This is a guest post from Zoe Marks. Zoe Marks is currently Director of the Global Development Academy at the University of Edinburgh and Program Director of the MSc in African Studies; in September 2018, she will join the faculty at Harvard Kennedy School. Her research focuses on peace and conflict, gender, and inequality and has been published in various outlets, including African Affairs and Civil Wars.
As Steve Saideman wrote here last week, August is a time of dashed summer dreams, finding consolation in looming stability, and scrambling to get syllabi in order for the new academic year. Whether you are a new or seasoned professor, August is rarely a time to “perfect your class”. However, in the name of progress-not-perfection, I also try to remember that August is no time to forsake rigor and inclusivity in course design. Good intentions aren’t enough to address race, class, and gender biases in research and teaching.
An impressive — and sobering — array of academic research has emphasized the need to change the status quo in order to equitably publish, cite, recognize and reward women and non-white academics, colleagues in the Global South, and researchers from other marginalized and underrepresented groups. If you are one of the growing numbers of faculty trying to tackle this, you have probably come to suspect that expanding your reading list is not a magic bullet. (Paulo Freire and bell hooks warned us.) As we start a new academic year (in the Northern hemisphere) and incorporate new authors and topics into our courses, one small change can be a shot-in-the-arm for more rigorous and inclusive teaching: simply require students to cite underrepresented scholars in their written work. Continue reading
This is a guest post from Eric Van Rythoven. Eric Van Rythoven recently finished his PhD at Carleton University studying emotion, world politics, and security. His work is published in Security Dialogue and European Journal of International Relations.
There is a recurring frustration among observers of the Trump administration that commentary easily becomes distracted. Stories about the Trump family’s everyday nepotism and corruption may be important in the context of a so-called ‘normal’ presidency, but these are small marbles when compared to the administration’s catastrophic performance at Helsinki or the odious policy of child separation. For many IR scholars the message is clear: don’t focus on Ivanka’s clothing line, focus on what matters.
But what if stories like the decline of Ivanka’s clothing brand matter more than we think? In isolation, these kinds of stories appear as inconsequential distractions. Taken together, they form a broader genre of reporting focused on the rising personal costs of serving under Trump. This genre of reporting is important because it points to two crucial political processes occurring around the Trump administration right at this moment: backlash and stigmatization. I want to suggest that scholars should not only think about how these processes are significant features of contemporary politics, but how they can inform how we think about restraint in the age of Trump. Continue reading
As August accelerates and academics panic as their summer dreams/plans meet the harsh reality that one usually does not get done all that they want to do, it is time to give unsolicited advice to the new folks. For great advice on how to manage one’s mental and emotional well-being, see this thread. I have some more tactical advice about expectations and getting through the first year, as I remember making the same mistake three times on the first day of teaching.
This is a guest post from Peter Henne, Assistant Professor at the University of Vermont.
Robert Gilpin passed away recently. Most of us knew him as the author of War and Change in World Politics. Others knew him primarily from his work on international political economy. But I had another connection with him; Gilpin was a Vermonter, and an alumni of the University of Vermont (where I am a professor). This gave me the opportunity to meet with him in person, reminding me of the massive impact his work has had on my career.
In my Introduction to International Relations course I assign Gilpin a few times, in the sessions on realism, hegemonic stability theory and international political economy. My students’ observations that they “read a whole lot of Gilpin” brought me to the attention of Gilpin’s family (Vermont is a small state). They reached out, and asked if I would meet with him. I of course jumped at the opportunity.
We had a pleasant chat one morning earlier this year. Gilpin expressed sincere interest in my scholarly work; I of course could only dream of having a sliver of the impact he has had, so this felt good. We chatted about the Middle East, which is what I focus on. I brought my well-used copy of War and Change with me—dog-eared and frayed from repeated re-reading—and he graciously offered to sign it. I hoped seeing my (mostly awestruck) margin notes in his book would better express how much his work meant than anything I could say to him. Continue reading
This topic came up on twitter–how do we get our friends and relatives to understand the academic job market? My first take: don’t bother. It can get really confusing really fast. I consider my family well-educated, yet deep into my career, my mother thought that my appearances on TV and radio would help me get another job. Nope. Given that job market season is approaching (sorry!),* here’s my listicle of things you have to explain:
This post comes from Steve Weber, Professor at the I-School and Department of Political Science and Director of the Center for Long-Term Cybersecurity at the University of California, Berkeley, and a co-director of the Bridging the Gap project.
