Diversity in Norwegian Academia 2021

Diversity ensures democratic and epistemic legitimacy. Although the Norwegian research sector and higher education institutions have steadily improved at ensuring diversity in recruitment processes, there is still scope for improvement in utilizing the resultant diversity.

Photo: Stockphoto / Stock

Recently, the Nordic Institute for Studies in Innovation, Research and Education (NIFU) and Statistics Norway released new statistics on diversity. These updated figures include information about immigrants and descendants of immigrants employed in academic roles in the research and higher education sector in Norway during 2007-2018.

The statistics show that the proportion of immigrants in such roles has increased from 18 to 29 percent (with considerable variation across disciplines); immigrants most often occupy temporary or trainee positions; and notably, immigrants’ descendants are clearly underrepresented in academic positions, despite the fact that this group comprises a significant proportion of students in Norway.

Feroz Mehmood Shah and Marta Bivand Erdal from the Young Academy of Norway (AYF) commented on the diversity statistics when they were published at a webinar hosted by the Committee for Gender Balance and Diversity in Research (KIF). In this piece we reflect on their feedback and identify three key challenges for diversity in Norwegian research and higher education moving forward.Read More

Tech-Based States of Emergency: some key takeaways

The COVID-19 pandemic has triggered the acceleration of pre-existing technological trends. As states introduce new rules and technological solutions to fight the pandemic, it can be tempting to view these technological applications as neutral scientific decisions. However, we must critically examine these decisions because times of crisis set standards which can last long after the states of emergencies end. For example, it is clear that the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001 fundamentally changed many societies’ perception of “normal” in issues such as surveillance or in smaller routines when it comes to air travel, for example. These routines remain to this day, two decades after the fact, and in many cases some of the surveillance practices have only grown bigger.

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Climate, Crop, and Conflict: a matter of space?

Anthropogenic climate change poses unprecedented threats to socio-ecological systems, affecting the lives of millions of people around the world. Among others, global warming has resulted in an increased frequency, intensity and duration of extremes, such as heatwaves, droughts and heavy precipitations. Climate-related impacts include alteration of ecosystems, disruption of food production and water supply, damage to infrastructure and settlements, increased morbidity and mortality, and potential implications for mental health and human well-being.

Figure 1″Refugees from South Sudan in El Daein, East Darfur” by UNAMID Photo.

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Parliamentary Election in Kosovo: Democratic Development and Desire for Change

View from Vetëvendosje’s protest in Mitrovica against deals with Serbia. Photo: AgronBeqiri via Wikimedia Commons

Less than a year after the fall of the Kosovo government led by left-wing reformist party Vetëvendosje (“Self-Determination”), the same party has returned to power. Following a landslide victory in the parliamentary election last Sunday, Vetëvendosje is set to form a government with a markedly stronger mandate than the first time around. The election outcome marks a power shift from an old political elite to a younger generation of politicians with a progressive vision, a positive development in the Western Balkans. Moreover, it signals that it is time for the EU and US to set a new direction for the Kosovo-Serbia dialogue.

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72 Million Children Are at Risk for Sexual Violence in Conflict. What Can Be Done?

A staggering 72 million children—17% of the 426 million children living in conflict areas globally, or 1 in 6—are living near armed groups that have been reported to perpetrate sexual violence against children.

That means 3% of all children in the world are living at risk for sexual violence in a conflict zone.

Photo: Fredrik Lerneryd/Save the Children

This is one of the figures of wartime risk reported in Save the Children’s 2021 report Weapon of War: Sexual Violence Against Children in Conflict. The figure is based on a new study conducted at the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO).

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Can we avoid conflict relapse? Some lessons from Haiti’s 2004, 2016 and 2021 crises

Over recent years few countries have made significant progress toward sustaining peace. It is important to better understand what works and what does not in conflict-affected countries. Here I will present a summary of my research on peace-building efforts in Haiti throughout the period 2004-2015, as well as some additional considerations of the political crisis of 2016 and ongoing crises since.

UN/MINUSTAH/Jesús Serrano Redondo, CC BY-SA 4.0

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Nordic Noir: National Risk Assessments in Times of Peace and Pandemics

As a result of their criteria for what counts as risks, the national risk assessments of the Nordic countries currently resemble the crime genre of Nordic Noir, where the Nordic societies are rendered in a gloomy but revealing light. By zooming in on potential crises without placing these in a global or long-term perspective, they leave a bleak impression of the Nordic security environment. At the same time, they are insightful depictions of security risks that are not commonly recognised.

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In 2016, I identified four future developments that would justify the Trump-Hitler comparison. Here are the results.

In 2016, comparing president-elect Donald Trump to all-time villain Adolf Hitler seemed overdrawn. It ultimately proved to be exaggerated in 2021, with the transition of power to Joe Biden completed. However, during his presidency, Trump has taken actions similar to the ones the Nazis used to consolidate their power. This is no partisan political statement, but the result of a simple test.

Before Trump took office, I published an analysis of the Trump-Hitler comparison on the Monkey Cage blog of the Washington Post. I pointed to four areas where Trump could copy key moves of power consolidation pioneered by the German Nazis. Then, I kept quiet on the matter for four years. History has delivered the results. Let’s take a look.

Gage Skidmore, CC BY-SA 2.0

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Facebook’s Power in Myanmar

Facebook is Myanmar’s dominant media platform. Now the country is again a dictatorship. In 2018, Facebook banned commander-in-chief Min Aung Hlaing for his role in the expulsion of the Rohingya. Now, as the country’s new dictator, he temporarily shuts down Facebook.

Aung San Suu Kyi (left), Min Aung Hlaing (right). Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Myanmar’s many conflicts have given Facebook director Mark Zuckerberg one headache after another. He and his regional boss in Singapore have been forced to take a number of tough decisions. After the February 1stcoup, Facebook staff were instructed to use all their tools to remove disinformation and incitement to violence – and protect criticism of the military coup. Myanmar’s new dictator, Min Aung Hlaing, reacted by shutting down Facebook temporarily until the night between February 7th an 8th.Read More