Megan Beretta was a student in the MSc in Social Science of the Internet in 2017-18. Before joining the OII, she completed a Bachelor of Social Science in Political Science and Communication at the University of Ottawa, and worked as part of the original team at the Canadian Digital Service.
What first attracted you to the OII? And what were you doing before?
The OII was really the only place I wanted to study. Nowhere else has the same true focus on life online, while being interdisciplinary, and open to new methods and ideas. The outstanding faculty, as a group, demonstrate the true commitment to studying the Internet, rather than just one or two people who are focused on Internet research. As well, studying the Internet in one of the oldest academic settings in the world is special. Walking the same streets as Adam Smith and John Locke, as well as Tim Berners-Lee, brings to life the importance of academic inquiry!
And what have you been up to since leaving the OII?
I’m now a Policy Advisor at the Canadian Digital Service (part of the Government of Canada), focusing on policy issues challenging the advancement of digital government in Canada. I was part of launching the original team, working on their communications planning in July 2017, and am happy to be back in the growing team in a policy role. I also was chosen from several hundred youth from around the world to be part of a group of 10 fellows for the Institute for Canadian Citizenship. The fellowship funds us to work on projects related to technology and citizenship. For my project, I’m working on a non-partisan, consultative process that will examine the digital rights needs of underrepresented communities, and empower these communities to know their rights and bring this conversation into the mainstream.
Regarding the fellowship, I am honoured to be part of an organisation that values inclusion, diversity, and a commitment to developing active citizenship around the world. With my education from the OII, I was pleased to represent how a deep understanding of technology’s impact on the social world can inform the discussion around citizenship. The fascinating conversations I had were informed by my international perspective, which is helping to inspire my approach to discussing digital rights in Canada with youth
How did your time at the OII prepare you for this?
The OII’s variety of courses let me choose a career in tech policy: I was able to specialise, unofficially by taking courses in law and politics, and methods courses that would help me along the analytical path suited to government work. The flexibility of the thesis let me explore a question suited to my country and my context, opening up new areas of interest, but strengthening my knowledge and understanding of the Canadian political and governmental environment.
What do you miss most about Oxford?
I loved my classmates at the OII, and what they brought to our experience there every day. The quality of people at the Institute is fantastic, and the diversity of students knowledge and interests were impressive and fascinating. I was always excited to hear what they had to say, and for them to challenge my ideas.