On Writing the IR Dissertation

Partly in response to Steve Saideman’s post today with advice on dissertation topics, and partly also in response to a pretty enthusiastic discussion of advice to graduate students on Twitter yesterday, I thought I’d write a few things about getting started on the path of researching a dissertation in a field as unwieldy (and a job market as uncertain) as IR.

Here is where my perspective comes from. I finished my dissertation in 2016 and got a job. I am preparing to have a publishable version of the book emerging from the dissertation ready to market to publishers in the next few months. I teach in a department that has a bachelor’s degree in political science, so I do not have graduate students of my own. So—my perspective comes as someone for whom the job market and dissertation process is fresh and who is still working with the research question I started with in 2013 (oh dear—time flies!).

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Beware of Irrelevant Topic? Advising Phd Students to Surf the Wave

In the past couple of days, an academic issue has played out on twitter: are advisers doing a disservice to students and to the creation of knowledge by warning them off of topics that are deemed less relevant, less in the moment?  Damned if I know.

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The Return of Geopolitics

Geopolitics has returned with a vengeance. The end of the Cold War wrought a moment in which there was no credible alternative to liberal democratic capitalism. Russia was seemingly fatally weakened, and China was not yet the economic powerhouse it would become.

By the late 2000’s, Russia, with power and resources concentrated  in the hands of Vladimir Putin, was newly assertive in its near abroad and attempted to restore its authority over Georgia and Ukraine. It would seek influence over events further afield by supporting the Assad regime in Syria and through vigorous efforts to destabilize elections in the United States and elsewhere.

For its part, China finally asserted suspected regional ambitions and began robust efforts to build physical infrastructure on contested islands in the South China Sea. Together,these moves suggested a return of great power politics and that the play for global convergence to liberal democratic capitalism had not succeeded. With China, there was now a plausible competitor in authoritarian capitalism.

This is the scene captured in Tom Wright’s important 2017 bookAll Measures Short of War. Wright, now of the Brookings Institution, attempts to explain why American policymakers embraced and failed with convergence and what to do about it.

In a reviews exchange in the journal International Politics Reviews, Kori Schake, Chris Preble, and Nuno Monteiro weigh in on Wright’s book. Wright responds in turn. It’s a terrific exchange. Here are the key take-aways, but give them a read yourself. (BTW, I’m an associate editor at IPR so if you have a book and would like to be part of an exchange, let me know). Continue reading

Turning the Lights Out on American Leadership

What a time to be alive. By some accounts, we are witnessing a power transition between the United States and China, with the United States voluntarily relinquishing its claim of global leadership despite having a sizable advantage in hard power over all of its rivals.

Evan Osnos, who spent many years in China writing for the New Yorker, has a provocative piece that sums up his view of Trump’s foreign policy one year in, “Making China Great Again.”

The Chinese, he writes, have a clear-eyed assessment of what the Trump administration has become:

After the summit, the Pangoal Institution, a Beijing think tank, published an analysis of the Trump Administration, describing it as a den of warring “cliques,” the most influential of which was the “Trump family clan.” The Trump clan appears to “directly influence final decisions” on business and diplomacy in a way that “has rarely been seen in the political history of the United States,” the analyst wrote. He summed it up using an obscure phrase from feudal China: jiatianxia—“to treat the state as your possession.”

The Trump administration’s withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership gives China an opportunity to define trade rules in the Asia Pacific. The intended withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement allows China to reap diplomatic kudos by staying in. These moves among others are gifting China an opening to exercise greater influence than ever before. Continue reading

Size Doesn’t Matter

Any woman would tell you that. What matters is what you do with it and whether you know how to use it. Whatever Brobdingnagian thing you’ve got going on there, it’s way more important to have a game plan and understand the sweet spots you need to target. Otherwise, both parties may come away less than satisfied from the encounter.

I am talking, of course, about the nuclear arsenal size and the ever-lasting dick-measuring contest that is international politics. After the ridiculous Trump tweet that Kim John Un’s nuclear button is smaller and less powerful than that of #45, IR Twitter was quick to point out Carol Cohn’s seminal “Sex and Death in the Rational World of Defense Intellectuals” article that discussed exactly that. That the world of arms race is essentially a world of phallic worship and missile envy, replete with “penetration aids”, “thrust capabilities” and “vertical erector launchers”.  Who knew that a presidential candidate who mentions the size of his penis during a primary debate would actually bring it up during an international nuclear stand-off?!

