In addition to individual research activities, the School has undertaken various interdisciplinary research projects.

The reform of the Chinese growth model: economic, political and institutional issues (funded by the Autonomous Province of Trento)

The research project focuses on the evolution of the Chinese growth model. Despite the remarkable economic performance attained so far, the Chinese socio-economic model has, in fact, been characterised by significant macroeconomic imbalances and serious social problems that need to be addressed soon. The Chinese elite is aware of the urgency of such a wide range of reforms, but the much-needed corrective actions appear to be politically, institutionally and socially challenging. This research project aims to develop some theoretical macroeconomic models to study the transition path and the long-term implications on growth of various reform scenarios, taking fully into account the delicate balance of power between the dominant social groups and the elite that governs the country. The project will also aim to address the impact of the transformation of the Chinese socio-economic model on the international relations that China maintains with the Western countries and its Asian neighbours.

Leading team: Luigi Bonatti, Andrea Fracasso e Paolo Rosa (+ Chiara Tomasi at the DEM)
Post-doc Fellow: Peng Bin (until March 2016)

Outcomes and details here

Crisis in the European Union: between Transnational Integration and National Disintegration (funded by the Autonomous Province of Trento)

The project will deal with the notion of crisis in the European Union. It will focus on the definition of crisis in the European system, as it evolved historically in its various components (institutional, political, economic, social, and moral) and discuss the outcomes of crisis. The project is multidisciplinary in nature. It will however articulate in several more specific areas of research, all interconnected. The historical dimension will revolve around the comparison of the features of the crisis in the 1970s and nowadays, reflecting on the factors that suggest opposite responses - more Europe vs less Euro(pe). Specific focuses will include the changes in structural element of European integration, and especially the national dimension of redistributive policies, the development of technocratic transnational networks and specialised systems of knowledge, the definition of European citizenship and the entitlement to differentiated degrees of protection of rights, the perception of a democratic deficit and the prospects of solution.

Leading team: Luisa Antoniolli, Matteo Borzaga, Gustavo Corni, Giorgio Guido Fodor, Sara Lorenzini, Carlo Ruzza, Jens Woelk
Post-doc Fellow: Umberto Tulli (untill December 2015)

Outcomes and details here

Flagship collective publication: Antoniolli L., L. Bonatti and C. Ruzza (eds) Highs and Lows of European Integration. Sixty Years After the Treaty of Rome. Springer, 2019 

In light of Europe’s prolonged state of crisis, this book reassesses the challenges and prospects of the European integration process. Scholars from diverse disciplines reflect on various types of integration by analyzing political, economic and sociological variables, while also taking legal and cultural constraints into account. Readers will learn about the dilemmas and challenges of the European transformation process as well as political reforms to overcome these challenges.

Firms and workers at the crossroad: new challenges for the Italian economic systems (co-founded by Fondazione Caritro)

The recent economic literature has uncovered a set of stylized facts such as the fall in the labour share of income, the slowdown in productivity and aggregate output, the diffusion of robotisation in production, and the uneven distribution of firms’ market power. Advances in production technologies and changes in market structures and in the bargaining relationships may link the increase in industry concentration to the decrease in the labour share of income. These concurrent phenomena may then increase inequality and polarise societies. Addressing such imbalances to achieve inclusive growth appears then an urgent priority, shared by policymakers, trade unions and business representatives. However, a better understanding of these phenomena is a necessary pre-condition to design appropriate actions. The project has two main objectives. The first is to document the evolution of market power of Italian firms and see how this relates to the above-mentioned imbalances. The second is to explore the effects of robotisation on the labour market. Robotisation can enhance labour productivity but also displace workers: what effect dominates requires further scrutiny. The value added of this project is the possibility of joining forces with local partners to address these issues from a national and regional perspective. The partnerships allow us to overcome the lack of evidence on the same topics in Italy and in Trentino and to ensure a long-lasting impact on the local economic system.
This research receives financial support by the Fondazione Caritro (Project 2018.0258).

