Josh Busby

Joshua Busby is an Associate Professor in the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas-Austin. He is the author of Moral Movements and Foreign Policy (Cambridge, 2010) and the co-author, with Ethan Kapstein, of AIDS Drugs for All: Social Movements and Market Transformations (Cambridge, 2013). His main research interests include transnational advocacy and social movements, international security and climate change, global public health and HIV/ AIDS, energy and environmental policy, and U.S. foreign policy. He also tends to blog about global wildlife conservation.

Rhetorical Entrapment and Syria: Let’s Not Do Dumb Stuff

I’m on team Dan on the question of not freaking out over Syria. I don’t think Jeff’s assessment on this blog reflects the reality which is one of Russian weakness, nor am I convinced, per Seth’s conjecture, that the Obama administration had some master plan to lure the Russians in to Syria.  Russia’s moves in to Syria suggest real fear that their long time client state could fail. By one estimate, the Syrian army  has been reduced by 2/3 to less than 100,000, and as Dominic Tierney points out in The Atlantic,  Assad may control only a 1/5 of Syria.

I also agree with a number of folks like Dan Drezner and Andrew Kydd that this is likely to be a quagmire for Russia.  As Brookings’ Jeremy Shapiro points out, nobody, least of all Republicans, appears to have an alternative approach to what the Obama administration is doing:

The truth is that everybody’s critical of the Obama policy in Syria, and nobody has a better alternative. I’ve never fucking heard one. And if you heard something that even resembles a good idea on Syria in the Republican debate I would eat my head.

That said, in terms of the administration, even former Obama officials such as Phil Gordon acknowledge that a new approach is needed:

There is now virtually no chance that an opposition military “victory” will lead to stable or peaceful governance in Syria in the foreseeable future and near certainty that pursuing one will only lead to many more years of vicious civil war. Stopping the conflict will require all the regional powers that are currently fueling it—including Russia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and the United States—to come to terms with the reality that their maximalist objectives cannot be achieved, and that the result of trying to achieve them will mean only more misery and conflict throughout the region—at high cost to them all.

The problem is that the Obama Administration has painted itself in to a corner by saying that Assad must go. This is what Frank Schimmelfennig once called  “rhetorical entrapment” which allows opponents of the administration to take advantage of the administration’s failure to keep pledges about “red lines” by imposing political or what Kelly Greenhill calls, “hypocrisy costs.” The Republicans don’t necessarily wan’t to do anything different on Syria; they just want to exact a pound of flesh to make the administration look weak (as polling suggests, the American people are not all enthusiastic about a more robust role in Syria beyond bombing the s–t out of ISIS). Continue reading


Habebamus papam!

This is a guest post from Nathan Paxton, Professorial Lecturer in the School of International Service at American University and a 2015-2016 APSA Congressional Fellow.

Now that Pope Francis has jetted back to the Vatican on “Shepherd One”, we have the chance to talk about the theoretical underpinnings of the pope’s international politics. I hope you’re as excited to have a political theory discussion as I am. Primarily, I want to discuss what I think the papal view of politics is, how it fits in with liberation theology, and what that means to those of us who care about international and comparative politics.

Philosophical foundations

Pope Francis’s message to Congress was shot through with the idea that politics can at its best be a means for the flourishing of each individual human person. That flourishing is the end of human community, and the goal of all human society should be to maximize the common good. Importantly, however, politics is a mean, not an end per se.

Politics is, instead, an expression of our compelling need to live as one, in order to build as one the greatest common good: that of a community which sacrifices particular interests in order to share, in justice and peace, its goods, its interests, its social life. (Address to Congress)

The emphasis on community and personalism is one of the best indicators that we have that the pope is not a liberal, either in the classic political theory sense nor in the impoverished contemporary American political discourse sense. He’s a pre-Burkean conservative, in that his emphasis is on the traditional, the communal, and what historian Brian Porter-Szücs calls “harmonious social relations.” Because “classic liberalism” promotes both individual liberty and free-market capitalism, it is an atomizing force, prizing and exalting the individual above the ensconcing community and so providing the basis for eventually breaking down that community as every individual pursues what seems to them their own good. Continue reading

Will 2016 Be a Foreign Policy Election?