It has become common in 2018 to hear that the United States and China are locking themselves into an Artificial Intelligence ‘arms race’. While global politics will certainly change in the machine learning era, the supposed ‘arms race’ between the US and China may turn out to be less interesting and relevant in this world than the relationships between the two machine learning superpowers and everyone else.
Which race will prove more relevant depends upon the long-term economic and security consequences of general purpose technologies, as well as the distinctive characteristics of the technologies that fall under the AI umbrella. (I prefer the term ‘machine learning’ because it carries fewer science-fiction connotations.) General purpose technologies are technologies that sweep across the economy and impact what is possible in many sectors, shaking up how companies and governments do what they do in the broadest sense. Steam locomotion is the obvious 19th century example. Machine learning is a 21st century general purpose technology because it can (and will) be applied in just about every economic production process you can imagine, from retail management to autonomous driving to drug discovery and beyond.
An even more important characteristic of machine learning as a technology is that it has strong first mover advantages and positive feedback loops. In simple terms, the better you are at machine learning at any given moment, the faster you are likely to improve relative to those ‘behind’ you. A firm that has excellent machine learning products (say, a great map application) will find that its products have greater success in the market. The more people who use the product, the more data are created for the firm to work with, which should lead to faster improvement in the underlying algorithms. In turn, that means the next iteration of the product will be even better. This positive feedback cycle can run on a very fast cadence, since data products can be updated far more frequently than any physical product (some are updated daily or even more frequently than that). All of this implies that the leader should speed away from competitors at an ever-accelerating pace. Michael Horowitz recently examined in the Texas National Security Review the potential military implications of such first-mover advantages in AI.
This simple model has a few limitations and caveats. Continue reading
Readers of the Duck will be very familiar with Duck editor Josh Busby’s commentary on climate change and security, U.S. foreign policy, and a host of other topics. Earlier this year, Bridging the Gap (BTG) awarded Josh a Policy Engagement Fellowship (PEF). The purpose of this fellowship is to support efforts by scholars to connect their research on international issues to the policy community. Josh is using his PEF to write policy-oriented pieces and organize events with practitioners on the role of actors other than the U.S. federal government in combating climate change. This work builds on Josh’s prior research on various dimensions of climate change and is particularly timely as the United States under Donald Trump retreats from a leadership role – or even a constructive role – on this critical global challenge.
BTG recently asked Josh some questions about his overall research agenda, his climate change work, and engaging with policy communities and the public. In addition to the work highlighted below, keep an eye out for a forthcoming Atlantic Council report by Josh and Nigel Purvis on leadership in the climate regime, which will draw on a memo Josh wrote for a BTG workshop on public goods last fall.
BTG: Your work has examined issues ranging from climate change to global health to U.S. foreign policy. What’s motivated your choices of particular research topics?
JB: I was an anti-apartheid activist in high school and an environment and development campaigner in college so I’ve been drawn to big global issues since I was young. My first two books were on social movements and whether and how they could exercise influence on foreign policy. As an American, it was a natural fit for me to focus my energies on my home country. My goals were mostly normative. That is, these were big issues I cared about and wanted to write about in my scholarly work. Continue reading
For the first year of the Trump Administration, the Washington D.C.- based denizens of the U.S. foreign policy establishment assured themselves that although Donald Trump had tipped over the geopolitical apple cart, everything broken could be put back into place without undue difficulty. They were wrong.
Taking their cue from the caustic reactions of American allies to Trump’s twin summit debacles, foreign policy elites on both sides of the aisle are now a chastened bunch–only too aware of the immense damage Trump is doing to the fabric holding together America’s alliances, the de jure and de facto clusters of its closest allies.
The allies have become increasingly disabused of this Administration’s year-long recitation of how much it values them, in both trade and security terms. For they now stand on the precipice of deeming the U.S. a pariah nation state, not to be trusted and sufficiently harmful to their interests that they appear on the verge of sidelining the U.S. in their renewed approach to preventing the world from succumbing to the throes of nationalism. It would appear the world is at an unprecedented inflection point, at least in the postwar era.
Donald Trump’s penchant for lauding dictators and potentates, while denigrating allies and friends–in remarkably personal and pugilistic terms–has caused our NATO, G-7, and WTO allies to begin laying the groundwork for isolating the U.S. when it comes to tending to their core national security interests. Already in the early days of the new Administration, public reports surfaced that the UK and Israel had discussed at the highest levels of their governments whether it might be necessary to begin withholding certain tranches of their most sensitive intelligence.
