By Logan Miller
Prague is a city of many things. It is the City of a Hundred Spires, and the city of Kafka and Dvořák. It is a city that is rich in culture and delicious food. And it is home to some of the world’s best beer. But what brought me to Prague was not the food or beer, but the Global Arena Research Institute (GARI).
GARI is an up-and-coming think tank that is using data to better understand globalization. Currently, the world is trying to understand problems like global warming, international migration, international trade, and the global arms trade without using all of the data that is available. That is were GARI comes in, by using advanced data methods to dive deeper into these issue areas than previously possible. This is, as they call it, cracking the DNA of Globalization.
In my short time at GARI, I have been assisting with this data research. The other researchers and I have been finding sources relating to how oil and gas flow around the world. Once our work is done, the data will be handed over to our programmers, who will use it to further develop GARI’s data model.
I have also been helping with the organization of GARI’s annual Next 100 Symposium. The symposium brings leading thinkers from both the high-tech world and the social sciences to come together and discuss the future of globalization. This year’s exciting list of speakers include: Jeffery Sachs, one of the world’s leading experts on poverty and sustainable development; Tim Palmer, an Oxford physicist who helped develop the methods we use to measure climate change; and Patrick van der Smagt, head of the artificial intelligence (AI) research lab at Volkswagen Group. To help in the organization of the symposium, I have had the opportunity to develop my communication skills. I have designed an advertisement for the event that is now in a magazine of Czech finance. I have also been put in charge of our newsletter that is sent to all of GARI’s subscribers.
Prague is perfect city to study globalization. Its location in central Europe has meant that it has always been a place where ideas have been exchanged. On my weekends, I get to experience Prague’s rich history. I visited the National Museum, where I learned about the Christian reformer, Jan Hus, who predates Martin Luther, as well as the Museum of Communism, where I learned all about life behind the Iron Curtain during the Cold War. I also make a point of speaking with locals, and getting their perspectives on Czech culture and history.
So far, the only downside to life in Prague is that the traditional Czech meat-heavy cuisine is not very vegetarian friendly. The delicacies of steak with bread dumplings, roasted duck, or beef goulash don’t interest me much. This has been made worse by my lackluster knowledge of the Czech language. When ordering what I thought was fried cheese, I unfortunately received fried chicken, much to my dismay. But these are the sorts of challenges that arise when living abroad.
Prague is an exciting city. It is as interesting as it is beautiful. I can’t wait to see more and more of it in the months to come.