The Third Way project, a centrist Democratic policy outfit, has just released an interesting survey on public attitudes going in to the 2016 election.  They make two arguments that I think are worth exploring, (1)  the foreign policy advantage Democrats briefly enjoyed in the wake of the Iraq War has dissipated and (2) foreign policy may be more salient in this election than in the recent past.  My general take is that foreign policy, barring a crisis, isn’t a big driver of voter decisions in presidential elections. That said, it could be an important issue for a more significant segment of the electorate than in past elections. That could matter on the margins in a close election. I’ll come back to this at the end of this post.As for the partisan gap on national security, the folks at Third Way identified a paradox in their survey findings:

Most importantly, our survey revealed a paradox that may be at the heart of the Democratic Party’s national security problem. While voters overwhelmingly favored Republicans on national security, they viewed Democrats as much more like themselves on national security.

My wife Bethany Albertson just released a book with Shana Gadarian, Anxious Politics, which I think offers a ready explanation for the somewhat curious patterns observed in the survey. An emotionally anxious electorate will turn to the party that offers “protective policies” that they perceive will keep the country safe. If a particular party seems to own an issue area, they are able to generate support from folks who normally wouldn’t agree with them, even when the party’s preferences may be further from their own. Republicans in this case have had a traditional dominance on national security that deteriorated in the wake of the Iraq War but which has seen new life in the wake of the resurgence of ISIS.

Continue reading

Foreign Affairs Iran Deal Poll – Congrats You Have Nearly an All Male Panel

It looks like the Obama administration has secured 42 votes for the Iran deal in the Senate, enough to filibuster even a vote, and despite today’s machinations in the House, the Iran Deal will likely go through. Indeed, when Republicans agreed back in May to a review process that would require a super-majority in both chambers to overturn the deal, the die was already somewhat cast.  Still, I’m thrilled that supporters have been able to hold the line in the face of a multi-million dollar campaign against the agreement. In the final days, we’re seeing a surge in efforts to get views on the table from supporters and opponents.

In a stock-taking exercise, Foreign Affairs released the results ($) of a survey of a “broad pool of experts” about whether Congress should approve the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) or the Iran Deal for short. 32 of the 52 experts — 62% – answered  “strongly agree” in support of Iran Deal. Adding in the “agree,” support rises to 72%.

The virtue of this survey is that individual respondents are on the record about where they stand. For many of them, there is a bit of explanatory text about their reasons. As the graphic above shows, they are asked to rate their level of support on a 5-point Likert scale ranging from “strongly agree” to “strong disagree.” They were asked to provide their confidence in their assessment on a 10 point scale, which, as my collaborator Craig Kafura noted, showed an extraordinarily high level of confidence in their judgments.

The public stance of individual respondents is important. Other magazine elite surveys will reveal who was surveyed but not their answers to particular questions so you can’t create a dataset to examine crosstabs between salient demographic characteristics and survey answers. Even anonymized versions of answers are almost never provided so you can read the write-up but not much more; the recent release of the revised Chicago Council elite surveys in which I participated is an exception.

Still, some of the attributes of this particular survey raise important questions about representativeness and who is actually being surveyed. I took the liberty of coding all the respondents’ responses, their gender, citizenship (to the extent this was easy to find), and I made some preliminary efforts to code partisanship (a Google doc is here, and if useful, I could crowd-source the partisanship field).

Congrats – You Have an (Almost) All Male Panel

Only 3 of the 52 — roughly 6% — respondents are women (including former head of the Carnegie Endowment Jessica Mathews, European-based Iran analyst Ellie Geranmayeh, and CNAS’ Elizabeth Rosenberg). Now, I know that international security and nuclear policy are male-dominated areas, but there were some obvious omissions of women expert in this arena, Cheryl Rofer and Kori Schake for starters, who could have been surveyed. To be fair, Foreign Affairs might have asked them or other women to participate and just had to go to press with whoever responded. That said, some of my concerns about the pool go beyond gender and raise other questions about how to draw inferences from surveys of elites in general and samples of convenience in particular. [Addendum: Foreign Affairs reached out to comment that the low response rates among women accounts for the final tally. They wrote: “In fact, we asked nearly a dozen women to participate in that survey–mostly actual Iran experts, fwiw–but only three of them responded.” The wider survey included people with deep expertise in nonproliferation or Iran, with a few prominent general figures of authority.] Continue reading

Getting Your APSA Preconference On: The Politics of Markets

I just got out of a half-day APSA pre-conference short course on the politics of markets, firms, and interest groups organized by the sociologist Edward Walker and political scientist Patty Strach. Having attended Thad Dunning’s short course on natural experiments in the past, I think there is a lot to be said for alternative formats to the traditional panel of papers and discussants. This morning, 9 panelists each reflected on a common set of questions with two discussants, Ed and David Vogel, weighing in on our remarks.

