Research at the Cline Center
Being housed within the intellectual core of a major research university, the creation of new knowledge is at the core of the Cline Center's activities. The Center's research agenda is designed to enhance our understanding of democratic governance and its capacity to advance the human condition. In pursuing this agenda it is distinguished by its commitment to a core set of principles. The Center allocates its research resources to the study of "big questions" as opposed to puzzle-solving or purely methodological exercises. In addressing those questions it is committed to the use of rigorous methods and the adherence to scientific principles. Moreover, it embraces interdisciplinary approaches, having engaged scholars from political science, law, computer science, communications, geography, information science and atmospheric science in its research initiatives. The Center also has a global orientation and is devoted to the use of advanced information technologies to enhance its capacity to generate new, socially useful knowledge. Finally, the Cline Center is committed to the dissemination of its research to a broad array of audiences (global policymakers, government officials, civic leaders, informed citizens, and social scientists).
The Center Center's research efforts are structured within an integrated set of programs. The bulk of its resources at this stage of its development are devoted to the Center's signature research initiative, the Societal Infrastructures and Development Project (SID). SID is a long-term, institutionalized program of research that addresses one of the most perplexing challenges of the twenty-first century: How can we enhance the quality of life (economic well-being, health, civil peace, etc.) for people throughout the world? The SID project is an interdisciplinary effort that focuses on 175 nations in the post WW II era; it was initiated in 2004. SID blends both broad, cross-cutting research initiatives and a set of thematic research projects; the data assembled by these initiatives are integrated in the Cline Center's data warehouse, where they can be integrated for analysis.
The Center also has a research fellows program. This program supports investigator-initiated research projects designed by University of Illinois faculty that are focused within one of four programmatic areas: Democratic Citizenship and Civic Engagement; Global Democratization; Democratic Institutions and Processes; and Democratic Governance and Societal Welfare. Also, beginning in the 2010-11 AY, the Cline Center will annually appoint up to two Merriam Scholars who will receive stipends and research budgets to pursue research that will further the Center's mission. Publications and white papers are also available for Center-based research.
In furtherance of its research mission, the Cline Center also occasionally sponsors scholarly conferences which assemble outside experts to address relevant themes. In conjunction with the University of Illinois Press, the Center sponsors a book series, "Democracy, Free Enterprise and the Rule of Law". Finally, University of Illinois students can become involved in the Center's research through the Cline Center Research Practicum.