The department holds an annual Research Forum consisting of formal research talks given by external renowned academics and also invited UPF-DCPIS lecturers and researchers. The speakers use the forum to discuss innovative lines of research and theoretical inquiry, report on particular projects and research results, and discuss the application of new methodologies to specific fields.

The main goals of the Research Forum are to:

  • Foster a fruitful dialogue and exchange of ideas among those attending the talks.
  • Contribute to the academic training and socialization of our PhD and Master students.
  • Invigorate the internal climate and culture of the department
  • Strengthen the academic reputation of UPF-DCPIS internationally.

Research Forum talks will take place on Thursdays 12-1:30 PM (rooms TBA) and are open to all DCPIS members and beyond (online registration to the talks will be required for all attendees). Faculty and instructors are kindly asked to bring their students (only at the Master and PhD level) to these presentations and offer academic credit for their attendance and participation.

Each invited speaker will be taken out to lunch by her/his host, and individual/group meetings between the speaker and interested faculty and students can also be available on that day, based on the speaker’s availability and schedule. The goal of these meetings is to facilitate a direct exchange of ideas and for the students to have an opportunity to network and consult with the speaker regarding their research projects. Each speaker’s host is responsible for organizing these activities (i.e., lunch and meetings).

Download the programme for the 2023-2024 academic year here: Research Forum Programme'23-24

Check out all the past sessions of the Research Forum 2022-2023!


Climate Change & Climate Ethics: the problem of compliance to Rawl's just saving principle

Speaker: Mark Sanjaume (UPF - Political Theory Research Group)

How can Rawls's theory of justice be applied to understand climate change? Marc Sanjaume highlights the disheartening reality of our tendency to prioritize short-term gains over the needs of future generations when applying Rawl’s just savings principle in the debate on climate change. Could the Rosian scheme of contractualism be an alternative approach? How important is intergenerational justice?

During this session, various topics under the umbrella of climate activism are highlighted, such as the need for intergenerational agreements, the inclusion of non-human voices, barriers to the inclusion of children’s voices, and ultimately the call for collective responsibility to create a balanced narrative leading a discussion for a sustainable future.

The Structural and Cultural Antecedents of Meriticratic Beliefs

Speaker: Shahrzad Goudarzi (UPF - GRETA) 

Meritocracy is deeply intertwined with the influences of neoliberal systems. Shahrzad Goudarzi advocates for a broader understanding of the term by considering macro and micro-level factors to allow for a more inclusive approach.

Meritocratic beliefs are not solely driven by individual values and ideologies, they are also heavily influenced by structural and cultural factors. A striking correlation exists between the rise of neo-liberalization and increased income inequality. Understanding the cultural and economic influences on meritocracy is crucial for comprehending people's preferences for distributive justice.

The Effects of Social Media during an electoral campaign: can we incentivise citizens to be better informed?

Speaker: Kevin Arceneaux (Science Po - Prof of Political Science) 

Besides the positive aspects of social media, it has also been known for being used to spread misinformation, empower extremists, and polarize users’ opinions with an algorithm that hardly exposes them to opposing views.

In his study, Kevin Arceneaux investigated the potential impact of the use of Facebook during the French presidential election. Some participants were asked to deactivate their Facebook accounts, whereas others were just probed with healthier ways to engage with social media.

Participants without Facebook access increasingly gravitated toward other forms of entertainment. Were they less polarised or less informed on ongoing political debates? Did any of the participants decide to stay off Facebook after the study?

Learning in school or because of school? How schools affect learning inequality

Speaker Giampiero Passaretta (UPF - DEMOSOC)

Various studies indicate that there is significant learning inequality among children before they enter school. The family’s socioeconomic status, migration background, and parental separation are common factors.

Do schools contribute, reduce, or increase learning inequality among children with different backgrounds?

Giampiero Passaretta introduces the "differential exposure approach", which examines the impact of differential school exposure on learning outcomes. He does this by comparing children who had the same schooling exposure but started school at a different age.

The Political Psychology of transforming environmental beliefs and behaviour

Speaker: Lala Muradova (UPF - DEMOSOC)

Lala Muradova presents her research on emotions and persuasion and how these can (or cannot) change political views on public policies related to climate change.

How are political attitudes and beliefs in democracies formed by individuals? What are ways to improve political reasoning and reflective political thinking and reduce bias? Lala’s experiment also highlights some negative side effects on pro-environmental policy support.

Examining the Association between Abortion and Mental Health: The mis(use) of Science in U.S. Policy Courts

Speaker: Julia Steinberg (University of Maryland - Associate Professor, Family Science)

Julia Steinberg shows that abortions in the US do not cause or increase mental health problems. Her findings contribute to an ongoing discussion about anti-abortion scholars and aim to improve policy-making and accessibility for women in difficult situations. In her talk, she also mentions the difficulties researchers face when combatting false information with scientific evidence. 

This video is only available for students and professors of UPF upon request.


Environmental Determinants of Cognitive Health and Dementia in U.S. Older Adults

Speaker: Jennifer Ailshire (Uni Southern California - Associate Professor of Gerontology & Sociology)

Jennifer Ailshire’s research is a great example of how to work across different research disciplines. By 2050, there will be a three-fold increase in dementia worldwide. We urgently need to understand the driving risks and improve care. Improved education and air quality have shown promising developments in reducing the incidence and prevalence of dementia in older cohorts. This is another stepping stone to highlight the importance of working across disciplines and including socio-economic factors in hard-science research. Educational and environmental factors are important when measuring and improving cognitive health, factors that are typically not included in clinical research.

Past the Québec Referendum: Lessons from the Canadian Clarity Act in the Context of the Catalonia-Spain Debate

Speaker: Félix Mathieu (University of Winnipeg - Assistant Professor Department of Political Science)

As experts and politicians are debating the potential value of adopting a Catalan “Clarity Act,” what lessons can we draw from the experience of Québec-Canada dynamics? This session aims at exploring the normative rationale of the Supreme Court of Canada’s 1998 Reference re Secession of Québec. In doing so, the Court’s decision will be mobilized to critically assess the scope and impacts of the Clarity Act adopted in 2000 by the Canadian Parliament. It suggests that the argument developed by the Court is of great value and might serve as an inspiring framework in the Catalan-Spanish debate. But Clarity Act also produced a serious federalism deficit and should not be emulated stricto sensu.

We want to thank everyone who participated and hope to see you next year again for further insightful research topics!