Fellow panelists including a number of folks who study American politics and business interest groups (Alex Hertel-Fernandez, Benjamin Schneer, Leah Stokes), but we also had a healthy contingent of people who study the comparative politics of states and markets (Graham WilsonTasha Fairfield, Alison Post). Others are exploring the private politics of corporate social responsibility (Tim Werner). While most of us were political scientists, some had appointments in business schools (Tim Werner, Tricia Olsen). The organizers did a good job mixing people at different levels of seniority and disciplinary focus and methodological practices, though I might have been the only straight-up IR person of the bunch.

For what it is worth, I thought I’d share my remarks on transnational social movements and markets, which reflects my sense of the state of the literature and  important questions that should be asked going forward. These remarks are informed by my experience writing my previous book, AIDS Drugs for All,  with Ethan Kapstein on AIDS treatment advocacy and market transformations. Since that book came out in 2013, we’ve been been refining and distilling further our work on social movements and markets in a piece that is wending its way through the review process. Continue reading

So You Would Like a Job at a Policy School

So, in another installment on the job market front, I thought I’d weigh in with some thoughts on possible differences of job postings and hiring  processes at policy schools. Admittedly, this is an idiosyncratic take having just worked at one of them, but I think there may be some generalizable aspects from my own experience. I have also passed through two others as a post-doc. If my institution is any indication, policy schools tend to be heterogeneous interdisciplinary places which can make faculty coordination and hiring processes even more fraught than in a disciplinary department. So, here are some thoughts on what to look out for if you are aiming for a job at a policy school. Continue reading

Convincing Waverers to Support the Iran Deal

When the Iran Deal was announced and supported by the P5 of the UN Security Council, I would have thought that the tide of elite opinion among US lawmakers would break  in support of the Deal, possibly including some Republicans (maybe Jeff Flake?), possibly enough to filibuster a no vote in the Senate. Now, it comes down to whether President Obama has the votes in either the House or Senate to forestall a veto override of what will certainly be no votes by both chambers to the deal.

While it still seems likely that the president has the votes to prevent an override, possibly in both the Senate and the House (though he only needs one chamber), it is going to be closer than it should.  It is a shame that it has come to this. Even if the notion of partisanship stopping at the water’s edge was always something of a myth, we are so far away from anything that ever gave a shred of evidence to support it.

An agreement that is overwhelmingly supported in the rest of the world (save by the current Netanyahu government in Israel) will likely narrowly survive an attempt to override a presidential veto of Congressional disapproval. I’m wondering what messages and what messengers could conceivably convince the waverers (that is, Democrats in the House and Senate) to announce their support for the deal?

We’ve had prominent Democrats (including Jewish Democrats such as Al Franken and Bernie Sanders) come out in favor of the deal, though Senate Majority Leader in waiting Chuck Schumer, also Jewish, opposes the deal.  Who are the other influentials? What are they saying?

In this post, I’ll bring in some strong arguments and signals of support from prominent Republicans of yore (like Brent Scowcroft and former Senator John Warner), military leaders (including a tantalizing hint from David Petraeus, nuclear weapons experts such as Gary Samore, treasury Secretary Jack Lew, Israeli security officials, prominent members of Congress who have come out in support of the deal, and columnists such as Fareed Zakaria, Nick Kristof, and Tom Friedman. I am not convinced Republicans are open to persuasion so the notion that Obama’s rhetoric turned them off of potentially coming around is risible. Democrats on the other hand may need some more ammunition. Here goes. Continue reading

The collateral damage of performance metrics

This is a guest post from Daniel Mügge who is an associate professor of political science at the University of Amsterdam and the lead editor of the Review of International Political Economy.

In two recent posts, Cullen Hendrix, and Daniel Nexon and Patrick Thaddeus Jackson, have tabled important pros and cons of Google Scholar (GS) as a base for measuring of academic performance. And the flurry of reactions to their blogs reveal just how central and touchy and important an issue this is.

