The AIDC-IACL Blog has entered a new partnership with the Institute for Comparative Federalism of Eurac Research in Bolzano/Bozen, South Tyrol, Italy. Under this partnership, the editors of EURAC will provide periodic blog posts concerning their research, to be featured on the Blog.
THE INSTITUTE FOR COMPARATIVE FEDERALISM in BRIEF
Who we are, and what we aim for
The Institute for Comparative Federalism of Eurac Research in Bolzano/Bozen, South Tyrol, Italy, carries out comparative studies and applied research on federal, regional and local issues. Since the foundation of Eurac Research in 1992, the researchers of the Institute for Comparative Federalism have performed comparative and problem-solving oriented research throughout Europe and on a global scale, from both legal and political science perspectives.
The Institute’s work has three closely connected aims. First, to study federal, regional and local systems as well as decision-making processes in order to maintain an up-to-date knowledge base of the most recent legal frameworks and techniques of governance. Secondly, to apply this knowledge by analysing and resolving specific multilevel governance challenges in key policy areas, such as environmental issues, financial relations, cross-border cooperation, migration, immigration and education. Third, to challenge some of the most consolidated approaches in comparative federalism and democracy studies by advancing research agendas across disciplines as to institutional innovation and participatory democracy in both developed and developing compound states, and in various policy fields.
The team, composed of comparative constitutional lawyers and political scientists, looks at how constitutionalism and transnational law affects the governance of societal and territorial pluralism, especially through the lenses of federalism as a governance tool. This requires to critically rethink the conceptual framework and traditional research agendas in the fields of comparative federalism, regionalism, democracy, minority rights and autonomy studies.
What we do and offer
Publication and Dissemination
The Institute’s high-end academic output examines questions in the fields of comparative federalism and regionalism as well as policy-related issues from a functional, practical perspective, predominantly but not exclusively from a legal and political science perspective, and complements the classical political-philosophical approach. In their university textbooks, monographs, edited books, conference proceedings, articles and online series, the researchers revisit and deepen traditional scientific approaches and try to move beyond in a problem-solving perspective.
The Institute organises national and international conferences, seminars and workshops for the scientific community, civil servants and policy-makers, as well as the general public. Besides academic publications and with the aim of reaching a broader audience, the Institute disseminates its research output on their website, through a newsletter and social media channels (Twitter, Facebook, Youtube).
Educational Programs and Training Activities
The Institute’s regular cooperation with neighbouring universities in Bolzano/Bozen, Trento, Verona and Innsbruck, and a network of research institutes worldwide guarantees the international and interdisciplinary character of our research projects and training activities.
A well-established and renowned activity is the advanced “Winter School on Federalism and Governance” in cooperation with the University of Innsbruck. This yearly course offers a unique platform for ongoing international dialogue between academics and practitioners.
Since 2013, the Institute offers a research stay of up to three weeks at Eurac Research for the winner of the competitive “Eurac Federal Scholar in Residence-Program”. The aim of the program is to enhance the exchange of scholars dealing with federalism from a comparative perspective in order to both elaborate new project ideas and to stress the importance of conducting comparative research.
Researchers of the Institute for Comparative Federalism have also developed several teaching materials. Among others, the “Let’s go federal! Verbünden wir uns! Federiamoci!©” simulation game. Its underlying rationale is to create living labs where participants assume the function of political decision-makers as well as of civil servants. The Institute is often involved in carrying out this and other role-plays at universities and post-grad programs worldwide, as well as locally, in high schools.
The demand for high-level consultancy activities of the Institute for Comparative Federalism to both local and international stakeholders is constantly growing and constitutes therefore one of its main pillars of activities. The researchers offer expertise in form of presentations, the organisation and facilitation of capacity-building workshops, and consultations to delegations, in Eurac Research premises and on missions, writing reports and drafting legislation or completing studies.
Consultancy activities mainly regard the following topics: allocation of competences in (becoming) federal and regional states, constitutional reforms and their impact on autonomous regions, intergovernmental relations, minority rights, federalism as a tool for conflict resolution, participatory practices, cross-border cooperation and topics linked to the concept of multi-level governance.
Stakeholders are policy makers, international government delegations and organisations (the Council of Europe, the OSCE, the EU), NGOs, political foundations, universities and other institutions of higher education, especially but not exclusively in Eastern Europe, Asia and Africa.
The Institute for Comparative Federalism has a transnational character which is due not only to the comparative approach of its studies and the international composition of its staff, but also to its location in an autonomous, minority-inhabited region, at the crossroads between the German speaking and the Italian cultural communities. It is part of a comprehensive network of international partner organisations and universities and is, among others, member of the International Association of Centres for Federal Studies (IACFS), the International Association of Constitutional Law (IACL), the International Political Science Association (IPSA) and the European Consortium for Political Research (ECPR).