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In just a couple of years, Africa has gone from possessing a total bandwidth availability comparable to that of Norway to having almost one hundred million internet users and seven hundred million mobile users. Could this growth in access to information and communication technologies (ICT) represent an opportunity for economic development? Many have described this moment of transition as "Africa's century", ERC grantee and Oxford scholar Prof Mark Graham, a leading authority on the topic of technology and development, aims to understand this "digital revolution".
To confront the current challenge of managing a city of 20 million, the Egyptian government has revealed plans earlier this year (2015) to build a new capital city, 45 kilometres east of Cairo. The ambitious project tackles growth over the next 50 years and has been set to adapt to future challenges, including population density and land constraints. Like Cairo, many other metropolises are currently under pressure. At the University College London, ERC grantee Prof. Michael Batty, a distinguished theorist and modeller of urban change, works to develop a new 'Science of Cities'.
“The next war will be fought over water, not politics,” predicted United Nations Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali in 1991. But environmental changes and pressures also have impacts that – though just as important – may be slower and more difficult to spot.
Recent years have seen the emergence of new forms of political engagement, from the Arab Spring to the Occupy Movements in different countries, from online campaigning to community organising. With the support of the ERC, Prof. Engin Isin has led research to explore how different traditions and practices of citizenship from throughout the world are changing the way we think of political participation and activity in Europe.
Surveys such as the 2010 Eurobarometer show that people around Europe are worried about what they eat and where it comes from. But what causes this? And does it affect behaviour? An ERC project studied consumer choices about shopping, cooking and eating – offering a more accurate picture of what shapes their decisions. The results could lead to better-informed policies on health, sustainability and business.
Music has been a vital part of human cultures for millennia, and today it continues to evolve, taking vastly different forms around the world. Proceeding from the rich diversity of human music-making, Prof. Georgina Born has been investigating its transformation in the current digital era.
We normally think of anthropologists studying ‘exotic’ cultures – ancient tribes that live in faraway places. But how about cultures that are closer to home? Professor Rebecca Cassidy has devoted herself to anthropological studies of European cultures of gambling. In the ‘Gambling in Europe’ (GAMSOC) project – funded by the ERC – Prof. Cassidy and her team have taken this a step further, and conducted an anthropological study of the gambling research community itself.