World University Rankings 2014/15

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This year’s World Science Day for Peace and Development, established by UNESCO in 2001, is promoting Quality Science Education: ensuring a sustainable future for all. According to UNESCO, the day “offers an opportunity to mobilize various partners to highlight the important role of science in society and to engage the wider public in debates on emerging scientific issues and the relevance of science in their daily lives”. While the importance of science is less disputed, the reality of ensuring scientific progress through excellent academic education remains a highly unequal matter, as many global academic rankings show.
This feature is an update to the work originally compiled last year in collaboration with Phil Baty of Times Higher Education and which first appeared in the World University Rankings. In this update I put the latest rankings results for 2014/15 into a human and economic perspective. The first two maps show the top 200 Universities from the Ranking displayed on two different kinds of gridded cartograms:

THE World University Ranking maps
(click for larger version)

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Unequal Elite: The THE World University Rankings

This feature was compiled in collaboration with Phil Baty of Times Higher Education and first appeared in the World University Rankings 2013-2014. In the following blog post we put the rankings results into a human and economic perspective (modified version from the original article). The two maps show the top 200 Universities from the Ranking displayed on two different kinds of gridded cartograms:


(click for larger version)

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The State of the European Union

The European Union is an economic and political partnership between 27 European countries that together cover a large part of the European continent. As the EU website explains: “It was created in the aftermath of the Second World War. The first steps were to foster economic cooperation: the idea being that countries who trade with one another become economically interdependent and so more likely to avoid conflict. The result was the European Economic Community (EEC), created in 1958, and initially increasing economic cooperation between six countries: Belgium, Germany, France, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. Since then, a huge single market has been created and continues to develop towards its full potential. But what began as a purely economic union has also evolved into an organisation spanning all policy areas, from development aid to environment. A name change from the EEC to the European Union (the EU) in 1993 reflected this change.
The Nobel Prize Committee recognised the achievements of the European Union by awarding the 2012 Peace Price to the projectfor over six decades contributed to the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe“. But in the shadow of the European debt crisis Europe appears less the united with Euroscepticism gaining momentum in some countries. A 2009 study by the European Commission “Portugal and Hungary (both 50%) and Latvia (51%) contain the fewest people who feel optimistic about the EU’s future. The UK (53%), Greece (54%) and France (57%) also record noticeably low figures” (see page 212 in the accompanying report). “Euroscepticism in the United Kingdom has been a significant element in British politics since the inception of the European Economic Community (EEC), the predecessor to the EU”, concludes a Wikipedia contribution, which reflects the emotional and often – in either way – dogmatic nature of the debate in the most skeptic members of the Union. The EU appears to have become a welcome recession scapegoat.
But what is the European Union anyway. Rather than an alien construct imposed on the member states, it still is the agreed structure set up by its member states (for the good or bad, that is). The following series of maps gives a brief introduction into some of the key figures that shape the countries that are part of the EU and who are about the meet for negotiations on how to fund the European Union for the rest of the decade – having crucial implications on the role and purpose of the project. All maps shown here are cartograms based on national-level statistics. The first map is a population cartogram of the member states showing where how many people live (a more detailed perspective gives this gridded population cartogram of the EU):

Cartogram / Map of the population of the European Union
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Shifting Economies in the European Union

The European economic crisis has been part of some previous maps shown on this website. So far, all of these maps on Europe’s debt were based on national-level data which do not show the full picture of the economic structure of the European countries. A couple of weeks ago EUROSTAT published some more detailed economic data for the GDP output on NUTS 2 level, which allows to understand the subnational variation of economic output. The data only covers data ranging from 1997 to 2008 (so far), but it is the most detailed coherent picture of the shifting economic powers within the EU27 countries in over a decade and draws the picture of the European Union sliding into the global economic crisis.
I looked at the data in a series of maps that view the economic shape of the European Union from different perspectives. The first map displays the GDP distribution in the first year of the financial crisis (2008) and the NUTS2-areas are redrawn according to their total GDP output in that year. The colours indicate the GDP growth rate in that year, showing how well many parts still dealt with the approaching crisis, and as if the crisis followed a geographical path from its US origins, the UK and Irish economies were the first to be severely hit in their economic growth in the year of the Lehman collapse. Only Sweden shows a similar bleak picture, but on a much lower level. It is interesting to see that the initially collapsing banking sector in London is not only affecting the GDP development in the Southeast of the UK, but basically pulls the whole national economy into a downturn:

Map of the 2008 EU GDP on regional level in 2008 (with growth rates)

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In Focus: Government Debt

Political InsightA map showing the Europe’s government debt is now featured in the “In Focus” section of Political Insight journal (December 2010, Volume 1, Issue 3). The accompanying article written by Danny Dorling and me explains why the UK’s deficit is particularly high.

Here are the bibliographic details:
EU Government Debt 2010 Thumbnail image

  • Dorling, D. and Hennig, B. D. (2010). In Focus: Government Debt. Political Insight1 (3): 106.
    Article online (Wiley)

More debt maps can be found here.

The content on this page has been created by Benjamin D. Hennig. You are free use the material under Creative Commons conditions (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0); please contact me for further details. I also appreciate a message if you used my maps somewhere else. High resolution and customized maps are available on request.

Mapping global increase of wealth

Some recent maps on this website were closely related to the direct or indirect implications that the global downturn had on people’s lives across the globe: Be it the slowed-down but still growing carbon emissions, the poor state of well-being seen from a more sustainable point of view, or the distribution of wealth.
How this all related to each other has recently been commented by Peter Victor in Nature, who argues that “our global economy must operate within planetary limits to promote stability, resilience and wellbeing, not rising GDP” (Questioning economic growth, Nature 468: 370–371).
The previously published GDP map on the global distribution of GDP for 2010 and 2015 gives a good indication how little the distribution of global wealth has changed, and where the nations of the world are that may reconsider their attitude towards further growth. The map is less useful to see the dimension of changes and to see how little things have changed so far: The rich countries getting richer and the poor countries trying to catch up with these developments – and still, rising levels of global inequalities and further socio-economic disparities. This is shown in the following map, which displays the absolute growth derived from the GDP estimates for 2010 and 2015. The map thus shows the countries resized to the total growth that is expected for all countries in the given timespan and gives a clear picture of where the growth is largest (apparently, G20 countries dominate much of this cartogram. The colour key for the countries adds another dimension by showing the rate of growth reached 2015 compared to the level of 2010, an indicator that shows the most dynamic economies in the years to come – and those which kept on producing more carbon emissions despite the recession:

Map of global GDP growth 2010-2015
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