Another piece that comes to (my) mind is the book by Stephen Ducat “The Wimp Factor: Gender Gaps, Holy Wars, and the Politics of Anxious Masculinity”. As he observed, the ‘wimp factor’, i.e., the possibility of coming off as too feminine in politics is a major fear in many cultures, spanning from ancient Greece to modern United States. In a culture with a generalized ethos that equates penetration with domination, political hierarchy is often built along the same lines that glorifies ‘real men’ ‘with balls’ hence denigrating femininity and non-cis-gendered males and females. The wimp factor is especially relevant for global politics built on notions of hierarchy, and is often expressed in terms of gender, which favors the male, dominant position.

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The top 5 issues in International Politics for 2018

2017 was not a great year for international politics. The sentence I heard the most during conferences and other academic gatherings was that “the global order is in crisis.” Granted. It all started in 2016 with the victory of Trump, Brexit and the No to the Peace Agreement in Colombia. Nationalist ideologies have nothing but grown in 2017, when the victories of Marine Le Pen in France and of Geert Wilders in the Netherlands all of a sudden seemed plausible. Luckily, they did not materialise. We also had auto-proclaimed nations that demanded independence, such as Catalonia or Kurdistan. To top it all, the far right did win elections in Hungary, Austria and the Czech Republic. This nationalist move is having consequences across the world. In the Libyan costs migrants are being sold as slaves by smugglers or are locked up in hangars with no access to the most basic needs, after the European Union’s enactment of its policy of helping Libyan authorities intercept people trying to cross the Mediterranean and return them to prison. Continue reading

Happy New Year

If anybody is planning to collude with some Russians for New Year’s (but not in order to swing an election), I compiled a brief checklist. Originally, I wanted to take apart an article from a prestigious newspaper that described “a Christmas encounter with a Russian soul”, but then I decided against it. After all, if you don’t buy “the case for colonialism”, then you probably also won’t think that “Russians do not share the ethical heritage of the West, but moral intuition exists everywhere, and is able to be inspired”. But enough with the narcissistic white bigotry, let’s learn about Russia!
  • In good ol’ orientalist tradition let’s start with drinking. No self-respecting Russian ever says “na zdorovie” while toasting. Ever. You drink for something – “za”.  Want to impress some Russians, say either “vashe zdorovie” or “budem!” – both are correct equivalents to “Cheers”.
  • Another important thing, New Year is THE winter holiday in Russia. Not Christmas. You prepare for it in advance, buy presents, decorate a tree, have a massive meal and get together with the family. Atheist Soviet traditions have stuck pretty well and the reflex of cutting an Olivier salad on December 31st is hard to suppress.
  • What the hell is an Olivier salad I anticipate you’d ask. It’s a Russian New Year staple food that originally included hazel grouse, crayfish, and a bunch of other expensive ingredients concocted by a French chef in mid 19th century, but gradually became a potato, pea and mayonnaise based delight that you enjoy by the ton.
  • So what about Christmas (you might wonder)? Most Russians celebrate Christmas (if they do) on January 7th thanks to the power squabbles with the Catholic Church back in the Middle Ages. While after the Revolution Russia moved almost two weeks ahead (hence the Great October Revolution celebration on November 7th), the Russian Orthodox Church stayed behind and insists on celebrating all Christian holidays based on the Julian calendar. Some even celebrate Old New Year on January 13th!
  • Also, Christmas trees. Again, in a post-Soviet mind – a fir tree is a totally secular New Year tradition that has nothing to do with Christmas. To be fair, they have much more to do with Saturnalia than with Christmas anyway. You know how in America people make fun of those who take down their Christmas lights in February? Try keeping your tree until March!  
  • Last but not least. Russians also have a type of Santa – his name is Father Frost (Ded Moroz), he brings presents, rides a sleigh and he is assisted by his granddaughter Snowmaiden (Snegurochka). Despite his somewhat dubious origin story and unclear family tree (where is his wife? Or Children?!), his is still a far cry from the controversy caused every year by Zwarte Piet in the Netherlands.

I am off to cut the Oliver and obsessively check the statuses of submitted manuscripts. Remember, despite the condescending orientalist horse crap that you might read in the Wall Street Journal, Russians are like everybody else. They just want acceptance with minor revisions.

Happy New Year!

