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An Interview with David Malone

17 October 2013

In this video we interview the Rector of the United Nations University (UNU), David Malone from Canada, who has held both diplomatic and academic research positions, and who locates the UNU within the UN system as being on the interface between evidence-based research and policy. He underlines that the UNU was established as a think tank for the UN system, with an emphasis on research rather than teaching.

Both the UN system and national politicians, Malone argues, are open to new thinking. It is usually a minority who are prepared to prioritize new thinking, but it must be understood that politicians need to be convinced that a new approach is useful to their country, their party, and themselves—and this is an opportunity that forces academics to clarify what the main message of their research is. The UN Intellectual History Project documents how ideas have been taken up within the system and the role of some of the key thinkers in getting acceptance for new approaches.

Malone further argues that researchers must resist the danger of complexifying problems so that they become to be caricatured as being incapable of solution. Equally it is clear that either methodological or ideological fixation by researchers is not a basis for sound policy. 

by Roger Williamson 

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