In recent weeks the President of the European Council Donald Tusk remarked “with friends like this, who needs enemies,” while the new German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas gave a speech in which he equated recent U.S. foreign policy forays with those of Russia’s actions that have directly harmed Europe. Already his predecessor Sigmar Gabriel had declared on his way out that “the U.S. is permanently changed.” And Emmanuel Macron declared this week that France does not share the same values with the U.S. Only our Asian allies have been more cautious in their recent appraisals of American missteps, for traditionally Japan and South Korea are less public about their discontent.
The cost of the unprecedented calumny on the part of the Trump Administration in their eyes is significant, and growing closer to severe with each passing week. For it is increasingly clear that America’s allies are becoming less secure and less well-off due to direct assaults on them from this President, both verbal and consequential. Ipso facto, the U.S. is becoming less secure and less well off as a result. Continue reading
This post comes from James Goldgeier, professor of international relations at American University, Visiting Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, and a co-director of the Bridging the Gap project. You can follow him on Twitter @JimGoldgeier.
Earlier this month, we held our annual Bridging the Gap (BtG) International Policy Summer Institute (IPSI) for faculty and postdocs who want to be more publicly engaged and policy relevant. Scholars who want to pursue this type of work need to keep in mind a point Duke professor and BtG co-director Bruce Jentleson always makes: Faculty members, particularly those on the tenure-track, should view these efforts as “in addition to” not “instead of” their core academic research. Any professor who wants to bridge the gap successfully needs to develop the scholarly expertise that provides credibility among policy and public audiences.
One issue that we discuss at length in our programs is how to build networks among the Washington, D.C., policy community. Your job doesn’t have to be located in DC to do this, but you have to learn how to navigate the different think tank and policy communities if you want to extend your reach. (Parallel principles apply for scholars interested in building networks in their state and local communities.) Networking is a long-term endeavor that never ends if you want to remain actively engaged in the debates. Here are three of the key takeaways from nearly fifteen years of conversations with policy insiders and influencers during our BtG training programs. Continue reading
The following is a guest post by Mason Richey, an associate professor of international studies at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies.
I am Trump; I am Trump.
Trump I am.
That Trump I am, that Trump I am, I do not like that Trump I am.
Would you like CVID?
I do not like it, don’t you see? I do not like CVID.
This is a guest post from Linda Åhäll, a Lecturer in international relations from Keele University, UK. Follow her on Twitter at
This is the sixth post in the series on #metooacademia
An Australian newspaper described #MeToo in Sweden as “the biggest Swedish women’s movement since women secured the right to vote almost a hundred years ago”. Here I offer my impression on events in Sweden during 2017 and examine: What is distinct about the #MeToo movement from previous movements for women’s rights and/or against gender-based violence? I identify three interrelated themes in the #MeToo debate: from rights to justice; from victims to perpetrators; and from gender equality to feminism as understanding logics of power. Together, these themes offer an opportunity to re-situate feminism as a key tool to expose power. However, I end on how #MeToo has also uncovered an increasingly stronger anti-feminism backlash that we must take very seriously. Continue reading
This is a guest post from Swati Parashar, an Associate Professor in Peace and Development at the School of Global Studies, Gothenburg University, Sweden. She tweets @swatipash
This is the fifth post in the series on #metooacademia
#Metoo started as a twitter hashtag, but has no doubt become one of the most effective, visible and also controversial feminist strategies across time and space. While it has been embraced widely for its ‘impact’ factor, it has also revealed the faultlines and dilemmas in feminist strategies and activism. In this short piece, I want to draw attention to the significance of #metoo in the context of postcolonial India and the challenges it has presented to the feminist movement there.
Continuity over exceptionality
In several Western contexts, #metoo seems to have been more successful and has created its own strong vocabulary and visibility, almost making its appeal exceptional. In several other non-Western contexts, however, #metoo is part of a continuing trend of everyday resistance against gendered violence experienced by women and the impunity enjoyed by perpetrators. #Metoo has emerged out of these local and global campaigns and also contributed to and strengthened them. At the global level, the #metoo campaign must be seen in continuity with the One Billion Rising which is one of the biggest transnational movements addressing violence against women. This movement originated in 2012 and argues that everyday domestic and sexual violence, which is experienced by at least one third of women globally in their lifetime, needs to be addressed as a pressing matter. Continue reading
This post in the Bridging the Gap series comes from Peter Henne, Assistant Professor at the University of Vermont and a 2017 participant in BTG’s International Policy Summer Institute.