UFOs and the Hyperreal

On Saturday, the New York Times ran an investigative story that revealed a few significant facts about the US’s programs to study UFOs. There were some interesting findings in the article (and citations/paraphrases below are from the article, which can be found here):

  • A 22 million dollar program called “Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification” was operated at DoD from 2007 to 2012—and, in fact, the program continues today without an official budget.
  • The program produced documentary evidence of spacecraft hovering with no sign of propulsion.
  • A contracted company, Bigelow Aerospace, was given large sums of money to help operate this program, which included the maintenance of a storage facility in Las Vegas for unidentified metal alloys related to UFO events.
  • A Pentagon briefing summary from 2009 stated that “what was once considered science fiction is now scientific fact,” and argued that the US government would have great difficulty in securing itself against some of the technology the program had discovered.

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Us Too


We knew it was coming and here it is. An open source spreadsheet designed by The Professor Is In blog’s Karen L. Kelsky for the purpose of collecting up stories of sexual harassment, abuse,  and plain old taking advantage from within the Academy in the wake of the #MeToo movement.

“I am not surprised at the number. I am surprised at the severity of many of the stories. I expected more quid pro quo or handsy passes made after drinking at an open bar at a conference. I didn’t expect as many stories of rape and stalking and abuse.” (Kelsky)

Unlimited to the discipline of International Relations (IR), we know that stories shared here – and countless like them – derive from inside our Departments, Schools, and conferences. As an extremely male dominated and masculinised discipline, feminist and queer IR have been telling us for years about the profound effects such a gender imbalance has. On not only how women and femininity are treated and so often marginalised but on how such patriarchy has detrimentally produced IR’s traditional and  primary units of analysis  – man, the state, and war – in the very image of their very particular (male, white, cis etc) authors.

Speaking to the extent of the ‘scourge‘ (as Kelsky puts it), as a recently graduated, female, IR PhD working (happily) in the discipline, I count myself lucky for making it this far without having accumulated much to add to the spreadsheet’s 1,600 (and counting) entries. However, if I’m honest there are probably things that I could/should say. The women coming forward to share their stories – even anonymously – are braver than I.

Of course, in Higher Education, the lines between work/personal life and teacher/student become blurred (and these blurrings are some of what make academia and University life good). Of course, there is a difference between rape and mis-judged flirting or an extra-marital affair. However, consent is complicated and the extreme power imbalance between parties involved make the stakes high and skew the consequences in favour of the most often older, most often senior, most often male participant in even seemingly ‘harmless’ interactions.  Just read the spreadsheet to see for yourself. After doing so I’m thinking now is surely the time for us to re-draw the lines and bring to account the ones so far un-named who went too far (we/you know who you are).

President Trump, You’re No George Carlin

The Trump Administration has decided it’s finally time for it to whip out its best George Carlin impression. It’s announced its own list of seven words you can never say—at least not if you are working for the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention.

In 1972, “Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television” was the last track on his stand-up album, Class Clown. In an interview with Terry Gross in 2004, Carlin explained that the routine was all about calling out hypocrisy and double-standards. There is nothing inherently bad about these words, and keeping them off of the airwaves ignores the context in which they may be used. A later version of this routine even led to a1978 Supreme Court case, Federal Communications Commission v. Pacifica Foundation.

Fast forward 45 years, and the Department of Health and Human Services has apparently announced its own Seven Words You Can Not Include in Documents Prepared for Next Year’s Budget. It doesn’t quite roll of the tongue, and it feels a bit Peppy Bismilk, but its potential effects on science and health policy could be dramatic.

First things first, let’s get the words themselves out in the open. According to Trump’s HHS, the following words are now verboten in CDC budget documents:

  • Vulnerable
  • Entitlement
  • Diversity
  • Transgender
  • Fetus
  • Evidence-based
  • Science-based

Yeah. For real.

According to attendees at the meeting where this policy was announced, the presenter said she was merely relaying information and could not speak to why these words were banned. This appears, though, to be in line with other efforts by the administration to remove certain words and phrases from official documents, such as efforts to scrub information about global warming from the EPA’s website.

Why would the Trump Administration want to keep these words out of official budget documents? From scientific and research perspectives, there is absolutely no reason to do so.

Instead, we have to think about the various purposes that budgets serve. At the most concrete level, budgets tell us how we are going to spend money. The administration is expected to release its budget in February. While no president’s budget is automatically adopted, it can serve as a blueprint for guiding Congress’ efforts to craft a spending plan.

