News from the Postgraduate Training Programme

At the beginning of November, the participants of the Postgraduate Training Programme started into the research team phase. Divided into three teams of six participants each, the participants conduct intensive research on a specific topic. In the following, the teams report on their experiences during the first weeks.

Research Team I: “Reforming the UN Development System at the Country-Level: A New Collective Offer for the 2030 Agenda”

Photo: Forschungsteam 1 des 56. Postgraduierten-Kurses


From the very second day of the Postgraduate Training Programme, things became serious for us participants: The waiting for the allocation of the research teams came to a long-awaited end! Research group 1 got to know each other on a warm September day in the institute garden excited to be working together for seven  months. Even though the research would only start in November, two things were already clear: Firstly, the researchers should take a close look at the UN development system´s reform. Second, interviews would probably be conducted virtually. However, since we were still at a very early stage in the research process, we would select the UN organisations to be studied in a way that a short trip in 2021 would still be Corona compliant. Today, at the end of November, the situation has of course changed again… We have been in the preparatory phase for two weeks, as both research question and subject are taking shape. Fortunately, we do not yet have to switch completely to a digital everyday life, as we have enough space in the institute to comply with the hygiene rules in presence. Grateful to see masked faces in real life two or three times a week, it is easier to do research in this way than by virtual means. However, we have already made use of digital means to collaborate and were even able to successfully complete our team building virtually – probably as the first team in the history of the Postgraduate Training Programme. We will remain optimistic that despite COVID-19 we will be able to spend a short time abroad. To be continued…


Research Team II: “Societal Peace and Local Elections in Nepal”

Photo: Forschungsteam 2 des 56. Postgraduierten-Kurses


Nepal – the country of the Hindu temples, with breathtaking landscapes and the Himalaya mountains in the background. Travelling this country once and at the same time pursuing an exciting research question should have been the highlight of our research phase. However, the current pandemic is causing quite a mess this year. Instead of field research on site, the motto is: exploring Nepalese culture from our home office in the metropolis of Bonn with an unstable internet connection. But long regrets are not known to help much. And so “let’s take it as it comes” is already our new motto. Who knows, maybe this slightly different variant and the new conditions will lead us to a completely different added value…? Of course, we still want to understand how the local elections affect social cohesion in Nepal. To this end, we will conduct qualitative online interviews with experts and, in close cooperation with a Nepalese survey institute, we will have quantitative telephone surveys of the population conducted. We are curious to see what opportunities and challenges will arise from the online research. In any case, we will not let the passion for the country, people and research be taken away from us. And if we get bored in our home office and the corona situation allows it, we simply take a culinary research team trip to Friesdorf, to our Nepalese restaurant of confidence. In this way, we try to bring a piece of Nepal to Bonn.


Research Team III: “Decarbonizing Cities: Assessing Governance Models for Transformative Change Towards Sustainability in European and Latin American Cities”

Photo: Forschungsteam 3 des 56. Postgraduierten-Kurses


As the implementation of our initial research project on digitisation and the fiscal contract in Colombia faced major difficulties due to the pandemic, we decided to turn our attention to a completely different topic instead: sustainable cities. This topic is “completely different”, also in the sense that we are using the circumstances to rethink the research phase. Currently, most planning can only be done “on sight”. This presents us with challenges, but also opens up the possibility of developing our topic step by step, thereby making flexibility our virtue.


Topics such as decent housing conditions, participatory urban design, as well as safe and reliable mobility play a central role in our research. Fortunately, there are numerous successful initiatives and projects in this area. But how is this “success” actually measured? Which groups of actors are significantly involved? How evidence-based is this “success” and what do promising governance models look like? These are the questions we will be addressing in the coming months. Our research is affiliated to a larger project of the International Climate Initiative (IKI) of the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU), which is going to implement pilot projects on transformative change towards zero emissions in five Latin American cities, with DIE conducting the accompanying research. Sustainable urban development is a global field for which we do not have to fly to the Global South. European cities are also facing major challenges in this field. Therefore, we as a research team will take a multi-level perspective and look at global examples in order to deal with concrete case studies in Europe in a second step.