The Fulbright University of Bristol Summer Institute is a four-week cultural and academic programme, exploring the intersection of arts, activism and social justice. 

Bristol is an ideal city in which to explore the themes of arts and social change. Having won the 2015 European Green Capital Award, it has a vibrant culture of arts and grassroots activism, and a rich history that includes radical and progressive traditions, and diverse communities. Bristol’s economic history raises important challenges of social justice which are salient in the city today

Bristol played a major role in the transatlantic slave-trade and colonialism.  The city’s historic role in slavery and colonialism has had significant material, economic and cultural legacies today in the Caribbean, Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas, and in Bristol itself. Bristol’s complex history and diverse contemporary cultures make it an opportune place for US students to learn about the social worlds of Britain and Europe, and from which to gain a deeper understanding of our shared global histories. 

Founded in 1876, the University of Bristol has had a reputation for innovation since gaining its Royal Charter in 1909. The University of Bristol is consistently ranked in the top 10 of UK universities by the Times Higher Education, with the QS World Rankings putting the University in the top 50*.

Students will investigate how literature, music, visual arts, poetry and storytelling, dance, philosophy and critical social theories have shaped movements for social justice across the globe, with particular attention given to racial justice and the legacies of slavery.

Topics will range across geographic areas, including Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Americas, with six overlapping themes:

  • Racial justice and slavery
  • Colonialism and independence
  • Global feminisms
  • Migration and refugees
  • Environmental sustainability
  • Health and well-being


With a unique programme of seminars, workshops and study visits, participants will:

  • Learn about movements for social change and justice from around the world.
  • Discover how people from diverse social contexts have used a combination of social theory, philosophy and the arts as vehicles for social change.
  • Examine legacies of racism, slavery and colonialism, and the impact of these legacies on the lives of people today.
  • Learn about the key roles of Bristol, Liverpool and London in the development of transatlantic slavery.
  • Examine different approaches to rectifying historical injustices.
  • Learn about Bristol and Great Britain.
  • Develop transferrable skills for use in future leadership and social entrepreneurship.
  • Get involved in a variety of community, civic and arts activities.
  • Meet local people from a variety of backgrounds and enhance leadership skills.
  • Be empowered to think strategically about how they themselves can use the arts to build community and transform culture.

The academic programme will include:

  • Seminars on arts and activism across geographic and historical locations (such as literary activism in Africa).
  • Seminars on Bristol's role in transatlantic enslavement.
  • Workshops with artists, entrepreneurs and activists from the thriving arts and voluntary sectors of Bristol. 

Participants will undertake coursework to deepen their understanding of the topics and themes being discussed. They will also work closely with the course/module leaders who will provide direction, guidance and feedback to the participants – both as a group and individually.  

The University of Bristol will organise a welcome reception for the participants to formally inaugurate the programme and at the end of the programme, there will be a farewell reception to which will be invited the key stakeholders who have worked with the participants over the previous four weeks.

Cultural excursions accessible from Bristol include:

  • Theatre night at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre (the oldest continually operating theatre in the UK)
  • The UNESCO World Heritage Site Roman Baths in Bath
  • A day-trip to explore central London
  • Comedy night at the Tobacco Factory

Through the University’s Student’s Union, participants will have opportunities to get involved in events organised by British students from a variety of backgrounds.

More information

Programme dates

1-29 June 2019 (travel dates not included)


Participants will be housed together in a University hall of residence near the main University precinct. Accommodation will be based on students sharing rooms. All accommodation is University owned and managed, and has wi-fi and cable internet connections. Accommodation is provided at our Stoke Bishop accommodation blocks and meals are included with accommodation. Students have traditionally stayed in Badock Hall or Wills Hall.


Participants will be provided with a catering card for the University refectories for a pre-arranged amount per day. Travel and cultural events which are undertaken as part of the Institute will be covered by the University of Bristol.


On completion of the programme, an official University of Bristol transcript will be issued to form a part of the participant’s academic record. Each element of the programme will be listed, and a single grade allocated to the four credit block. Participants who successfully complete the Summer Institute will be awarded with the four academic credits