Delphi Economic Forum

Dr Daphne Halikiopoulou will be travelling to Delphi in early March to give a talk at the Delphi Economic Forum on Populism and values.

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Challenging Contemporary Wisdom

On 13 December 2017 the Ways of War Centre hosted the first of a series of seminars designed to challenge contemporary conventional wisdom on key defence and security issues.  Recognising the role of critical thinking to the generation of ‘intellectual advantage’, each seminar will match a leading practitioner with an academic partner to explore the ‘ambiguity paradox’ caused by an increasingly complex operating environment and the corresponding need for insightful thinking and decision making.

The December seminar focused on Command and Control, asking the question ‘is it fit for purpose in the 21st Century’?  Contrarian-in-Chief Lieutenant General Sir David Capewell and Capt Dr David Reindorp RN explored five related focus questions with an audience from the MOD, armed services, academia and industry.  Consensus suggested that it (C2) was not fit for purpose and required rethinking in a variety of areas including the UK’s national security decision making apparatus, and the relationship between politicians, commanders, those under command and the society they all serve.

The seminar concluded that while MOD has got better at closing the gap between tomorrow’s wars and yesterday’s equipment, it now needs to do likewise with concepts.  Many of which remain rooted in the past and show little sign of attracting the rapid, agile development pathways now seen in Defence acquisition.

The next seminar takes place on April 25th and will challenge the UK’s defence acquisition model and strategy.   Air Chief Marshal Sir Brian Burridge (ex-Vice President Finmeccanica) will act as Contrarian-in-Chief.  For further details or to register interest please contact Dr David Reindorp

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Engaging with practitioners

What do Andrea Leadsom, Matt Rodda and now, John Redwood have in common? All three MPs have taken part in Parliamentary Studies seminars this term. Reading is one of only 20 UK universities working with Parliament to run a Parliamentary Studies module, and ours is built around direct engagement with Parliamentarians and Parliamentary staff. Next up for this group? A day in Westminster including a seminar on LGBT+ issues with Lord Michael Cashman.

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Political Quarterly

Please click here to read Daphne Halikiopoulou’s latest blog published in the Political Quarterly.

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Reading Centre for Climate and Justice to help protect vulnerable communities

The University of Reading, event to launch a new Research Centre for Climate Justice based at the University of Reading. Group portrait.

The University of Reading, event to launch a new Research Centre for Climate Justice based at the University of Reading. Pictured here: Mrs Mary Robinson speaking.

A new research centre that will support communities threatened by climate change was launched at the University of Reading on Thursday 18th January 2018 by former Irish President and UN human rights high commissioner Mary Robinson.

The Reading Centre for Climate Justice will be dedicated to putting justice at the heart of understanding the problems caused by climate change, and finding solutions to protect those most vulnerable to them. It seeks to deploy expertise at the University to identify gaps in knowledge, and emerging areas, that would benefit from a justice-focused approach.

More information available from

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Rt Hon Andrea Leadsom MP, Leader of the House of Commons visit to PolIR Department

Students staged their own ‘Second Referendum on Brexit’ as the Rt Hon Andrea Leadsom MP, Leader of the House of Commons and leading light of the Leave Campaign joined Politics and IR students for a Parliamentary Studies class at the University of Reading this morning. Spending 50 minutes with the students, she was the consummate government representative: well-briefed, on message and with enough insight to tantalise on such issues as Brexit and Cabinet reshuffles, if not to provide much new to the evidence pot. Questions from the floor ranged from the relationship with the Commonwealth to farming policy post-Brexit, to the role of the media to an insider’s view on reshuffles. The only area where she wouldn’t be drawn was what a Leadsom premiership might have looked like had she won the Conservative Party Leadership in 2016. With her minders eager to move on, she was whisked away on cue at 12.30. Time waits for no woman with Cabinet Collective Responsibility! And as for that Second Referendum…? No clear winner.

