The Rothermere American Institute was created in 2001 as a department of the University of Oxford. Its mission is to promote within and beyond Oxford ‘greater public and academic understanding of the history, culture and politics of the United States’.
Housed in an award-winning, modern building, the RAI has become the foremost academic institution beyond America’s shores for teaching and research in US history, politics, international relations, foreign policy, literature, and culture.
Every year, it hosts more than 200 seminars, workshops, conferences and lectures which attract leading scholars, students, policy-makers and public figures from across the world to study the United States.
‘Where has America come from and where does it find itself? What is it doing, and what ought it to do in the world?’ President Clinton posed these questions at the Institute’s opening. Today, they remain at the heart of the RAI’s mission.
Viewing the United States from an external but sympathetic angle gives the RAI an important and unique perspective. Students and scholars at the Institute set US experience, practice and policy in comparative contexts with other nations in the Atlantic area and beyond. It is an external perspective that US institutions necessarily lack.
The Institute draws on the resources of Oxford University’s other departments and faculties, and on research institutes, politicians, civil servants, independent experts, authors and journalists, in Great Britain and abroad.
Promoting greater public understanding of the United States and its history, culture and politics is also at the heart of the RAI’s mission. As part of this commitment, we welcome school students to study in the Vere Harmsworth Library or to participate in special events at the Institute.
“The RAI has emerged as a premier site for encounter, debate and research around the understanding of the USA. The Institute and its programmes offer a powerful environment for American and European scholars to pursue a refined understanding of the commonality and differences that both unite and separate the two regions. This is not just an exercise in cloistered academic debate: it is important in settling perspectives so that potentially damaging ruptures may be avoided."
Sir Colin Lucas, Vice-Chancellor of Oxford University, 1997-2004
Shaping perspectives and changing lives
Oxford’s position as one of the world’s leading universities is reflected in the cosmopolitan background of its students. Oxford educates the most exceptional young minds in the world, with more than 60 per cent of the university’s current graduate students coming from outside the UK.
Many of these students will go on to take positions of leadership and influence across the globe in subsequent decades. The RAI offers them an immensely positive influence at this formative stage of their lives.
Through the Institute’s seminars, workshops and lectures, and the students’ encounters with distinguished speakers and fellows, the RAI brings together this next generation of policy-makers, government and business leaders, academics and journalists for a greater understanding of the United States.
The Institute offers a forum for discussing the vital topics affecting the US, its international relations and its commerce, shaping perceptions and countering misconceptions about America. The deep intellectual resources of Oxford University and of scholars from around the world who come to research, engage and talk at the Institute enables the RAI to ‘influence the influencers’ of the future.
“The Rothermere American Institute plays a unique role in the global study of public life in the United States. Its many seminars, conferences, and events such as Congress to Campus influence current policy-makers and the next generation of government and business leaders, shaping perceptions and countering misconceptions about the United States. With greater resources, the RAI's impact in promoting a better understanding of American politics and institutions around the world will be stronger still."
Rick Boucher, United States Congressman for Virginia (D-10th District), 1983-2011.