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Today, February 9, marks the official launch of the ‘new’ United Nations University Institute on Comparative Regional Integration Studies (UNU-CRIS). The Belgian campus of the United Nations University exists already for fifteen years, but is now formally embedded into a VUB-Ugent consortium after a call for interest initiated by the Flemish Government. UNU-CRIS is set to become a new VUB Global research spearhead, with the Institute for European Studies (IES) at its vanguard.
From its Bruges base in the Abdij Ter Duinen – a 400-year old building where priests continue to train - UNU-CRIS researchers will focus on regional integration matters in a global context. They will look at the boundaries of globalisation and its relationship to wealth, cooperation and nationalism – themes that are very much in the news today.
Crafty solutions to global problems
Anthony Antoine, the IES’ Executive Director and a Bruges native, will be heading UNU-CRIS as its Interim Director. He comments: “First and foremost, this new development strengthens the VUB’s research potential to help forge the creative solutions that European and world policy makers need to tackle the major global problems of today. Secondly, it allows us to be part of a project in which the Flemish government is investing significantly. And last but not least, UNU-CRIS gives VUB a strong foothold in Bruges and West-Flanders.”
A new start
UNU-CRIS was established in 2001 as one of the 13 research and training institutes of the United Nations University (UNU) network. The proposition with wich VUB and UGent answered the call for interest by the Flemish Government was witheld by an international jury. The ‘new’ institute will be launched with an official academic session in the City Hall of Bruges.
The focus of UNU-CRIS is on research. UGent will dispatch two PhD’s to UNU-CRIS every year, while the VUB will focus on a large project every year. In an interview in the regional section of the Flemish weekly ‘Knack’, Anthony Antoine said he expected UNU-CRIS to be employing 25 researchers in a first phase, growing to some 40 in the coming years.