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Department of Comparative Politics

DIVERSITY BREEDS ORIGINALITY

Fourteen nationalities now represented at Comparative Politics

Diverse groups are more likely to succeed

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14 flags at the Department of Comparative Politics
The fourteen nationalities represented at the Department of Comparative Politics.

With the recent hire of post-doctoral researchers from Italy, Kenya and Macedonia, along with a guest scholar form Azerbaijan and a research assistant from Kosovo, the Department of Comparative Politics now counts 14 different nationalities among its more than four dozen tenured and untenured staff.

Within the past several years, the department has hired scholars from Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, Peru, and France. They joined existing employees from Sweden, Turkey, the United States, and of course Norway. 

Strength from diversity

Department head Jan Oskar Engene says diversity makes sense in a department that studies political difference.

Moreover, he says, diversity makes SAMPOL more vibrant, creative and resourceful. He notes that, according to research, diverse groups are more likely to succeed than groups that are homogenous.

Diversity also fulfills a goal – indeed, a legal mandate – of the University of Bergen. UiB has sought to diversify its staff by encouraging members of underrepresented demographic groups to apply for calls for positions.

As of 2014, UiB was home to 870 international employees representing 79 countries. After Norway, the countries with the most UiB employees were Germany (137), Sweden (70), the United Kingdom (64), the United States (51) and China (35).

These numbers are good, says Engene, but he notes that diversity must be used for more than just producing numbers in annual reports. The goal of diversification has not always been linked to clear measures of progress, making it hard to determine whether, and when, diversity is prompting positive change.

Engene says organizations must recognize that diversity brings challenges along with opportunities. Diverse groups are more likely to come up with innovative ideas. And that is exactly what is supposed to take place at a university.