Go a bit deeper, though, and we can start to get a sense of what is driving the Trump Administration. More than just a spending plan, budgets are reflections of our values. This applies if we are talking about households or about national governments. By keeping these words out of budget documents, the administration is not only signalling its research priorities, but also who and what it values.

What does this decision say about the Trump Administration’s health and research values? First, it says that this administration has little interest in understanding or addressing the social determinants of health. When we take the social determinants of health seriously, we recognize that social, economic, and political systems don’t treat everyone equally—and that that inequality has very real consequences for whether a person can lead a healthy life. If you look at the CDC’s current website (quick, hurry before it’s taken down!), there is a section devoted to looking at how and why transgender people have higher rates of HIV infection. It’s not about a trans person’s biology; it’s about issues of stigma, discrimination, and lack of access to care. It’s about social vulnerabilities—oops, there’s a word we can no longer use.

Second, it suggests the administration may be pulling back from the US’ historical global health commitments. The US government supplies roughly one-third of all development assistance for health. It has been a leader in shaping the norms around the importance of supporting global health as a sign of good international citizenship (and if you’re looking for more on that, have I got a book for you! Makes a great Valentine’s Day present!). Part of what that funding has done, though, is support the scientific research to produce the evidence necessary for us to know how to address thorny and difficult global health issues. If we don’t base our policies on evidence and science, we end up with polices that reflect individual biases—things like wasting $1.4 billion on abstinence education programs in Africa even though there is no evidence that they reduce the risk of contracting HIV (and may actually increase it). This is already a problem for US-supported global health programs. Banning science-based and evidence-based will only make the problem that much worse.

Third, it could be another arena in which conservative domestic (and international) politics are taking precedence over improving people’s health. The CDC and other agencies within the United States government have mobilized in an effort to understand the connection between the Zika outbreak in South America and the increase in rates of microcephaly. Scientists don’t understand how or why this connection exists, especially since it hasn’t appeared in other areas where Zika has spread. To understand that, we need to do research on the effects of the Zika virus on pregnant women and their fetuses. The CDC found a definitive link between Zika and microcephaly in 2016, but it will apparently no longer be able to conduct that research. We don’t know why, but it’s possible that it could have something to do with issues surrounding access to birth control and abortion services in Latin America. In many of the countries where microcephaly rates have skyrocketed due to Zika, birth control and abortion are incredibly difficult to obtain. Perhaps this is an effort to appease conservative values—if there’s no research on Zika’s effects on fetuses, there will be fewer calls for changing reproductive laws in the region.

George Carlin used his seven words as part of an effort to encourage free expression and think about the problems arbitrarily limiting speech. The Trump Administration’s seven words will do the opposite. If these are the choices, I’ll take a few curse words any day.

 

Nothing Compares to You

For Russia watchers Christmas always comes early (or Hanukkah comes right on time!) when Putin gives his annual presser in mid-December to the journalists from Russia and around the world. This year was no exception, and Putin provided an almost 4-hour spectacle of economic indicator juggling, question evading and what looked like battling the flu. Even devoted supporters noticed that Putin was not on top of his game that day. He had to constantly clear the throat and looked like he had fever.

There was something for everyone. Putin came out against abortion ban and spun a conspiracy theory about the Olympic doping scandal. Accused the US of North Korean missile program development and encouraged rotation of governmental cadres. Explained the rationale behind a possible retirement age increase and advised the head of Rosneft Sechin to show up to court when he is subpoenaed. Many bloggers and mass media outlets have devised several versions of Putin Presser bingo, because every year there seems to be the same number of shticks that come up. These include drinking from a cup with a lid, making a joke – this year a particularly crass one, – providing reassuring mumbo-jumbo about Russian economic growth and an expected tough question from a Ukrainian journalist.

Let’s start with the last one. Questions from UNIAN journalist Tsymbayuk are a rare aberration from the mainstream discourse on the Ukraine crisis in Russia (this time they were met with boos and “provocation” outcries). He asked whether Putin was planning to exchange prisoners of war and reminded that Russia and Ukraine were not one country. Putin had a long comeback arguing that the accent-free Russian of the journalist was already a sign that the countries occupied the same mental space. After that followed quite a long history lesson riddled some historical inaccuracies and an emphasis on the same Christian foundation of the two countries that make up one nation. Later, Putin also quipped about the scandal provoked by the former Georgian President and ex Odessa governor Saakashvili, who is allegedly “spitting in the faces of Ukrainians and Georgians”. Putin even wondered whether there were “real Ukrainians” available in the country. Oh, snap. A lot of Russians don’t believe Ukraine deserves to be a state in the first place…

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Challenges to the Contemporary World Order

A guest post by Thomas Pepinsky, is Associate Professor of Government at Cornell University and Stefanie Walter,  Full Professor for International Relations and Political Economy at the Department of Political Science at the University of Zurich.