Earlier this week, Nikki Haley, the US Ambassador to the United Nations, announced the United States was leaving the UN’s Human Rights Council. Haley pointed to the body’s disproportionate focus on Israel and its inaction on human rights abusers. While some cheered this move due to problems with the council, others worried this would decrease America’s ability to fight human rights abuses. My research suggests both views are accurate. The UN Human Rights Council is flawed, and repressive states can use the body to deflect criticism of their record, particularly on religious repression. At the same time, the fact that they can do this suggests that the Council and its activities matter. America should try to help the council live up to its name, not write it off as a lost cause. Continue reading
This is a post from the Duck’s Stephen M. Saideman, Paterson Chair In International Affairs, Carleton University.
This is the fourth in the series on #metooacademia
It is not surprising that #Metoo was the overwhelming choice for the Pressing Politics Panel. Not only has this been one of the big stories of the year, but the difficult situations facing women in their various professions have been of much concern for years. In my own corner of the internet, I have found that of the ten blog posts with the most hits, four are those that address sexism and sexual harassment in political science and international affairs. I don’t write those posts to get hits—I rarely have a clue about which posts will get more interest—but because I have seen enough harm over my 25 years or so as a professor. In this post, I first address the consequences for workplaces beyond the individual who are harming and being harmed. I then complain about the standard procedures. I conclude with some suggestions for what we can do. Continue reading
This is a guest post from Katharine A. M. Wright, a Lecturer in International Politics at Newcastle University. Her research focuses on gender and international security institutions, including NATO. In this blog posts she reflects on the issues raised by #metoo in relation to UK Universities. Follow her on Twitter @KAMWright.
This is the third post in a series on #metooacademia.
Sexual violence* is endemic and structurally imbedded in our higher education institutions. For those of us working on the ‘front line’ of the academy, this is increasingly difficult to ignore and never more so than for women in the academy. We hear stories from students and colleagues, about other students and other colleagues. As women in a disciplinary space where men are overrepresented, students and colleagues are more likely to seek us out and confide in us, placing an additional layer upon our responsibilities as scholars. This holds more true for women of colour. It has therefore felt perplexing for those of us who have been confided in to hear other colleagues question whether the University, and our discipline of IR more broadly, is a space impacted by the epidemic of sexual violence too. We are left wondering how ‘they’ cannot have seen it. In this blog post, I reflect on the institutional barriers to acknowledging sexual violence in Higher Education (HE) and link this to the personal cost of ‘complaint’. Continue reading
This is a guest post from Sara McLaughlin Mitchell, F. Wendell Miller Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Iowa.
This is the second in the series on #metooacademia.
Like many female academics, I have experienced #Metoo moments. As a graduate student, I was invited to a visiting faculty member’s apartment expecting multiple people to be there. I found myself alone and being propositioned for sex. As a married assistant professor, a senior faculty member at a conference invited me to his room after we had been drinking together. In both cases, the professors respected my decision to say no to their propositions. As I began to advise more female students and faculty members, however, I noticed that my experiences were mild relative to what some of them experienced. Some of my students and colleagues were raped, some were assaulted or grabbed, while others were persistently harassed in a sexual manner. When my colleague, Arthur Miller, was accused of trading sexual favors for grades, an act that ultimately led to his suicide, my eyes became open to the broader dynamics of the #Metoo movement. Many students I advised were humiliated in my colleague’s office, facing a choice they should never experience. Some of my senior male colleagues knew about Art’s behavior which infuriated me. I didn’t initially post anything about the #Metoo movement because I felt that my experiences, while unpleasant on the harassment side, did not compare to students and colleagues who had been raped, assaulted, and placed into professionally inappropriate situations. Our discussions at the 2018 International Studies Association (ISA) conference, though, helped me to embrace my own place in the #Metoo movement. Continue reading
This is guest post from Nina Hall, an Assistant Professor of International Relations at Johns Hopkins SAIS (tweets @ninawth) and Sarah von Billerbeck is a Lecturer in Politics and International Relations at the University of Reading (tweets @SvBillerbeck). The authors would like to thank the other Pressing Politics panel co-organizers: Christine Cheng (@cheng_christine), J. Andrew Grant (@jandrewgrant), and John Karlsrud (@johnkarlsrud). We hope to host another Pressing Politics panel at the 2019 annual convention on a topic ISA members deem most pressing.