Leading team: Andrea Fracasso (PI), Mauro Caselli, Stefano Schiavo
Post-doc Fellow: Jasmine Mondolo and Silvio Traverso
External partners: ISPAT, CCIAA di Trento, CGIL del Trentino, UIL del Trentino

Outcomes and details here

The EU Trade Policy in Civil Wars and Other Cases of Contested Sovereignty: An International Law Perspective (co-funded by Trentino Sviluppo and UniVerona)

Cases of contested sovereignty touch upon the cardinal principle on which statehood and the functioning of the international community are based: that one and only governmental authority represents at the international level human groups located in a given state territory.   The real or perceived unlawfulness of some territorial situations might put into question the legality/legitimacy of entertaining economic relations with entities responsible for the conduct that brought about the situation itself. 
Against this complex backdrop, the project aims at investigating the process of formation of the EU trade policy in cases of contested sovereignty from an inductive  perspective, i.e. based on a scrutiny of the practice of the relevant actors, and at assessing the consistency of the  EU trade policy in light of the rules of international and EU law.

Both the problems and their possible solutions will be at the very centre of the dissemination activities carried out during the project. Through a partnership with Trentino Sviluppo - a company established by the Autonomous Province of Trento to foster the sustainable growth of the local economy - the research team will organize a number of seminars and meetings with local entrepreneurs and companies with the aim of bridging the gap between practitioners and the academia. Starting from October 2019, the project is supported also by the Department of Law of the University of Verona.

Research team: Marco Pertile, Antonino Alì, Andrea Fracasso
Post-doc Fellow: Sondra Faccio
Post-doc Fellow: Vito Todeschini (until December 2017)

Outcomes and details here

Science, Technology and International Relations (STERI) 

Leading team: Paolo Foradori, Stefano Schiavo
Post-doc Fellow: Georgios Glouftsios

The STERI project originates from the cognizance that in the complex and globalized contemporary world, the increasingly close relationship between scientific-technological and social knowledge requires greater and deeper integration between academic fields that can no longer remain distinct and impermeable to mutual cooperation. The pervasive use of technologies in today’s societies requires increasing attention toward such issues as scientific knowledge, technology production and control, and research and development. At the same time, political-social, cultural, and economic dynamics have a profound impact on the development of knowledge and scientific progress as well as its technological applications. The nexus between science and society is particularly stringent in the context of international affairs, here considered from multiple dimensions, including social, political, legal, economic and security.

Outcomes and details here

Personalization, Institutionalization and Deinstitutionalization: the new power dynamics (financed as project PRIN 2015)

The goal of the research project is to examine the political-sociological aspects of populist and anti-populist parties and groups in Europe. The research focuses on the analysis of empirical and theoretical aspects of the populist phenomenon in recent years. Activities delve into the discursive aspects of populism and anti-populism, and focus in particular on European institutions and civil society organisations.

Leading team: Carlo Ruzza
Post-doc Fellows: Carlo Berti; Paolo Cossarini

Outcomes and details here 

PRIN 2015 – 40102915 – Prof. Ruzza. “Personalization, institutionalization and de-institutionalization: the new dynamics of power” CUP E62F15000470005

Anti-establishment voting and economic integration

The aim of the project is to examine empirically the potential link between the rise of anti-establishment parties and the increase in economic integration, with both European and non-European countries. It will study if anti-establishment parties have obtained relatively more votes across national Parliamentary elections in Italy and other European countries with available data within those regions most affected by economic integration and the recent crisis.

Leading team: Mauro Caselli, Andrea Fracasso, Carlo Ruzza, Stefano Schiavo
Post-doc Fellow: Silvio Traverso

Caselli, M., Fracasso A., and S. Traverso 2020. Globalization, robotization and electoral outcomes: Evidence from spatial regressions for Italy" Journal of Regional Science, forthcoming, 

Caselli, M.Fracasso A., and S. Traverso 2019 Globalization and electoral outcomes: Evidence from ItalyEconomics & Politics  3268-103

Caselli, M, Fracasso A, and S. Traverso 2018 "Globalization and electoral outcomes. Evidence from Italy", DEM Working  paper 2018/7 and EconPol Working Paper 10, May 2018


BeneLex - Benefit sharing for an equitable transition to the green economy (ERC starting grant project)

