Steve Saideman is Professor and the Paterson Chair in International Affairs at Carleton University’s Norman Paterson School of International Affairs. He has written The Ties That Divide: Ethnic Politics, Foreign Policy and International Conflict; For Kin or Country: Xenophobia, Nationalism and War (with R. William Ayres); and NATO in Afghanistan: Fighting Together, Fighting Alone (with David Auerswald), and elsewhere on nationalism, ethnic conflict, civil war, and civil-military relations.
I have regularly seen stuff online or in academic publications complaining about professionalization and what it has meant for Political Science. The basic idea is that things were great before people became focused on stuff like citation counts, which has led to all kinds of perverse incentives. The main complaint, it seems, is that scholars will try to game citations and this will force them into bad habits and away from good work, like thinking big thoughts (grand theory).
This is a guest post by Idean Salehyan. Associate Professor of Political Science, University of Texas at Dallas
“Why did you become an academic?” is a question that I’m frequently asked. For me, my path into this profession is pretty clear. I was about fourteen and a freshman in high school in the early 1990s. A few of my friends joined the school chapter of Amnesty International, and I figured I’d go along. My world was changed. I learned of people being slaughtered because their ethnicity; political activists imprisoned for their beliefs; widespread torture and sexual assault; and refugees flooding across borders in search of safety. This was the era of massacres in Bosnia and Rwanda. CNN broadcast murder while the world just watched. The comfortable space of my childhood ended, and I began on a journey of human rights activism.
This is a guest post by Paul Beaumont, PhD Candidate at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU). Previously, he worked as an academic writing advisor at NMBU and as a Junior Research Fellow at the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (NUPI).
Some time ago, back when Duckpods still happened, Nicholas Onuf talked to Dan Nexon about the impact of World of Our Making (WOOM). Onuf’s masterpiece is rightly credited with founding Constructivism in International Relations. Yet as the two reflected upon the course 1990s constructivism embarked upon, Onuf acknowledged that his linguistic constructivism had not quite fostered the sort of research he had envisioned. While glad of the recognition he received for WOOM, Nick jokingly laments that his book had become “widely cited but never read”. Victim of “drive by citations”, Nexon remarked, “we could do a whole podcast on those alone.”
A guest post by Layna Mosley,* Professor of Political Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
(*with contributions from Jeff Colgan, Beth Copelovitch, Mark Copelovitch, Artie G, Anna Grzymala-Busse, Roger Halchin, Andrew Herring , Steph Jeffries, Julia Lynch, Jon Pevehouse, Milada Vachudova, Erik Voeten and Christopher Zorn)
President Trump’s proposed economic policies may be bad news for some businesses, like US firms with international supply chains, but if my behavior is any indication of broader trends, Trump has generated a boom for the beverage industry. While I’ve so far stuck to whatever happens to be on hand at home – IPA, stout, rosé, lighter fluid – it promises to be a long four years (hopefully, the 21st Amendment will endure, even if the rest of the Constitution does not). It’s time to diversify one’s drink choices.
This is a guest post by Dr. Sherrill Stroschein, Senior Lecturer (Associate Professor) in Politics, Department of Political Science, University College London
We have all been driven to understand what is going on over the past few days. Some of these discussions would be improved with lesser-used tools to think more systematically about events. There are three approaches that can help to do this that have had less exposure than they should.
This is a guest post by Christopher Gelpi and Elias Assaf. Christopher Gelpi is Chair of Peace Studies and Conflict Resolution at the Mershon Center for International Security Studies and Professor of Political Science and Elias Assaf is a Ph.D. candidate in Political Science at The Ohio State University, both at The Ohio State University
President Donald Trump adopted a variety of controversial and unorthodox foreign policy stances during the 2016 presidential campaign. Since taking office, Mr. Trump has moved quickly to begin implementing many of these policies – including a border wall with Mexico, a ban on immigration from certain majority-Muslim countries, and withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership. While Mr. Trump was very clear about his intentions during the campaign, public reaction to his implementation of these policies has nonetheless been quite negative. Protests among left-leaning progressives in response to the anti-Muslim travel restriction are not surprising, but even prominent Republican leaders have been critical of Trump’s foreign policy actions since taking office. Moreover, according to Gallup’s tracking poll, President Trump’s disapproval rating rose sharply during his first week in office. Within eight days of taking office, a majority of the public already disapproved of the job he was doing as President.