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Dr Sarah von Billerbeck – ESRC and FBA Grant Awards

Sarah and Oisín Tansey (King’s College London) were recently awarded an ESRC Standard Grant to support a three-year project entitled ‘Enabling Authoritarianism? United Nations Peacebuilding and Authoritarian Rule.’ The project, due to start in June 2018, will examine the ways in which UN peace operations might contribute to the rise or consolidation of authoritarian forms of governance in post-conflict countries.
Also, Sarah, who is co-Director of the newly established UN and Global Order Programme (UNGOP) at the University of Reading with Professor Rosa Freedman in the School of Law, was awarded a small grant to undertake a 7-month project on performance management in international organizations by the Folke Bernadotte Academy in Sweden.
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The End of a Dream and the Risk of Global Chaos

Please join us for the following event, hosted by the UN and Global Order Programme (UNGOP) at the University of Reading:

A book presentation and discussion by Michael von der Schulenburg:

The End of a Dream and the Risk of Global Chaos.  Will strong nation-states and a stronger United Nations guarantee a new global order?

1 February 2018, 4pm, Palmer Building 107

Michael von der Schulenburg worked for 34 years for the United Nations, and shortly for the OSCE, including as Assistant Secretary-General, in many of the world’s trouble spots such as Haiti, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, Syria, the Balkans, Somalia, Sierra Leone, and in the Sahel. He participated in a number of strategic reviews of UN missions and review processes on UN reforms. He has written extensively on sensitive political issues and the role of UN peace missions. His most recent publication is On Building Peace – Rescuing the Nation State and Saving the United Nations, published in 2017 by Amsterdam University Press.

ABSTRACT: The hopes we had with the fall of communism in 1992 that liberal democracy had won, would now spread around the world, and lead to an era of prosperity, justice, stability and peace have evaporated. Instead, two geopolitical developments have set in that are deeply troubling to the West and that will have profound destabilizing effects on global peace and security. First, the West has lost its unique post-Cold War leadership in world affairs to an emerging multipolar world consisting of many competing global and regional powers with different political systems. Second, interstate wars have been replaced by intrastate armed conflicts between failing nation-states and increasingly powerful armed non-state actors as the new threats to global peace and security, threats for which we have no real answers. Without global leadership and with mounting numbers of countries sliding into armed conflicts in a world of rising populations, we risk drifting fast into global chaos. Michael von der Schulenburg, in presenting his book On Building Peace – Rescuing the Nation-State and Saving the United Nations, will make a provocative argument – based on long experience working in countries with wars, armed conflict, and social disintegration – that preserving a global order for the future will need what many thought to be outmoded or even dead: strong nation-states and a stronger United Nations.

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Dr Daphne Halikiopoulou and Dr Tim Vlandas – new article

Daphne and Tim’s article ‘Does unemployment matter? Economic insecurity, labour market policies and the far right vote in Europe’ has been accepted for publication and is forthcoming in European Political Science (EPS) as a part of a symposium on the Populist Radical Right edited by Jens Rydgren and Pontus Odmalm.

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Cardiff Senedd

On Wednesday December 6, 14 Politics & IR students, mostly from our Parliamentary Studies modules traveled to Cardiff to see devolved government in action. This was the department’s third visit to the Welsh Assembly and again, the welcome was warm, the visit was informative and the debate was occasionally feisty.

Starting the morning in the Old Debating Chamber in Ty Hywel, the Assembly’s office building beside the Senedd, the group met leader of the Welsh Conservatives (the opposition in Wales) Andrew RT Davies, and senior Labour AM Mick Antoniw. Responding to some probing questions from the group, the pair covered everything from the impact of Brexit on Wales through Enhanced and Reserved powers to how the Assembly has evolved since it first sat 20 years ago.

Moving next door to the main Senedd, the group received a short but sweet tour of the award-winning building before taking in a business session of Ministers’ Questions.





Next term, the group will have the chance to compare devolved government with the Mother of Parliaments as they head for a Parliamentary Day in Westminster.

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