HIR Articles

Data protection is at the heart of the digital economy. Whether it is students posting photographs of themselves online, consumers typing in credit card details to book a flight, or individuals interacting with e-government applications, we constantly rely on our data being protected. As such, information technology has huge economic and social potential. However, this potential will only be fully realised if citizens trust that their personal information is protected: hyper-connectivity must go hand-in-hand with the protection of privacy online.

By Viviane Reding  |  December 14, 2012

Despite the Internet and the global nature of aid organizations, hundreds of millions of people still live in the information dark ages. Children die of dehydration in areas where the simple oral rehydration ingredients—water, salt, and sugar—are available, but health posters on how to use them are in a different language. Anti-retrovirals can be issued to HIV positive patients, but if the instructions on how to take them are in the wrong language, confusion about the drug regimen will lead to side effects and patients desisting with treatment. The issue is not access to treatment, but access to knowledge, and language is the barrier. Access to knowledge is the linchpin in the fight against poverty, exploitation and medical disparities, and “the language last mile” is the final hurdle to bringing knowledge to every corner of the world.

By Lori Thicke, Rebecca Petras, Simon Andriesen  |  December 1, 2012

Myths and realities about China’s ambitions in Africa abound: China is monolithic, mired in stale ideology, subverting the Bretton Woods system, and unwilling to provide global public goods. Another is that China has no “soft power,” that is, the ability to engage almost one billion Africans by persuasion, attraction, and market relations rather than brute economic and military force.

By Michael Fairbanks, Mthuli Ncube  |  December 1, 2012

Recent policy changes initiated by the British Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government represent a paradigm shift in the organization of higher education. In 1963, the Robbins Report on the long-term development of higher education in Britain and the principles which should inform it inaugurated mass higher education and a public university system in the UK similar to that of the California Master Plan at about the same time. The architect of the latter, Clark Kerr, called the modern university a “multi-versity” for its multiple functions and roles. The announced changes to higher education in the UK derive from a radical, neo-liberal approach that now seeks to transform the multiversity into a market-based monoculture. As with all monocultures, the problem is not only the value of what is lost, but also the effective reproduction of what remains. The policies, I shall suggest, are self-defeating, but they are also deeply damaging to the university’s democratic mission.

By John Holmwood  |  December 1, 2012

As the world watched footage of Kim Jong-il's funeral, many were asking whether the emotions North Koreans displayed on camera were at all genuine. In your experience, what proportion of North Koreans are genuine devotees of the leadership?

By Ji Seong-Ho  |  December 1, 2012

You’ve referred to cultural understanding as something needed between Indonesia and the United States and that’s one of your focus areas under the Comprehensive Partnership. How’s it going so far?

By Scot Marciel  |  December 1, 2012

The Potential War Between China and the United States

Sri Lanka, the “pearl” of the Indian Ocean, is strategically located within the east-west international shipping passageway. Like the old Silk Road that stretched from the ancient Chinese capital of Xian all the way to ancient Rome, modern China’s strategic and commercial supply line extends over the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea to include the focal transit port of Sri Lanka at the southern tip of India. Today, over 85 percent of China’s energy imports from the Middle East and mineral resources from Africa transit through Sri Lanka and other so-called “string of pearls” ports.

By Patrick Mendis  |  November 30, 2012

Thirty years of research have identified a common structure to social movements (i.e. grievances, resources, ideology, and opportunity) that challenge and bring about change in government systems. An example was the 1989 demise of the Soviet socialist bloc in Eastern Europe, which is described in Oberschall’s 2000 article “Social movements and the transition to democracy” and in Opp & Gern’s 1993 study, “Dissident groups, personal networks, and spontaneous cooperation: The East German Revolution of 1989.” Once again we are witnessing a region wide upheaval, this time in the Middle East as the Arab uprisings that began in Tunisia continue to ripple across national boundaries. It is too early to say with certainty how or why this cascade started, much less tell where it is headed.

By Brian K. Barber, James Youniss  |  November 30, 2012

On June 4, 1989, I fled through the streets of Beijing as government officials crushed the student movement we had so passionately held in Tiananmen Square.  It was soon reported that our earnest attempt to have peaceful dialogue with our nation’s leaders had been a total failure, though some still say otherwise.  For 10 months, I hid underground in China, running for my life from those who should have protected us.

By Chai Ling  |  November 30, 2012

On February 12, 2012, thousands of young people watched the Grammys in anticipation of who would win the year’s most coveted awards, such as Best Artist and Best Album of the year. The Grammy telecast encouraged Tweeters to participate in a parallel awarding process based on snap judgments of all the performances and awards, grounded in personal taste. One commentator wrote, “Twitter, after all, is like a T-shirt whose slogan you can keep changing: every new tap of the keyboard trumpets your tastes.” When Chris Brown accepted the award for Best R&B Album for his latest record “F.A.M.E” there was a surge of tweets across the “twitterverse” both in celebration and disgust.

By Aashika Damodar  |  November 30, 2012