The BeneLex project aims to investigate the conceptual and practical dimensions of fair and equitable benefit-sharing, including its role and limitations in ensuring fairness and equity in the identification and allocation among different stakeholders of the advantages arising from environmental protection, the sustainable use of natural resources, and the production of knowledge.
The BeneLex project seeks to better understand the progressive development of fair and equitable benefit-sharing obligations and modalities in different areas of international environmental law (biodiversity, food and agriculture, oceans, watercourses, climate change) and their intersection with international human rights law. Equally, the BeneLex project attempts to identify challenges for indigenous peoples and local communities connected to benefit sharing in different sectors and in different regions of the world. The project includes case studies in Greece, South Africa, Namibia, Argentina and Malaysia.

The BeneLex team, under PI Prof. Elisa Morgera, is based at Strathclyde Centre for Environmental Law and Governance in Scotland, UK. 

Leading team: Louisa Parks 


Global Perspectives on Fair and Equitable Benefit-Sharing" (BeneLex Workshop - October 15th-16th, 2018)

Elisa Morgera, interviewed by Louisa Parks, outlines the many different areas of international law that talk about benefit-sharing and reflects on the important interlinkages between international biodiversity and international human rights law.

Louisa Parks, interviewed by Elsa Tsioumani, outlines findings from the BeneLex project’s local-level case studies across the globe – what are the common issues that these local communities faced when discussing and dealing with benefit-sharing? Do these common issues find any reflection in international circles?

Elsa Tsioumani, interviewed by Elisa Morgera, outlines her research on benefit-sharing in land, food, and agriculture. She outlines her findings regarding the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture and its provisions on benefit-sharing for seed exchanges between farmers that are crucial for biodiversity.


Journal articles

Book chapter

  • Gaglia Bareli, Maria, Geelhoed, Miranda, Parks, Louisa, Morgera, Elisa, Tsioumani, Elsa, ‘The unintended consequences of the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy for local communities’ in Cardwell, Paul James and Granger, Marie-Pierre (eds) Research Handbook on the Politics of EU Law, forthcoming July 2020, Edward Elgar:

Older projects

A Legal Analysis of the Financial and Economic Crisis Management in the European Union: Intergovernamentalism and its Implications (funded by the Autonomous Province of Trento)

The economic and financial crisis that has hit economies around the world in the last few years has pointed out an overall lack of tools to properly address market turbulence at European level. Against this background, default risks and fears of contagion throughout Europe urged EU Member States to set up effective mechanisms to cope with single national vulnerabilities. This happened mostly through the conclusion of international agreements outside the EU Treaties framework. Such an approach gives rise to a number of sound legal questions, not only as to the limits of the current normative framework, but also as to the relationship between the instruments put in place and the Treaties system. It also stimulates further reflection on the current and future role of the Union in economic governance and the possible evolution of the relevant normative framework. The overall purpose of the research project is thus to investigate the causes that led to an intergovernmental approach to crisis management by EU Member States, assess its impact on the EU legal system and discuss its possible future developments.

Leading team: Antonino Alì, Giorgio Guido Fodor, Marco Pertile
Post-doc Fellow: Chiara Sisler (untill March 2016)

Outcomes and details here

The global virtual-water network: social, economic and environmental implications (funded by MIUR, call FIRB 2012 – Future in Research)

Team leader: Stefano Schiavo
Research team: Andrea Fracasso, Marco Pertile, Martina Sartori, Stefano Schiavo, Paolo Turrini

This is a multidisciplinary project that studies the main drivers and consequences of international virtual water flows. Virtual water is the water virtually embodied in all commodities, so that the exchange of goods represents a way to transfer water from water-rich countries to water-scarce ones, and therefore can enhance water efficiency at a global level. The research activity carried out at the SIS aims at identifying the main economic and legal determinants of virtual water flows, and their impact on global water efficiency.

The INTL-UNI Project: The Challenges of the Multilingual and Multicultural Learning Space in the International University (funded by EU Commission)

Team leader: Catherine Riley

In the process of internationalisation, universities are faced with new challenges and opportunities for maintaining and improving the quality of their programmes. Students and lecturers alike form much more heterogeneous groups than ever before, speaking a wide spectrum of languages and representing a wide spectrum of cultural backgrounds in what may be termed the Multilingual and Multicultural Learning Space (M&MLS). This three-year EU funded project aims to identify ways of addressing these challenges and making the most of the opportunities to eventually produce a series of quality criteria for international programmes.