The debate so far concentrates on gauging the “quality” of an individual scholar, and how different approaches are fraught with biases. But when we weigh the merits and demerits of something like GS, there is another level that’s so far ignored: the collateral damage that managerial tools of quality control do to the academic enterprise as a whole. Continue reading

Open Foreign Policy Thread Tonight on GOP Debate

I will be live-tweeting the foreign policy dimensions of the GOP debate tonight here. Readers may want to chime in here on this open thread with the pre-, during, and post-debate reactions. It may be the silly season in the GOP primary, but with the Iran deal pending before Congress, these are consequential times. Yesterday, I live tweeted President Obama’s address on Iran and will be synthesizing my observations on the deal and the politics surrounding it in coming days.

Get your popcorn and laptop out tonight and stay tuned for the main attraction on your TV. BTW, as ever, I encourage civility on the thread so have at it but with respect to contrasting views. Thanks.

7:55pm CST. Almost go time. We’re ready. My wife who studies domestic politics is doing a two-fer and watched the earlier debate of second tier candidates. #gluttonforpunishment.

8:00 Awkward opener. Got going in a hurry. Look Twitter for constant updates…

A Storify post on Cecil the Lion

People who follow this blog know that I’m not jumping on the wildlife conservation bandwagon. I taught a course on global wildlife conservation and have blogged about it repeatedly here on the Duck.

So, here are my thoughts on Cecil the Lion, the lion killed by an American hunter in Zimbabwe, where I wade in to advocacy, sport hunting, the value of animal life compared to human life, why we have an emotional reaction to iconic wildlife but not animals we eat, Internet vigilantism, and more. These include a series of tweets and exchanges I had with others over the past several days. My main concern is that I hope some good can come from this in terms of wildlife conservation. Continue reading

7 Further Thoughts on Being A Better Job Market Candidate

Amanda in her inimitable style has written some very persuasive guidance about the job market. Let me add a few thoughts about what else you can do to prepare. If you’ve already been socialized to want an academic job, then you better be ready for a rough slog. Unless you happen to be among the  handful of students who get all the attention and plum interviews this job market season, you are likely to get a couple of interviews and at worst none at all. As Amanda said, most of this is out of your control. The job market sucks. There are thousands of people chasing too few jobs.

Imagine you are on the other side of the job application process and you receive several hundred applications for one job. The reality is that the committee will use some heuristics to sort through which applicants are likely to get the most attention. This may not be fair, but these criteria include (1) fit with the job  (2)  where the candidates went to school 3) who they studied with and (4) where they have published. You  have limited control over most of these, but you should be aware that this is a reality.

Still, there are some other things you can do to prepare for your dream job, and it’s never too early to think about how to position yourself to be an attractive candidate.

Continue reading

4 Things the US Can Do to Reinforce China’s Actions on Climate Change

Sarang Shidore and I have a new paper for the Paulson Institute on what the US can do to encourage China to do more on climate change (in English and Mandarin).  China recently reaffirmed its pledge to peak emissions around 2030 and to increase non-fossil energy to 20% by the same year. China also announced a new target to reduce CO2 emissions per unit of GDP (its carbon intensity) by 60 to 65 percent below 2005 levels. How can the US ensure that China sustains and even accelerates progress in this direction?

Our starting premise is that air pollution is a more salient issue in China than climate change and that the country is likely to take more heroic and costly measures to reduce the threat of air pollution for Chinese citizens than they are to contribute to the global public good of climate change mitigation. From this perspective, much of the discussion of using climate change to produce co-benefits for air pollution is misplaced. We need to ensure that air pollution policies create co-benefits for the climate. As we note, some actions, reducing the use of coal, will be beneficial for both air pollution and climate goals. Other policies, such as producing synthetic gas from coal or relocating coal plants to the interior, might produce benefits for air pollution but make the climate problem worse.

The US has limited leverage over this domestic dynamic in China, but we identify 4 strategies the US can engage in to make it more likely that China will choose policies that produce co-benefits for climate change. These include: 1) the US keeping its own climate commitments (2) fostering transparency through research partnerships (3) pursuing complementary processes to the UNFCCC and (4) considering border tax adjustments.  Let me say a bit more about each one of these ideas. Continue reading

Thoughts on Subjectivity in Writing about Israel

This is a guest post from Mira Sucharov, an  Associate Professor at Carleton University. 

Particularly in areas of contested politics — controversial policy issues, protracted conflict, clashing narratives, and the like — how much responsibility do authors have to remain unbiased? It’s a problematic word, bias. It’s almost always used either in the context of accusation or in ingratiating self-deprecation. But what if we shift from the term bias to the more encompassing — and less value-laden term — subjectivity?

