An OU academic has been awarded almost €2.5 million to research the rise of China and Europe’s place in the world as a result.
Professor Giles Mohan, Chair of International Development in the OU’s Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, has been awarded a European Research Council (ERC) Advanced Grant of €2,497,726.50 for the Re-orienting development: the dynamics and effects of Chinese infrastructure investment in Europe (REDEFINE) project.
The project which begins in autumn 2020 and will run for five years, will examine what China’s rise means for how we understand global development and, specifically, Europe’s place in it.
It will take into account the fact that after 15 years of ‘going out’ to access raw materials and new markets, often in the global South, China is making assertive moves into developed economies, which were boosted by the Belt and Road Initiative linking China to Europe. At the same time, many European economies stagnated following the 2008 financial crisis with governments cutting infrastructure investment and seeking alternative sources of finance. China now sees Europe as fertile ground for new infrastructure investment, yet many European firms and governments are ill-equipped to deal with these political and economic changes.
Professor Mohan said: “REDEFINE’s innovation is to use insights from international development to interrogate Chinese engagement in the heart of Europe and by doing so re-orient the Eurocentric debates in the social sciences around how we define and delimit development, who drives these processes, and what it means for societies affected by such investments.“
ERC Advanced grants are only awarded to established research leaders with a recognised track record of research achievements and the ERC review panel saw Professor Mohan’s contribution as one which provides valuable new and original empirical insights, a substantial theory-building contribution and promises fundamentally to reshape existing scholarly fields of knowledge (in particular, the field of development studies).
The panel said:
“The Principal Investigator (Professor Mohan) is especially well qualified to undertake this challenging, interdisciplinary, and collaborative project. He has extensive experience with administering collaborative research programmes, and the substantial record of mentoring new generations of scholar. The panel also appreciated the ambitious scope of the proposal and the timely and original scholarly interventions that it offers.”
Professor Mohan is one of 185 winners of the annual ERC Advanced Grants competition announced on 31 March. The winners will explore their most daring and innovative ideas proposed in response to last year’s call. The new research projects, apart from strengthening Europe’s knowledge base, will also lead to creation of some 1,800 new jobs for post-doctoral fellows, PhD students and other research staff.
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