PluriCourts is exceptional, and will continue for another five years
The Research Council of Norway endorsed the report from the mid term Evaluation Committee.
The Committee report
The Committee praised PluriCourts for a wide range of achievements: the publication record, the databases created, and the opportunities and research environment it provides - not only at PluriCourts but also for the Faculty of law and the University of Oslo.
The Evaluation Committee offered eight recommendations, which the co-directors Geir Ulfstein and Andreas Follesdal fully endorse and hope reaches all relevant parties. Some recommendations concern the good, the bad and the ugly.
The legacy of the Centre of Excellence
The good is that we look forward to continuing our constructive dialogue with the Faculty of Law, the Department of Political Science and the Department of Philosophy about how to enhance their research and training also after PluriCourts formally comes to an end. Indeed, the Minister of Education is committed at looking at how to continue such successful clusters (read more in Norwegian).
This political initiative is urgent for some of the Centres of Excellence at the University of Oslo which end this year, such as CSMN and CEES. For PluriCourts, this political support is very welcome as we continue to look at opportunities for the various partners at the University of Oslo to maintain our research networks, workshops for judges, PhD courses, data bases and mentoring activities - to mention a few.
Concerns regarding office space
The "bad" concerns moving into new office space. The Evaluation Committee noted our concerns and recommend that we should be secured comparable space and offices. Our very able negotiators at the Department of Public and international Law and at the Faculty have had partial success in negotiating single offices, but the offices are far too small to serve the purpose - half the size of today's offices. They are thus not comparable. Several Norwegian universities - including ours - seem reluctant to heed research based worries about too small and too few single offices for researchers who need them, and the challenges to alleged benefits of landscape offices for our kinds of research. Read a comment by PluriCourts director Andreas Føllesdal (in English) on this matter.
A less than excellent web page
The "ugly" concerns our web page. The Evaluation Committee correctly underscores the need for a website better aligned to our needs and to those of our target audiences - not to mention the aesthetics. We have pushed the boundaries of the university web regime and pursued the proper channels to secure much needed flexibility. Our extensive efforts have only met with some limited success. By now we have come close to exhausting local remedies with little realistic hope of real, speedy and cost-effective improvement; and we have confirmed that several other Centres of Excellence face similar problems. We have brought our concerns to the attention of the Presidency of the University of Oslo, and will contact the Research Council of Norway again about our plight.
But the main, good news remains: PluriCourts continues for another five years!