The Oxford University Silk Road Society was established in 2017 by enterprising students at Oxford keen to explore, research and discuss the countries, cultures and peoples of the Silk Roads, both modern and historical.
In light of the pandemic, the Society decided to forge a new path in Autumn 2020, starting the think-tank programme to bring together talented Oxford students keen to champion social and environmental equity along China's 'Belt and Road Initiative' (BRI).
From linguists to lawyers, chemists to data scientists, our analysts come from a diverse range of disciplines, allowing us to bring a fresh pair of eyes to some of the BRI’s biggest policy challenges.
Who we are
What we do
Over the last few years, we have hosted popular guest lectures, panels, and seminars exploring the past, present and future of the Silk Road.
Since the launch of our Silk Road Think-Tank in 2020, we have brought together some of Oxford’s brightest student minds to explore how policy-makers can promote equity and sustainability as part of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). All of our work is pro-bono and dedicated to exploring some of the most pressing policy challenges of China’s so-called “New Silk Road”.
We’re always on the look out for new partners and new projects - if you think your organisation could benefit from our work, we’d love to hear from you.
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We recruit from a diverse range of disciplines, with teams of 5-6 analysts working on each project
Teams work with our partner organisations to define their research objectives and identify individual case studies
We provide high-level training and talks from academics, policy-makers and industry leaders
We were founded during the COVID-19 pandemic, meaning we're well versed in supporting virtual, cross-border collaboration
Each project lasts 10 weeks, roughly in line with each of the Oxford terms.
Our Valued Partners
Current & Past
Hinrich Foundation for Sustainable Trade
Green BRI Center (International Institute for Green Finance)
Rob Macaire, Her Majesty's Ambassador to the Islamic Republic of Iran
Gordon Orr, Director Emeritus, McKinsey & Company
Project Cycle Jan-Mar 2021
Central Asia Project
Green BRI Macro Trends Project
In this project, OUSRS is partnering with Fidelity International to analyzing the extent to which China’s increased rhetorical promotion of green investment in the BRI corresponds to on-the-ground financial flows in the energy sector.
Week 1-3: Introduction and Seminars
We assign background readings on the BRI, environmental and social sustainability, and the latest developments in that subject area to ground our analysts' understanding of the project.
We also host two seminars for each team to develop an awareness of key issues and inspire areas for future research.
Week 4-6: Research, Talks, and Drafting
Analysts begin their research, either through an independent case study or through their specialised section of the report.
During this period, we invite academics, policy-makers, experts, and other key stakeholders to help share their perspectives, and gain crucial feedback and insight on our own methodology and topic areas.
Week 7-8: Feedback and Presentation Preparation
The analysts would have received feedback on their first draft from their Team Lead, and then the second round of feedback from the Executive Committee. Following this, the draft is shared with members of our partner organisation to receive another round of feedback, ensuring accuracy and quality.
Week 9-10: Finalisation, Presentation, and Publication
Analysts, together with their Team Leads, would finalise the report based on the three rounds of feedback.
In this time, they would also prepare a presentation format of the report, present it to partner organisations, other academics, policymakers, and key stakeholders, concluding with a roundtable discussion and feedback session.
Following this, the reports are finalised and prepared for submission or publication, depending on the client’s needs.
Following China’s recent pledge to achieve carbon neutrality by 2060, it is more important than ever to ensure that projects outside China’s borders are being held to the same environmental standards. Our four case studies explore the successes and limitations of environmental sustainability in BRI projects to date:
Hydropower: Ensuring a ‘clean conscience’ in Indonesia’s energy projects
Environmental Governance: How behavioural insights can transform environmental compliance
Preventing pollution havens: The role of Environmental Assessment Systems in Montenegro
Solar renewable energy: the bright future of photovoltaic cells