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At the recently held conference on political and economic inequality, Armin Schäfer (Professor, University of Osnabrück), talked about political inequality by looking at the political behaviour of social classes that was very much shaped through the workplace in the past. Overtime, the discrepancy in the political engagement and the representation of the lower end groups has grown very much. As certain groups abstain from voting and are not represented anymore, there is a risk of political decisions getting biased against these groups.

Watch the interview with Armin Schäfer


The International Geneva Committee, composed of representatives of International Organisations in Geneva, selected the following three articles as the winners of the 2015 Award:


Crisis-Proof Services: Why Trade in Services did not Suffer During the 2008-2009 Collapse

Published in: Journal of International Economics, 2016, Vol. 98, pp. 138-149

Author: Andrea Ariu, Institute of Economics and Econometrics, University of Geneva


Conflicts of Interest in International Organizations: Evidence from two United Nations Humanitarian Agencies

Published in: Public Administration (PADM), 2015, Vol. 93, Issue 4


Valentina Mele, Bocconi University

Simon Anderfuhren-Biget, University of Geneva

Frédéric Varone, University of Geneva


Scaling the Local: Canada’s Rideau Canal and Shifting World Heritage Norms

Publication forthcoming in: Journal of World History 26, n°3


Aurélie Gfeller, The Graduate Institute, Geneva

Jaci Eisenberg, The Graduate Institute, Geneva


The jury highlighted the originality, interdisciplinary approach and direct policy relevance to International Organisations of the winning papers.


Read more 



Political and Economic Inequality: Concepts, Causes and Consequences, ETHZ - 28-29 January 2016

DAY 1: What is happening with representative democracy?

Today, we had a great overview of the “state of the art” of representative democracy within the OECD countries, as well as a historical view on inequality in its different dimensions. Speakers from diverse backgrounds and countries gave their perspective on how rising inequality affects politics. It can be claimed that political systems within OECD countries are dysfunctional, because they don’t fulfil their mission anymore. They are currently failing to represent every social class that participates in the make-up of society.


DAY 2: Inequality in the European Union

The European Union is an economic and political space where, for around three decades, inequalities of all types went down thanks to coordination between member countries and a strong and clear project followed by most of them. Experts speaking on the second day of the conference sought to examine how the process of enlargement of the 1990s and 2000s, and the 2008 economic crisis added pressure on the Union, contributing to renewed increase in economic and social inequalities in its midst. Unequal adjustments in the Eurozone after the crisis underline even further the uneven power and economic rapports between EU members and question the principle of solidarity in the name of which the region is supposed to function.



What are the new opportunities for education that information and communication technologies (ICTs) can offer? What are, on the other hand, the educational challenges that they generate? The topic will be adressed at the upcoming debate with international organisations, which will take place on 15 February 2016 at the Scuola universitaria professionale della Svizzera italiana (SUPSI) in Locarno. On that occasion, the chief of education policies of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Prof. Francesc Pedró, as well as a Ms Marie Maier-Metz of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) will share their perspective of the subject and their professional experiences.


Participation is free – register here

To the event page



Political and Economic Inequality: Concepts, Causes and Consequences

The next SNIS Biennial Conference, hosted by the Center for International and Comparative Studies (ETHZ / University of Zürich), will take place on 28-29 January 2016 in Zürich (Audimax, ETH Zürich).

The conference will address the topic of political and economic inequalities, its concepts, causes and consequences. It will shed light on aspects that have so far been relatively neglected, namely the role of politics, social categories and the spatial context. The conference will look closer to three specific contexts within which inequality poses a major challenge: contexts of developed and developing countries, and within the European Union.

The keynote address will be delivered by Prof. Branko Milanovic, City University of New York.

View detailed programme

Register on-line