25 June 2014
Professor Channing Arndt is a US citizen who recently started as a Senior Research Fellow at UNU-WIDER. He was especially attracted by the exciting work environment, the research programme, and the opportunity to work with people in developing countries. He has previously worked as an economist in countries of the global South and lived for many years in Mozambique and Morocco. He has also been a professor at a number of universities, including Purdue University in the USA, and continues his work with the University of Copenhagen.
In the first part of his interview with Carl-Gustav Linden (CGL) Channing Arndt (CA) explains in more depth what brings him to Helsinki, Finland
CGL: Why have you joined UNU-WIDER at this time in your career?
CA: UNU-WIDER has an exciting work programme going from 2014 to 2018, with a series of activities scheduled. We are working in three big areas: transformation, inclusion and sustainability. I have the ability, or the pleasure to, work across all of those areas, but I have particular responsibilities in sustainability. That is where I plan to be working more as I think it is an exciting programme.
CGL: What do you think makes UNU-WIDER unique?
CA: UNU-WIDER is unique in a number of ways. It is a UN institution. There are other UN institutions that do research, but UNU-WIDER is particularly well known and has a reputation for doing solid research, which I think precedes it.
It is also a small organization. There are only eight or ten researchers on the floor here, but we work with a broad network of people all around the world. I think that is unique, and this small core combined with this very large and high-quality network makes UNU-WIDER a very flexible organization, really able to move and adjust to new ideas. I also think that UNU-WIDER as an institution is hooked into the UN but not dependent on any particular programme or set of financing. We have an 'honest broker' appeal that makes our work in developing countries, frankly, a lot easier. When I go to countries and give policy advice it is actually a tremendous advantage that the politicians, or the bureaucrats or whomever else I am working with, has no repercussions if they ignore me. I can go and I can tell them what I think. If they do not want to do that they can ignore it without worrying about anything. As a consequence the advice is quite welcome because they can always turn it down. This builds relationships and allows us...