The UIA has collected, published and disseminated information on international non-profit organizations as its central activity, since its foundation in 1907. We believe that this information is important as non-governmental and voluntary associations are crucial actors in today’s society. It is through these groups and their networks that we can hope to respond to the increasingly complex problems facing the world.
Within this concern with civil society, our special areas of interest can be loosely divided into several categories, listed below. It should be noted that these categories reflect arbitrary divides, and much of our work crosses these boundaries. Nonetheless, we hope it serves as an introductory outline for those unfamiliar with the extent of our work.
All of UIA’s research relates in some way to the documentation and study of international non-profit organizations and their preoccupations. This section provides a brief overview of some of this work.
International Meetings and Conferences
Significant research at the UIA revolves around documenting meetings and events organized by international organizations in the form of the International Congress Calendar. Other work includes commentary on technical challenges of international conferences, participant interaction, knowledge sharing, and the progressive potential of transformative conferencing.
Encyclopedia of World Problems and Human Potential
Research for the Encyclopedia represents some of the most progressive and innovative work conducted at the UIA. It is the result of an ambitious effort, since 1972, to clarify the networks of problems humanity is faced with, and the challenges they pose to concept formation, values and development strategies.
The bibliographical work of the UIA has taken several distinct approaches, including: publications produced by international organizations and by organization executives; conference proceedings; studies of international organizations; and bibliography relating to the themes of the Encyclopedia of World Problems and Human Potential.
An important area of our research into international organizations is in the field of biographies. Having recorded the 'what' we were keen to investigate the 'who' - the people driving global civil society today.
Visualization and Sonorification
The UIA conducts research into new ways of presenting and conceptualizing debates and ideas around international civil society to inform debates on strategies for a better world order. Our pioneering work into alternative means of conceptualizing information and networks includes experiments with non-textual visualization or sonorification of information and the presentation of complex dialogue and strategy through metaphor.
Integrative Knowledge and Transdisciplinarity
A cross-cutting theme at the UIA relates to the challenge of integrating the mass of complex information generated through the various research areas, into a manageable, coherent and useful form. The need for this integration and inter- or trans-disciplinary approach is the growing realisation that a holistic perspective on current problems and strategies will yield the most effective results.