Oxford Martin School launches three new research programmes

15 October 2015

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The Oxford Martin School is launching three new research programmes. Each of them has been created in response to a call from the School for research within the theme 'Global Commons, Collective Responsibilities and Market Failures'.

Professor Ian Goldin, the School's Director, explained why this had been chosen as the latest research focus:

"Some of the most intractable challenges we face relate to issues where we know what is in our long-term collective interest yet seem unable to take the necessary steps in the short term. The call for proposals stemmed from this concern and follows on naturally from the work of the Oxford Martin Commission for Future Generations."

Following an open competition across the University, the School selected three projects to provide fresh insights into how to manage the global commons, the issues surrounding collective responsibilities and possible responses to market failures.

  • The Oxford Martin Programme on Collective Responsibility for Infectious Disease, led by Professor Mark Harrison, Professor Angela McLean and Professor Julian Savulescu. This four year programme has been created in response to the issues surrounding the barriers to tackling successfully infectious diseases that still kill millions each year. Taking a strong interdisciplinary approach, the programme will look at the 'Human Factor' involved in preventing and tackling influenza, malaria, antibiotic resistance and vaccine-preventable childhood infections.By drawing on history, paediatrics, philosophy, psychology and zoology to identify the role of behaviour, psychology and ethics in the start, spread and control of infectious disease, the programme aims to generate disease-specific policy recommendations for collective action.
  • The Oxford Martin Programme on Integrating Renewable Energy aims to address the issue of reducing carbon emissions from the energy supply side. Led by Professor Malcolm McCulloch (who in previous years was a co-director of the Institute for Carbon and Energy Reduction in Transport) and Professor Nick Eyre, this is also a four year project. It will look at the challenges and of transitioning to low carbon energy systems. Given that energy supply is responsible for 65% of carbon emissions, this transition is vital. However, retaining a secure energy system when most renewable sources are intermittent poses a number of critical challenges. Drawing together a team of eight energy experts from the University of Oxford and working with industrial and government organisations, the programme aims to deliver solutions for technical, commercial and policy problems.
  • The Oxford Martin Programme on Sustainable Oceans aims to address the critical issue of managing the global oceans. This is the largest ecosystem on earth and it is under threat. The issues are complex and connected but amount to a picture of serious decline in the oceans that, if not urgently addressed, will lead to serious threats, such as undermining of food security, economically damaging loss of tourism, and loss of fisheries and coastal defences. In this four year programme, experts from marine science, law and computing will look to resolve legal barriers to progress in sustainable ocean management. Ultimately, the programme aims to develop new tools for management and to equip policy makers with the knowledge they need to improve the governance of the oceans, especially the high seas.