Many observers of contemporary global politics conclude that the present moment represents one of the most unsettled times in global politics since the fall of the Berlin Wall. Shock events such as the Brexit vote, the continued success of radical right populists in continental Europe, the continuing Eurozone crisis, and the unprecedented foreign relations of the Trump presidency all point to a global liberal order under stress. Scholars of comparative and international politics and political economy are now asking questions that would have seemed far-fetched only years ago: how durable is liberal internationalism and the North Atlantic alliance? Will mercantilism replace neoliberalism? Can central bank and supranational economic institutions perform the functions required of them?  Continue reading

ICAN’s Road to the Nobel Peace Prize

This is a guest post from Rebecca Gibbons, a Visiting Assistant Professor at Bowdoin College. 

On Sunday, December 10, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) will accept the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize for calling attention to the “catastrophic humanitarian consequences” of nuclear use and for promoting the recently adopted Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

This movement grew out of great frustration with a lack of progress on nuclear disarmament through traditional channels such as the 1970 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) or the Geneva-based Conference on Disarmament. After nuclear weapons possessors in the NPT failed in 2005 to re-commit to disarmament promises they had agreed to previously, a leader from the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War—itself a Nobel Peace Prize winner—sought to found a new umbrella organization devoted to developing a convention against nuclear weapons. He envisioned an international campaign that would operate similar to the one that had banned landmines and suggested calling this new organization the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons with the acronym ICAN. ICAN began in Australia in 2006 and was launched internationally in 2007. In a decade’s time, this group succeeded in pushing forward a multilateral treaty banning nuclear weapons and winning a Nobel Peace Prize. In my research on ICAN, I have identified five reasons for this movement’s success in achieving a nuclear prohibition treaty earlier this year. Continue reading

Look What You Made Me Do

Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the sovereignest of them all? Asked no head of state — ever. And yet, the Russian Parliament is in the process of devising a document, which assesses levels of sovereignty among the G20, and devises punishments for countries or individuals who infringe on state sovereignty. I have to admit, it fits well with the ISQ’s new online symposium on International Systems in World History. Hierarchy, international system, definition of state, coercion – it’s all there! Russian Parliament does not reflect on the Eurocentrism of their concepts though…

The Interim Commission of the Federation Council for the Protection of State Sovereignty has prepared a plan for an annual report on interference in Russia’s internal affairs (securitization alert!). Apparently, the West is stimulating interethnic and interreligious protests in Russia by way of turning the Russian youth “into an instrument of loosening up of national political systems, implementing scenarios of  “color revolutions”, coups d’état, and social destabilisation.” So, if we track the empirical application of Butcher and Griffiths’ article,  there is in fact a clear delineation between domestic and foreign politics. The foreign part comes in with the “monitoring of the interference of foreign states and international organizations in the political, economic, cultural and humanitarian spheres of activity in Russia”. Especially worrisome for Russian lawmakers is the expected interference with Russia’s presidential election in spring 2018. See, Russia does care about election meddling! Just not the American one.

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Mugabe: The Musical!

Picture the scene: throngs of people gathering as the night descends. They are looking up at the building across the way—patiently, expectantly. There is a low-hum of voices. Gradually, the voices converge and they begin singing the same song…

“Mu-ga-be! Mu-ga-be!”

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Philosophy of Law and the Decline of War

This is a guest post from Simon Cotton, Australian National University, where he is a Visitor in Philosophy, and the University of New South Wales, Canberra, where he teaches in Humanities and Social Sciences.

Much of the commentary on Oona Hathaway and Scott Shapiro’s recent book, The Internationalists, including at Duck of Minerva, has focused on the empirical basis for their controversial thesis. Hathaway and Shapiro do not just claim that much of the decline in major interstate war that we have seen since the Second World War is down to mere reformulation of black-letter law, but that the 1928 Kellogg-Briand Pact of 1928, which appeared an embarrassment in its immediate aftermath, was pivotal to this transformation.

