High Tea Held to Open Newly Renovated LISD Suite and Map Room

The Liechtenstein Institute on Self-Determination at Princeton University hosted a High Tea and Open House to celebrate the start of the spring semester and LISD's newly renovated suite of offices on February 8, 2018.

Speaking in a newly constructed Map Room—soon to be a "Geo Lab" (geopolitical laboratory)—Institute Director and Founder Wolfgang Danspeckgruber welcomed students and faculty, as well as special guest and Visiting Fellow Ambassador Dr. Hans-Ulrich Seidt, who most recently served as the Federal Republic of Germany’s Inspector General, to LISD. Most recently, Amb. Dr. Seidt was the Federal Republic of Germany’s Inspector General, and he has also held a number of significant diplomatic postings, including Ambassador to South Korea and Afghanistan. Especially in view of his work on state building in Afghanistan, and his studies of geopolitics in that region, Dr. Seidt has been working with LISD since the Institute’s inception in 2000. During his month-long stay at LISD, Amb. Dr. Seidt is scheduled to give several high-profile talks including one on geopolitics, borders and mapping on Thursday, March 1, which will also demonstrate some of the capabilities of the new LISD map room.

The Map Room facility, located on the north end of Bendheim Hall ground floor, has been moved within the LISD office suite and had undergone a significant expansion. Capable of housing more than 500 maps, globes, and major mountings on the wall and map table, the room will soon become, in Danspeckgruber’s word and vision, "home to the Li3d Geo Lab, or the Liechtenstein Institute’s Inter-Generational Initiative on Digital Intelligence Geopolitical Laboratory." Its objective is to merge the latest data, computing, and optical possibilities with traditional high quality mapping and geographical technologies.

In its first phase, the Geo Lab will be equipped with various new instruments, including cameras and other tools to visualize maps, and a multifunctional map table. This will eventually enable images, maps, and data to be simultaneously computed and projected on screens, as well as to eventually be made available in real time onto the screens of portable devices possessed by visitors in the room. This should permit the dynamic projection of data information combined with traditional topography and geographical information. Much of the room’s capabilities were envisioned by Danspeckgruber, drawing on his various experiences in situation rooms, disaster relief organizations, and the armed forces in many countries.

Prof. Danspeckgruber expressed his gratitude to the administration of the Woodrow Wilson School for their strong support throughout the renovation of LISD’s office spaces, and also to all those who created this physical space. In outlining further phases for the Geo Lab, he insisted that the quality of the Lab will only be as good as all those who will work with it, contributing their ideas and suggestions. He further noted that he looks forward to inaugurating the lab in the near future, anticipating that it will be a dynamic learning space which might innovate the teaching and study of geography and geopolitics, particularly as it affects information analysis during crisis response and management.

As Danspeckgruber posited in his welcome address, when it comes to self-determination, geography matters, and accurate information can radically change the debate. He further encouraged undergraduate and graduate students who are interested in the areas LISD works on to join and participate, emphasizing that educating students to be effective future leaders is at the core of the Institute’s mission.