By Nathaniel Welch

Greetings, or as they say in Prague, Ahoj! Beginning in September, I, along with my colleague Logan Miller, arrived in Prague to work with the Global Arena Research Institute, or GARI for short. GARI is an independent non-profit think tank/NGO focused on studying the effects of globalization on the world as we know it. GARI has a particular interest in leveraging new innovative technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Big Data that are rarely applied to social-science issues in order to develop a comprehensive understanding of flows of people, information, technology, energy, and more!

I am very excited to work with GARI on various projects including research on a number of interdisciplinary issues such as Climate Change, global energy flows, and intersectional relationships between technology, economics, politics, and more. GARI has also provided ample opportunities to contribute to projects in ways that were previously outside my comfort zone. One of the first projects Logan and I were assigned was to create an advert for a Czech banking magazine, Bankovnictví, for GARI’s upcoming international conference, the Next 100 symposium. While it was my first foray into graphic design and marketing, it was a remarkably interesting and fulfilling assignment given my complete lack of experience in the area.

Preparing for the Next 100 symposium is one of the central projects that I will be assisting with while in Prague. The conference already has a number of prestigious speakers and guests slated including prominent American economist Jeffrey Sachs, Director of The Earth Institute at Colombia University, and most recently announced, Jim Balsillie (of the Balsillie School of International Affairs (BSIA) and Research in Motion (RIM)) will be giving a keynote address at the start of the conference. I am particularly proud of my role in reaching out to and facilitating Mr. Balsillie’s involvement in the Next 100 symposium. I believe his expertise on issues of data privacy, technological innovation, and the policy and regulation of global data flows makes him an invaluable contributor to the conference.

While I have only been in the Czech Republic a matter of weeks, I can say assuredly that Prague is one of the most culturally rich and beautiful cities that I have had the fortune of visiting. It’s remarkable how well preserved the old city and classical architecture is despite the modernization of the city as a whole. Everywhere I go I am in awe of the intricacy of some of the exterior décor, and walking the cobbled streets along the riverside makes me feel like I’ve travelled decades, if not centuries into the past. The people are warm and friendly, the food is rich and hearty, and the beer… The beer is not only delicious and abundant, but it is literally cheaper than water.

I am both excited and still somewhat terrified of living in such a different setting, but between the welcoming atmosphere of GARI and its staff, and the wonder of the new city I find myself in, I believe it is safe to say my fun has only just begun!