I recently reviewed four books on Israel and Israeli-Palestinian relations for International Politics Reviews (ungated access here). Each book deploys what some would call bias — and others would call subjectivity — in varying ways. Partly because of the respective narrative voice of the authors and partly because of the differing goals of each work, the effectiveness of the subjectivity tool varies in the hands of each writer. And if I’m going to take subjectivity seriously, I would be obfuscating if I didn’t say that their effects on me, as a reader, are no doubt partly a function of my own values and viewpoint — in short, both my own subjectivity and my subjective preference to see it used in the hands of my peers. Continue reading

New Facebook App for the Duck

I’m just testing a new plugin so that posts automatically feed to our Facebook page if that’s where you get your news. Don’t mind me!


You Are Doing It Wrong

The former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis (also a former colleague) has compared Greece’s situation to “fiscal waterboarding” at the hands of its creditors. Thomas Piketty has accused Germany of forgetting its own post-World War II experience with debt relief. When I read some of the appeals to Germany and the European Union on Greece’s debt situation,  I thought as an act of strategic framing that Greece/Syriza (and to a lesser extent those of its supporters like Piketty) might be going about it wrong.

As I wrote about in my first book Moral Movements and Foreign Policy, in the late 1990s, the Jubilee 2000 campaign galvanized a global movement to write-off the debts of the world’s poorest countries. That movement succeeded in persuading key creditors, including Germany, as well as the World Bank and IMF to embrace (or at least grudgingly implement) debt relief.

Now, the stakes in the current situation are very different. Then, Germany was only owed about $6 billion by developing countries, and unlike Greece with the common currency, Germany’s own economic situation was scarcely implicated in the economies of the developing world. That said, there are some parallels here that I think are potentially relevant, the traditional reluctance by the German finance ministry and elites, particularly among Christian Democrats, to write-off debt being among them.  Continue reading

Free Data, Get Your Data Here

For the past two years, Jon Monten, Jordan Tama, and I have been working with the survey team at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs (Dina Smeltz and Craig Kafura) to revive the leader surveys that the Council used to run alongside their  foreign policy opinion surveys of the American public. Because of the expense and the difficulties of getting responses, the Council discontinued those surveys in 2004, leaving academics with really limited options for comparing public and elite attitudes. With the release of a Council report and a  recent piece ($, DM me for a PDF) in Foreign Affairs, we are happy to announce the return of the surveys and release of the public and leader data (currently SPSS format but other file types to be uploaded). In light of the Lacour scandal, we wanted to make that data widely available to scholars as soon as possible. I thought I’d use this post to talk about the challenges of reinvigorating those surveys. Continue reading

Additional Arguments Against Legalizing the Trade in Rhino Horn Pt. 3

In my last two posts (here, here), I wrote about a recent Foreign Affairs piece that proposed lifting the ban on trading rhino horn and the political and substantive reasons why such an idea is problematic.

Are there reasons to think that a one-off sale or even a permanent normalization of the trade might go well? While Save the Rhino is against one-off sales, it is a little more equivocal on a semi-permanent regulation of the trade (though I doubt this is where other NGOs are):

Save the Rhino International is generally in favour of sustainable use, believing that conservation efforts must, as far as possible, be income-generating in order to avoid over-reliance on international donor support (and any undue strings attached to funding support by those donors). In reality, we recognise that some rhino conservation field programmes have very few options for income generation (unlike, for example, government wildlife departments that derive income from National Park fees), so we accept that there will continue to be a need for donor funding in many cases. However, we have not yet reached a position on the debate over a (semi) permanent legalisation of the trade in rhino horn.

On the demand side, South Africa (if it is to propose a legal trade at the next CITES CoP in 2016) still needs to establish a credible trading partner. Neither Vietnam nor China nor any other country has yet come forward. Being a credible trading partner will entail a much higher level of law enforcement and political will to combat the illegal trade in rhino horn than has been evidenced so far. Who knows how rising affluence in other Asian countries will affect the demand for rhino horn? And who knows how many more Vietnamese or Chinese will want to buy rhino horn once the stigma of buying illegal products is removed.

Will either regulated trade or a one-off sale of rhino horn incentivize demand?