It is unsurprising, then, that political scientists have taken issue with their claim. In contrast, The Internationalists’ philosophical presuppositions have attracted less attention. This is a pity, because this work represents an invaluable opportunity to demonstrate the practical relevance of philosophy of law, an area that hard-headed social scientists are apt to dismiss. Continue reading

Trump and Nuclear Deterrence: Dancing on the Edge of a Cliff

Quick takes on the recent escalation of the North Korea nuclear crisis have highlighted how administration strategy has the potential for a negative effect on the outcomes of the conflict (see: here for example). However, I’d like to work through the role that social media—as a primary mechanism the administration has used to signal intentions—plays in the escalation/de-escalation of a nuclear crisis like this one.

I argue that Trump’s tweets are not only bad optics and potentially inflammatory, but that if we return to thinking about classic deterrence theory, it has the potential of failing to deter war. A scary possibility, especially considering that some have argued North Korea may have rational incentives to use nuclear weapons first.

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The Politics of Research on Trauma – A Gendered Perspective

The following is a guest post by Ayelet Harel-Shalev and Shir Daphna-Tekoah.  

Ayelet Harel-Shalev is a Senior Lecturer at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. Her academic interests include Feminist IR; Women Combatants; Ethnic Conflicts and Democracy; Minority Rights; and Women and Politics. @harelayelet  ayeleths@bgu.ac.il

Shir Daphna-Tekoah is a Senior Lecturer at Ashkelon Academic College, and Kaplan Medical Center.  Her academic interests include Gender, Health and Violence; Women Combatants; Child Abuse and Neglect; Dissociation and Trauma. shir.dt@gmail.com

In the era of the #MeToo campaign, we call for critical thinking about trauma and suggest engagement with a variety of women’s narratives of trauma. We take our cue from Cynthia Enloe’s advice to scholars to seek questions that are thus far unidentified in International Relations and Political Science. In these spaces of query and in these silences,  she notes, one will often find politics.

When one evaluates the history of Trauma Studies, it becomes evident that this field of study was triggered by wars, combat, and their attendant political developments. The study of trauma started by examining the exposure of men to combat experiences. The resulting body of work was subsequently complemented by studies of the trauma of women and children as abused victims. Current knowledge about trauma, therefore, stems from studies on combat men and victim women.

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2018 Duckies

This is a guest post from Laura Seay, among other things chair of the Online Media Caucus for ISA.

It’s Duckies time! ISA 2018 is right around the corner.

The Online Achievement in International Studies Reception and Awarding of the Duckies will take place on Friday, April 6 at 7:30pm.  We’ll feature three speakers in the ever-popular Ignite series and enjoy honoring our winners together.  The ISA Online Media Caucus (OMC) appreciates the generous support of SAGE Publishing in sponsoring the awards.

Now is the time to submit your nominations for the 2018 Duckies.  Send your nominations to onlinemediacaucus@gmail.com by December 15, 2017.  We award Duckies in the following categories:

Best Blog (Group) in International Studies

Best Blog (Individual) in International Studies

Best Blog Post in International Studies

Best Twitter Account

Special Achievement in International Studies Online Media

As is our custom, these awards go to English-language international studies blogs and bloggers whose online output has significant scholarly content.  Award nominees or their designated representatives MUST be present at the Duckies.

Once the nominations deadline has passed, the Online Media Caucus will judge the nominations and determine finalists for public voting.  Self-nominations are encouraged. If you have any questions, please contact 2017-18 Online Media Caucus Chair Laura Seay.

Charli’s Village: A Call to Arms

This is a tough post to write. In October, Charli was hospitalized for severe abdominal pain. Surgery revealed a large mass, and Charli was diagnosed with Burkitt’s Lymphoma—a systemic cancer of the immune system. This is a rare cancer, but fortunately it is highly treatable (doctors say the cancer is responding well) and Charli has access to some of the best doctors in the world in Boston. But, the treatment is brutal: an intensive, six month course of chemotherapy. Charli is soldiering on, dealing with the anticipated (the hair!) and unanticipated challenges of cancer diagnosis and treatment with the indomitable spirit we all know.

Like me, I’m sure your response to this news is, how can I help? Charli has an amazing community supporting her on a day-to-day basis, but she needs our help to deal with the financial elephant in the room. Cancer treatment is expensive, and Charli’s insurance doesn’t cover the whole bill. Her family has set up a fundraising site to help defray these substantial medical costs.  I hope the Duck community will join all of here at the blog in supporting Charli as she beats down this cancer. Together, we can help to ensure her story is one in which she lives happily ever after.

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