Charities today face greater challenge and more scrutiny. Yet despite their crucial role in society and the challenges they face, the academic study of charity, to date, has not been strong. The Oxford Institute of Charity is being established to address this problem.

The Oxford Institute of Charity will work with others across the UK and internationally to strengthen understanding of the challenges that face the Third Sector, and the possible solutions that will help ensure charity remains a vivid and vital part of our society.


Aims

The Oxford Institute of Charity, a collaboration between New College Oxford and Charity Futures, has been established to:

  • Provide high calibre, independent, contemporary research whose findings will be of practical use to the global charity community and policy-makers
  • Establish a forum where foundations, not-for-profit leaders, academics and charity practitioners, can share insights and develop common agendas for research and action
  • Engage students and academics in charity as an increasingly important area for study and scholarship, supporting the sustainability of the charity sector. Such study will be interdisciplinary, drawing on perspectives from history, law, philosophy, economics, psychology and business, amongst others
  • Promote the importance of research and study of charity across Universities
  • Develop networks and foster links internationally
  • Offer learning opportunities through conferences and summer schools for UK and global academics, philanthropists, corporate donors and leaders of civil society

Steering group

The Director of Charity Futures and the Warden of New College will be part of the Steering Group which will lead the OIC in the early stages of its development.

“The willingness of New College to participate in this collaboration is a very significant moment for us. Charity Futures was established to look at the long-term future health of the charitable sector in the UK. We were clear from the start that it was essential to find a home at a place where scholarly research into the topic would be valued and safeguarded.”

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“We are very pleased to be hosting the Oxford Institute of Charity in the College, as the third and newest of our Research Centres. What particularly attracts us is the opportunity to apply interdisciplinary scholarship to the subject, and in a way that reinforces our own – and Oxford’s – expertise in subjects as diverse as history, philosophy, politics, economics, law and government.”

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Academic programme

Most academic effort has been focused on philanthropy – the study of giving – rather than on the demand side, on how funds are spent. As a result the model of charity which has developed in the UK, and which underpins the ‘Third Sector’, remains poorly explained and understood. This raises implications for issues from governance and leadership to the very perceptions of charity.

The Institute aims to differentiate itself through high-quality, interdisciplinary research with a global perspective and an orientation towards action.

“Our research and study of charity aims to promote a better, more sustainable and effective model for charity. The OIC will also serve as an authoritative source for views on the sector with government and the media and in policy development generally.”

Sir Stephen Bubb

The academic programme will explore the history, policy and practice of the charity sector. It will facilitate deep engagement with practitioners to formulate better research questions and to ensure the applicability of findings. We also hope to encourage greater focus on this in other universities, through a network of collaborations.

The Oxford Institute of Charity will support, through New College, an Academic Director to manage its work. A series of Junior Research Fellows will be established on subjects such as Law, Politics, Economics, Philosophy and History, to explore different aspects of charity.

Miles Young

Location

OIC will eventually operate from the Tower of the new Gradel Quadrangles, being built by New College. Find out more about this exciting new project and how the an ‘architecture of openness’ will mirror our own ethos


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