Continue reading

Arguments Against Legalizing the Rhino Horn Trade Pt. 2

In my last post, I reacted to a Foreign Affairs piece that suggested lifting the ban on rhino horn, as South Africa has toyed with in the lead up to the 2016 CITES meeting it will host. Whether or not this would be a one-off sale like the one for ivory in 2008 or more of a permanent lifting of the trade ban is uncertain. A committee in South Africa is currently reviewing evidence and accepting testimony on the topic. Though South Africa is home to nearly 3/4  of the world’s remaining rhinos, lifting the ban in some capacity  would require 2/3 of the voting members at CITES’ approval. In this post, I review some of the main arguments advocates have mustered to oppose legalization of the trade, with which I largely concur.

I admit that the current situation is untenable, but I’m not convinced that the legalization argument is politically or substantively wise.

What is the political argument against lifting the ban?

It’s not going to  happen. Getting 2/3 of the countries in the world to approve lifting the ban in 2016 is a heavy lift. Will Travers of the Born Free Foundation makes a pretty strong case that this legalization discussion is a non-starter and counter-productive:

“Let’s say SA does put through its proposal, and that it has a central selling organisation as part of its proposal with lots of safeguards built in. Perhaps there’s even some designated trading partners. That has to be approved by 66 percent or more of the attending parties to COP17. In total, there are 180 parties to Cites. But let’s say 160 parties turn up at the meeting.

“That means SA will have to get 107 votes for that to fly. At the moment, my understanding is the EU is against trade. That’s 28 votes. I don’t think the US is going to take it. Australia is going to say no. Kenya too. There’s a whole raft of countries against. We only have to tip up to 55 votes against, and the blocking minority prevents it.

“You know what I’d say to SA? ‘Don’t bother. Don’t do it.’ It’s hugely embarrassing to go to the conference and get 30 votes on the table. It’s happened in the past where people walk out sweating and feeling ill. And you’re the host country.

What are the substantive arguments against lifting the ban? Continue reading

Legalizing the Rhino Horn Trade: A Terrible Idea? Pt. 1

Two weeks ago, I came cross a provocative piece  (paywall, free version here) Foreign Affairs published earlier this year by Alexander Kasterine from the UN/WTO International Trade Center on legalizing the trade in wildlife, namely for rhino horn, but conceivably for other species that are currently illegal to trade under the Convention on the International Trades in Endangered Species (CITES). Indeed, South Africa, host to the 2016 CITES meeting and home of the majority of the world’s remaining rhinos, is angling to legalize the trade in rhino horn in the face of an unprecedented onslaught of poaching that the current is facing. Is legalization of the trade in these species a good idea? In the first of several posts, I’m going to begin to analyze this question. My initial take on this question is that legalizing the trade is not a good idea, but I’m using these posts to try to work through the arguments for and against the idea, beginning with rhinos but then I’ll assess some other species.

Kasterine’s main argument is that the ban is failing Africa’s wildlife:

Continue reading

After Tenure

While the lead up to tenure is often terrifyingly stressful, even attaining that goal is a bit daunting as it raises the question, “Now what?” I suppose on some level one can then set one’s sights on the next thing, Full Professor, but that obviously doesn’t have the same significance in terms of career and life trajectory that tenure does. Getting tenure raises all sorts of questions about what you want to be when you grow up, if a life in the academy makes you happy, or if the kind of life you are leading in the academy is what you want to be doing.

When I first started graduate school, I had no intention of going in to academia, though it is the family business. No, as I told my designated mentor on the first day of graduate school, the veteran comparativist Sam Barnes, “I want to run for Congress and if that doesn’t work out, I will teach.” Pretty clueless. As Dan Drezner has pointed out, the gravitational pull of universities is strong for those pursuing a PhD, and I succumbekd to the temptation to go into academia with the continuation of the same kinds of incentive structures I was familiar with from before, get publications out replaced get good grades. Aim for a top 3 journal! Try to get the citation count up! I had the nagging suspicion that there is more to life than that and more out of this episode experience that I had to have if I wanted to stick with it.

I made the decision upon getting tenure that I wanted to teach and work on issues that I cared about. While that was always true before,  I had less flexibility in terms of teaching choices. I was a price-taker: we need you to teach a writing class so here you go. After tenure, I made the choice that I wanted to teach a mix of classes, one that obviously the school needed and others that I needed. I was an environmental activist and development campaigner twenty years ago in college (and indeed knowledge of that space greatly informs my scholarly interests in social movements). I often ask myself, would my 20-something self be proud of the person I have become? Sometimes, in the slog for tenure, publications, and provincial university politics, you can lose track of what is important.

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