I was reminded on twitter that international relations professors have trained students for generations to focus on the third and second levels of analysis and dismiss the first–that individuals and their characteristics matter much less than the constraining impact of institutions and the incentives provided by the international system.
So, should we just apologize as Trump sells out the postWWII order and ends American hegemony by whim or fiat? No, we need to drink heavily. Seriously, there are a few real responses to this question of agency and structure.
In conversations with friends, I quickly realized that the International Studies Association faces some significant problems ahead. The advent of the Trump administration is likely to lead to two kinds of complications:
it may be hard for foreign scholars to get visas to attend the conference
that scholars may want to boycott conferences that take place in the US if Trump follows through on a variety of things he promised/threatened/tweeted during the campaign.
The President-Elect has called for expanding the US nuclear arsenal, not just modernizing it (old warheads may not be good warheads). And when asked about whether this might lead to an arms race, he said woot!
This is a guest post by Eric Grynaviski, an Associate Professor of Political Science at International Affairs at George Washington University. He is the author of Constructive Illusions (Cornell, 2014) .He studies sociological approaches to cooperation and conflict, and international ethics.
Over the last few days, protestors have taken to the streets to combat what they believe is an evil power that will soon occupy the White House. The problem of evil has featured in rhetoric about this election, in fact, for months, as featured in the Washington Postcommentaryontheelection. The tropes “politics is evil,” “Hillary is evil,” and “Trump is evil” have a new significance when people are confused and disoriented by Trump’s surprising win.
There is a lot to think about in the aftermath of Trump’s win. Lots of early hot talks will be wrong. One of the first reactions has been to wonder about the value of political science (which is not the most important thing to think about but we have plenty of time and bandwidth to cover this and everything else):
“Should we just bury political science as a discipline?” Some of this week’s best reactions to Trump’s win: https://t.co/OD707adPkR
The joy of blogging is that one can come up with whatever title one wants. An agony of academic publishing is that one cannot do the same for articles published in academic journals. However, getting published is the thing, so I am mighty pleased that the first piece of the Phil/Dave/Steve project on legislatures and oversight over the armed forces of the world’s democracies is now published: “Public critic or secretive monitor: party objectives and legislative oversight of the military in Canada.”* The big question, of course, is how did a paper on Canada get into West European Politics? The answer: tis part of a special issue on executive-legislative relations and foreign/defence policy.
Today, Dan Drezner pulled on my chain more effectively than damn near any other scholar I respect. I should keep quiet (not my strength) as I have an article* I am revising for resubmission that addresses this very argument–that big IR theory has gone away somehow. But I cannot help but respond, partly because this article may not make it past the next stage and partly because by the time it does, people will have moved on (or not, as this argument keeps coming up).
Seems to be the time of year when folks post their advice for aspiring professors on how to succeed at the job talk. While there are other parts of the process–being interviewed one on one by various members of the department or getting grilled by a committee (something that happens far more in Canada than in the US), the most important (and probably not deservedly so)* part of the “fly-out” is giving a talk based on one’s research and responding in the Q&A.
As has become a tradition, political scientists who are active on twitter are meeting up at the APSA: Thursday, 7pm at Pennsylvania 6, a nearby bar. The idea is to get a chance to chat with people you may “know” online but have not met in person. I hope to see you there.
LTG (retired) Mike Flynn has become a Trump advocate and appeared at the Republican National Convention. General (retired) John Allen surprised many by not just speaking at the Democratic National Convention but giving such enthusiastic support to Clinton. The big question is: is this problematic to have recently retired military officers take such public positions in the middle of a national election? Yes. But what can you do?