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Research programme

The Department of Political Science conducts cutting edge research into the challenges that citizens, practitioners and policymakers face today. Globalization has affected the ability of governments to shape developments in their respective societies. At the same time, citizens, themselves sensing the opportunities and constraints of globalization, expect their governments to take their interests seriously. Governments thus must act at the global, regional, local and national level in order to meet citizens’ demands in a context of changing governmental capabilities.


The distinctive Departmental approach to tackle these issues is its focus on legitimacy and institutional change: institutional change (globally, regionally, nationally) may accommodate demands and affect capabilities; legitimacy is indispensable in effectuating institutional change, whereas institutional performance will affect legitimacy and thus the long-term resilience of societies.

Research themes

To this purpose, the Department has organized its research in two distinct, yet related, research themes: Sustainable Democracy and Conflict at the Crossroads of the Global and the National. The former addresses legitimacy challenges faced by democracies today, the consequences of those challenges for democratic stability and erosion, and the institutional change that may help to tackle such challenges and revitalize democracy. The latter focuses on how the contestation of the legitimacy of global, regional and national institutions may lead to major violent and non-violent conflict and on how such conflict may invoke institutional change. The department’s research programme thus creates crucial knowledge contributing to the United Nations’ Strategic Development Goals:

Each theme represents cutting edge research that has attracted external funding and has established cooperation with societal stakeholders. Each theme also offers disciplinary building blocks for five multidisciplinary Hot Spots at IMR: Sustainable Democracy, GLOCAL, Gender and Power in Politics and Management, and EUROPAL.