Differences, migration, integration: education to citizenship in the age of legal pluralism (funded by Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio Trento e Rovereto - Caritro)

Post-Doc Fellow: Serena Tomasi (until 2016)

The project is carried out with the synergic contributions of the Faculty of Law (Centro di Ricerche sulla Metodologia Giuridica, CERMEG, of the University of Trenti), local Istituti Scolastici Comprensivi and Centro Intercultura della P.A.T.
The research focus on the working out of an original model of argumentation & education in the context of the current law and values’ pluralism. The aim is to enhance intercultural dialogue and stimulate - since the first cycle of tuition - those skills required to get acknowledged with European and transnational sources of law, as well as being able to play an active citizenship, suited to the needs of the local school scenario.
In addition, the project aims at developing a tool fostering key competences in the European context of the qualifications for life-long learning, related to self-fulfilment, active citizenship and social cohesion. The use of fundamental argumentation techniques will enable first cycle students to learn concepts and sources of law (local, national, European and international) and, above all, develop cognitive skills in data analysis (legal, political, social) in the evaluation of controversial situations, in clear and proper presentation of individual requests, in reducing aggressive attitudes. The project also includes meta-didactic exercise in class.

CLIMAWARE (Change Impacts on Future Availability of WAter REsources and Hydro-Geological Risks (UNITN project, in cooperation with DICAM, Department of Civil, Enviromental and Mechanic Engineering)

Leading team: Andrea Fracasso, Marco Pertile, Stefano Schiavo
Post-doc Fellows: Paolo Turrini, Martina Sartori (expired)

The SPEAQ Project: Sharing Practice in Enhancing and Assuring Quality (funded by EU Commission)

Team leader: Catherine Riley

The general aim of this two-year EU funded project is to connect the three key quality stakeholders: teacher, student and quality manager in order to share and enhance quality assurance practice in higher education and ultimately foster a quality culture. At a local level the project focused on a student-driven project to enhance the educational experience of international students, and as a consequence also national students by enhancing information an communication channels at all levels and between all stakeholders.

The Structure and Growth of World Trade and the Role of Europe in the Global Economy

Research fellowship in memory of the late prof. Ferdinando Targetti  (funded by Fondazione Banca Intesa San Paolo)

Tutoring Professor: Stefano Schiavo
Post-doc Fellow: Shamnaaz Begum Sufrauj 

The project aims at investigating the growing interdependency of social and economic relationships among world countries using a network approach. It proposes a simple stochastic model of network formation and evolution, to describe the structure and dynamic properties of international trade, and uses it as a benchmark against which to test the performance of each country.

PhD research

The PhD Programme in International Studies has the mission of training doctoral students to be capable of competing internationally for prestigious positions in academia and international organizations. 
The PhD educational objectives include:

  • understanding the theoretical approaches upon which the disciplines at the core of International Studies (Economics, Law and Political Science) are founded;
  • the ability to apply analytical and empirical research methods in the key disciplines;
  • familiarity with the necessary tools for submitting research projects to scientific commissions (including non-university commissions), for presenting research results in public and for submitting articles and reviews to national and international scientific journals.

As a result, the development of an interdisciplinary education lies at the heart of the PhD programme. Comprehension of the theoretical approaches and knowledge of empirical methods are tightly integrated into the course and theoretical propositions are verified empirically in order to encourage the student to develop a capacity for critical thought on changes in the international system. The programme includes compulsory courses in the first year, written and oral tests.
Scientific areas:
International Economic Policy, European Policy, Economic and Monetary Integration, International Law, International and EU Labour Law, International Trade and Economic Development, European Union Law, Comparative studies of Law, International Criminal Law, Transnational Crime, European Union Public Policy, Comparative Public Policy, Multilevel Governance, Peace-building and Conflict Resolution.
The programme lasts for three years and is open to citizens of any country who have achieved a qualification in disciplines related to international studies.