Press Review July 2013: First Impressions

This press review features the latest publications by UNU-MERIT and its School of Governance, from working papers to policy reports to books, as well as mentions in the media.

Our output for July includes three working papers and two journal articles, covering Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Burundi, Ethiopia, Morocco, and various European regions. We consider the ‘creative destruction’ of new technologies, capacity building in social businesses, migration from Central Asia and Africa, and higher education rankings. UNU-MERIT also features in a SciDev article, ‘Developing nations hailed as most-efficient innovators’. A young girl walks across rooftops against a scenic backdrop, in Herat, Afghanistan. Continue reading

The car killed Detroit

4129808416_eb14033725_zGiants also fall. The latest urban disaster took place in Detroit: the former ‘Car Capital of the World’. After the city’s bankruptcy application in July 2013, politicians in Latin America suddenly grew nervous. Our city planners are often inspired by trips to the USA where, speaking what they call fluent English (in Miami, for example), they pick up the ‘latest thinking’ and then turn our cities into replicas of Detroit.

The ‘Paris of the West’ was once an icon of the US urban model. In other words, anything but sustainable. For example, the city killed its public transport system (selling all its trams to Mexico City in the 1950s), while pushing the idea that bloated boat-like cars equal power and freedom. While in Amsterdam, ‘crazy’ youngsters were blocking streets, demanding better cycling infrastructure, in Detroit, they demanded highway extensions. Continue reading

AlumniWatch: From UN Research to EU Policy

For our latest blog, we asked Dr. Daniel Vertesy to share his thoughts on our PhD programme and how it shaped his career. Daniel speaks of his new life working for an EU research centre, the challenges of changing systems, and the importance of staying dynamic.

For many, it is just as surprising to hear that the UN has a University as finding out that the EU has an in-house scientific research centre. Just like the UNU’s research and training institutes located around the world, the various institutes of the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) are spread across Europe and deal with a broad range of topics, from nuclear safety to photovoltaics, from deforestation to innovation. At arm’s length from the Brussels machinery, the JRC can be an exciting place for post-docs to get first-hand experience of the interaction between science and policy making at international level.

An Embraer 145 jet, made in Brazil Continue reading

Hierarchy: an Obstacle or a Boost to Learning?

Although an increasing number of organisations are developing online training initiatives for their staff, participants’ hierarchical ranks are hardly taken into consideration. Are we all equal when we learn or does hierarchy influence our network behaviour? For his PhD, completed under the supervision of professors Wim Gijselaers and Mien Segers, Martin Rehm undertook research into the impact of hierarchical positions within online Communities of Learning (CoLs).

For Rehm, focusing on CoLs was a natural decision. “As e-Learning project manager at the Maastricht Graduate School of Governance, I was exposed to Communities of Learning without even realising they were called that. I noticed that the assumptions about hierarchy and how hierarchies impact the way people behave and perform were mostly based on intuition, so I decided to research the subject myself.”

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