Oxford Martin School

Oxford Martin School

The Oxford Martin School was founded as the James Martin 21st Century School at the University of Oxford in 2005 through the vision and generosity of Dr James Martin. The School is a unique, interdisciplinary research initiative addressing key global future challenges. In 2009, a $50 million matched funding challenge was initiated by Dr James Martin. The Challenge was an unprecedented success, matching the donations of 30 different donors (individual philanthropists, charities, corporations and research bodies) and creating 19 new research programmes to join membership of the School. As a result of this expansion, the School relaunched under the new name of Oxford Martin School in Autumn 2010. 

A key aim of the School is to mitigate the most pressing risks and realise exciting new opportunities of the 21st century. With interdisciplinary teams of researchers from across the university, the School is working on the frontiers of knowledge in four broad areas: health and medicine; energy and environment; technology and society; and ethics and governance. Aiming to have an impact beyond academia, the School also develops wide-ranging initiatives, intellectual programmes and public events to engage with national and international policymakers, business, students and the general public.

Panel at Royal Society event

Mission and Structure

The Oxford Martin School's mission is to foster innovative thinking, interdisciplinary scholarship and collaborative activity to address the most pressing risks and realize new opportunities of the 21st century. The School is designed to be dynamic and flexible, taking up new lines of research and addressing critical questions as challenges and opportunities emerge. The School offers research funding and support for forward-looking Oxford University research projects that are organised into the School’s Institutes and Programmes. 

The School’s central directorate provides strategic direction, administrative infrastructure and outreach support for its wide-ranging research activity. The central Oxford premises offer a research space for academics and a venue for seminars, meetings and events organised or supported by the School.


Research projects funded by the Oxford Martin School are selected through a rigorous, competitive process in which the four criteria of Scale, Excellence, Impact and Value Added must be met.  This means that all work is required to: address issues of global significance for the 21st century; be of the highest academic standards; have the potential to effect positive change; be innovative and interdisciplinary.  Institutes, Programmes and individuals (known as James Martin Fellows) that receive funding are members of the Oxford Martin School.  Together they constitute a unique, interdisciplinary community of scholars who collectively are tackling the challenges of the 21st century. Members contribute to and benefit from the School’s regular meetings, seminars, publications and partnerships, as well as various opportunities to disseminate research beyond the academic community.