University of Bristol: Arts, Activism and Social Justice

The Fulbright University of Bristol Summer Institute is a three-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 is a global top-fifty institution, ranked 9th in the UK and committed to a spirit of academic excellence and research that addresses some of the most pressing and universal global issues. 

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 study and complete coursework alongside current University of Bristol students and other international students, learning valuable insights from their peers and working collectively to further their understanding of contemporary realities and 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 an orientation session for the participants to formally inaugurate the programme as well as city tour to help students orientate themselves. At the end of the programme, there will be a farewell meal to which will be invited the key stakeholders who have worked with the participants over the previous three weeks. 

In addition, the University of Bristol will organise a few social and cultural outings, to be planned in collaboration with participants. 

Bristol is located in a vibrant and historical part of the UK. 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 Oxford or Cardiff 
  • A visit to any of Bristol’s award-winning museums, including the MShed, the Bristol Museum and Art Gallery, the Georgian House Museum, or the Red Lodge Museum 
  • An evening spent by the harbourside or taking a ferryboat around the harbour 

More Information

16 June – 6 July 2024

Participants will be housed in a University hall of residence near the main University precinct. Accommodation will be single-room accommodation. All accommodation is university owned and managed. It includes laundry facilities, social and study spaces and wi-fi as well as cable internet connections. Accommodation is usually provided at the West Residential Village. Participants have traditionally stayed in Manor Hall.

Meals are included with accommodation on a half board basis (breakfast and evening meal). Participants are expected to source and pay for their own lunch. Travel and cultural events which are undertaken as part of the Institute will be covered by the University of Bristol. 

Please note that this is a city-based programme, and students will be issued with bus passes to enable to them to move around the city as part of their visits with various activists, community leaders and artists. It can be physically demanding at times. 

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. Participants who successfully complete the Summer Institute will be awarded with 10 University of Bristol credits, suggested as equivalent to 3 US semester credits. 

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