BHARGAV SRI GANESH: BELT AND ROAD INITIATIVE IN SOUTHEAST ASIA – A POISONED CHALICE – Sept 13th 2018
The “Belt and Road Initiative” (BRI) is one of the key geopolitical developments shaping the world today. The “Road”, counterintuitively, refers to a proposed maritime route connecting China’s south coast to East Africa and the Mediterranean. The “Belt” is a series of land corridors linking China with Europe, via Central Asia and the Middle East. Officially announced by China’s President Xi Jinping in 2013, the Belt and Road Initiative stretches through 65 countries that collectively produce a third of the global GDP. Close to $900 billion has already been set aside by China’s largest state-owned commercial banks to finance 900 projects (Wu and Zhu 2017).
TEISI TAMMING, BRADLEY FRANKS: PSYCHEDELIC DRUGS: AN APPROACH TO ADDRESSING MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES – Aug 20th 2018
An increasing amount of research has shown that psychedelic substances could be of major use for more successful forms of psychotherapy. This research has converged at a similar conclusion – psychedelic substances such as Psilocybin, MDMA, LSD and DMT have a medical value in that they can be used to treat mental health issues such as, but not limited to, addiction, anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
MATIJA FRANKLIN, TEISI TAMMING, SOPHIA GRAEFF BUHL-NIELSEN: WELL-BEING: RETHINKING THE AIMS OF A SUCCESSFUL POLICY – Aug 9th, 2018
There is no single policy measure that can comprehensively capture the state of a society at a given point in time. Currently, GDP is mainly being used as a global proxy for national progress. We argue that this is an incomplete proxy, given that GDP is simply a measure for “the total market value of the goods and services produced by a nation’s economy during a given year”. Most notably, Simon Kuznets, the economist responsible for the development of GDP as an indicator of societal progress, contended that such a measure held value only insofar as it could contribute to an understanding of the well-being of the people of a nation. How can we know whether a policy is successful with such limited measures?
JACK MCGUIRE, MATIJA FRANKLIN, JAKE REYNOLDS, JOHNNY HUGGIL: FUTURE OF BEHAVIOUR CHANGE INTERVENTIONS – July 30th, 2018
People’s behaviours and decisions do not occur in a vacuum. They are influenced by a myriad factors. Choice architecture is an approach that simplifies people’s behaviours and decisions by looking at how changes in a person’s immediate environment affects their behaviours and decisions. A vital aspect of this approach is the fact that choice architects can cause a predictive change in behaviour. This means that, on average, people will be more likely to behave in a certain way, or make a certain decision, in a particular situation. Choice architects can thus promote a desired decision or behaviours with the use of powerful policy tools – nudges. A nudge is an indirect technique aimed at influencing the choices and actions of groups and individuals without limiting or forcing options. Nudges that people encounter every day are alarm clocks, GPSs and labels on food packaging. A classic example of a nudge used in policy is the automatic enrollment of citizens in particular programmes. Specifically, if people are automatically enrolled in retirement plans, their savings tend to increase significantly. Thus, by cleverly utilising the behavioural insight that people tend to stick to a default setting, choice architects have been able to promote a myriad of behaviours that are beneficial to the individual (e.g., enrollment in health care plans) and society (e.g., enrollment in post mortem organ donation programmes).
NORA KALINKSKIJ: Conference on ISIS with MIGMO, Russia – November 12th, 2015
The Wilberforce Society hosted a conference with the Russian State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO) last Thursday to discuss “The Threat of ISIS – a regional analysis”. The discussion focused on possible collaboration between the UK and Russia on the path to defeating ISIS.
AGUSTIN FERRARI BRAUN: ANOTHER CHANCE – THE REFUGEES’ GIFT TO THE EUROPEAN UNION – September 9th, 2015
Two weeks ago, the newspapers showed Germany’s worst face to the world. The country, still a synonym for Hitler for many, was represented by the violent neo-nazis attacks against refugees’ asylums. Hate, fear and xenophobia seemed to be Germany’s answer to the pleads of thousands of asylum-seekers that saw in that country a promised land far removed from the Middle East. And yet, today the nation’s image has radically changed. The violence is no longer at the center of the public eye (which does not mean that it has vanished) and what we see today is Munich police’s tweet asking citizens to stop bringing goods for the refugees as they had already enough to supply the needs of the people that would arrive that day and the day after.
Please do not bring any more goods for the Moment.The donations at hand will be sufficient for the refugees present and arriving today.
— Polizei München (@PolizeiMuenchen) September 1, 2015
MYRTO VLAZAKI: YEAR 2015 REVEALED THAT NOT ALL IMMIGRANTS WERE BORN EQUAL – September 5th, 2015
Historically, the traditionally affluent states of Europe have never been particularly receptive to immigrants; especially to impoverished, unskilled, illiterate, religiously heterogeneous migrant groups. Despite its clearly demonstrated reluctance to offer opportunities to groups deemed “undeserving”, Europe has undeniably made some efforts to save face by devising long, complicated, bureaucratic migration policies that would ultimately allow a small fraction, the crème of this group to enter the European land of promise. It has been long since Europe as a continent and the European Union as a politico-economic construct last faced a migration crisis as intense and persistent as that of the years 2014-15 and September 2nd was the day that distinctively set this migration wave apart in the chronicle of European ethics and politics. September 2nd was the day the photograph of drowned three-year-old Aylan Kurdi made the headlines in all major newspapers and other media around the world. September 2nd was also the day that showed – in the most tragic way possible- that not all immigrants were born equal.
MYRTO VLAZAKI: AN INSIDER PERSPECTIVE ON THE LATEST FROM GREECE – July 14th, 2015
As a result of the January 2015 elections, a coalition government was formed by the left-wing SY.RIZ.A. and the right-wing AN.EL., the agendas of which converged on the systematic negotiation of the lending conditions with Greece’s creditors. Contrary to what appeared to be the policy of most elected parties since 2009, both SY.RIZ.A. and AN.EL. extended their popularity by being adamant in that they would strike the best deal possible instead of accepting the creditors’ proposals outright. It can be undoubtedly said that after 5 years of deep recession, increasing unemployment, reduction of spending power and psychological erosion, the hurt national pride and the desperate search for hope and social justice were amongst the main determinants of SY.RIZ.A. and AN.EL. popularity.