This is the first post in a series on #metooacademia.
How an ISA Pressing Politics Panel Tackled #Metoo
The International Studies Association (ISA) annual convention is one of the largest academic conferences for International Relations scholars, it attracts approximately 6,000 attendees from all over the world each year. This year the ISA conference decided that the most pressing politics issue to discuss was the #metoo movement in academia. In an innovative roundtable, six panelists from India, Sweden, the US, Canada, and the UK, discussed how the #metoo movement affected them and the academics institutions to which they belong.
This panel was the first of its kind at ISA: a small group of us had worked with ISA to establish a Pressing Politics panel for which the topic was held open until approximately a month before the convention, after which members voted for the topic in an online poll. Our aim was for ISA members to select a pressing, recent, issue that had come up since participants had submitted their conference proposals. We wanted an issue that would not be discussed otherwise at ISA, but that needed academic attention.
Our inspiration for the panel came from the 2017 ISA annual convention, which took place in the aftermath of US President Donald Trump’s travel ban on individuals from several Muslim-majority countries. Numerous scholars were prevented from attending the ISA annual convention, which provoked outrage and some ended up boycotting the conference. For those who did attend, discussions in hotel lobbies and hallways and at receptions and post-panel happy hours focused heavily on the ban. This is hardly surprising among a group of individuals who dedicate themselves to better understanding how the international system works, where and when cooperation happens, and why relations between states are good or bad. However, because the deadline for submitting paper and panel proposals is approximately 10 months before the actual conference, there were no formal panels or other fora available to assess, analyze, and debate this late-breaking event, something that many found frustrating. We wanted to establish the tradition of at least one Pressing Politics panel at ISA, to ensure we as the academic community debate and engage with the major issues of our times. Continue reading
While in the US children are being separated from their parents seeking political asylum and taken to a Walmart prison, some Russian lawmakers are concerned that illegal aliens can enter the country through its citizens’ vaginas during the FIFA World Cup that starts today.
This post in the Bridging the Gap series come from Sara Plana and Rachel Tecott, doctoral candidates in the Department of Political Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. (Sara is also an alumna of BtG’s New Era Workshop.) They are the founders of the Future Strategy Forum and co-organized the Future of Force conference held in May 2018. Follow them on Twitter @saracplana and @racheltecott.
Last month, the Center for Strategic and International Studies and the Kissinger Center at John Hopkins SAIS hosted a conference on the “Future of Force,” inaugurating a new series called the Future Strategy Forum. Like many DC conferences, the line-up featured a mix of preeminent academics, practitioners, and pracademics on discussion panels – but in this case, all of them were women. These experts discussed the implications of rising great and regional powers, non-state actors, and emerging technologies, and the approaches and challenges to crafting an integrated approach to US foreign policy. The final, keynote panel brought together women scholars (including us!) who have worked in both policymaking and academia, to investigate the academic-policy divide.
We left the day with much to think about, but four main themes struck us especially. Continue reading
This is a guest post from Paul Musgrave, Assistant Professor of political science at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, and Sebastian Karcher, Associate Director of the Qualitative Data Repository at Syracuse University.
Recently, the Qualitative Data Repository launched “Annotation for Transparent Inquiry (ATI)” as a method to add transparency to scholarly research. ATI is a new approach to communicating scholarly evidence that employs electronic annotations to specific passages in scholarly articles—a sort of amped-up academic version of Genius.com’s annotations to song lyrics.
The goal of ATI is to facilitate future researchers’ work by enabling easier access to underlying data while enhancing research transparency by letting authors share specific justifications for interpretive or empirical judgments and linking them to the specific sections.
ATI builds upon but goes beyond Andrew Moravcsik’s proposal for active citation to include specific frameworks for data display, storage, and retrieval. QDR, partnering with the software nonprofit Hypothesis, is developing standards and software to support this initiative.
An initial nine sample annotated articles are now available, with more on the way. As part of this effort, QDR is currently soliciting applications to participate in a second round of pilot projects. Authors of selected projects will be invited to a workshop to help shape the future of ATI and receive a honorarium.
In this post, Paul Musgrave, whose annotated International Organization piece (co-authored with Dan Nexon) was one of the pilot articles, and Sebastian Karcher, one of ATI’s creators, reflect on some lessons from the first round of pilots.