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
This is a guest post from Sander Chan, David Gordon, Emma Lecavalier, Craig Johnson, Angel Hsu, Fee Stehle, Thomas Hickmann, Jennifer Bansard, Paty Romero-Lankao
Cities have been wildly successful over recent years in positioning themselves at the center of the global conversation on climate change. For example, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) recently convened the Cities & Climate Change Conference (CitiesIPCC) in Edmonton, Alberta. The conference — hosted by a city that once advertised itself as Canada’s oil capital — brought together a diverse constellation of academics, practitioners, and policy-makers to shape a forward-looking research agenda centered around sustainable transformation to meeting global climate goals in, by, and through cities.
Recognizing the pivotal role cities have come to play in global climate politics, where they were almost invisible until the early 2000’s, we strongly support the aim of CitiesIPCCC to set a transformative research agenda on cities and climate change. However, we want to call attention that current approaches are likely to fall short and have limited value in responding to fundamental questions of social context and urban capacity.
In response, we argue for research that looks holistically at the global engagement of cities, the local context in which transformation takes place, and the institutional and political contexts in which cities are embedded. Continue reading
As a new mother of a baby boy I am enjoying a slightly different kind of golden shower than Donald Trump. So, between the 3 AM feeding and 4 AM diaper change I was scrolling through Twitter and stumbled on news about the Stanford white sausage fest that somehow qualified as a conference on applied history. Niall Ferguson managed to organize a conference and not feature a single woman or person of color. Let me walk you through some thoughts about why there aren’t more women in (political) science.
I must confess. I have not been very productive this last month in the Duck of Minerva. I have been thinking about the topic for my next post and postponing it “till tomorrow”. I have been procrastinating. Procrastination comes from the Latin pro, meaning “forward, forth, or in favor of,” and crastinus, meaning “of tomorrow”. The Oxford English Dictionary defines procrastination as a postponement, “often with the sense of deferring though indecision, when early action would have been preferable,” or as “defer[ing] action, especially without good reason.” According to psychologist Pychyl, procrastination is fundamentally a visceral, emotional reaction to what you have to do and that you consider hard, boring or overwhelming. Continue reading
This inaugural post from our partners at Bridging the Gap is written by Naazneen Barma and Brent Durbin, who will be coordinating contributions from BTG’s network of scholars.
Take a moment to think back to college – or whenever you decided to pursue the path that has brought you here, reading about world politics and sundry related topics on the Duck of Minerva. What set you on this path? What made you want to devote years of your life to studying politics, perhaps even through formal graduate training? If you’re like us, you looked out and saw a puzzling and imperfect world, and you wanted to develop the tools to understand it more clearly. Perhaps, in the heady confidence of your youth, you even wanted to make it a better place.
As graduate students in political science at UC Berkeley in the early 2000s, we found ourselves hungry for opportunities to tie our studies to policymaking and the “real world.” Both of us had come to Berkeley from Washington, DC, and we wanted to find ways to connect to our old networks, as well as to parlay our research into new policy opportunities. In the first few years of our PhD studies, it wasn’t obvious that this would be possible.
Then two things happened.First, we discovered a group of like-minded students at Berkeley who, under the guidance of Steve Weber, would begin the work that has evolved into the Bridging the Gap project. And second, we found that there were many in the discipline who felt the same way – even if they couldn’t always tell their colleagues or advisors about it. One important marker of this community was the emergence of the Duck of Minerva in 2005, which introduced a new channel for conversation among others like ourselves.
We’re thrilled to join the Duck this fall as editors of a new “Bridging the Gap” channel. (Special thanks to Josh Busby for proposing this idea, and to the other editors for welcoming us aboard.) As Josh mentioned in his introductory post, Bridging the Gap (BTG) is an effort to build stronger connections between scholars and the policy world, both by providing professional development and networking opportunities, and by generating policy-relevant research. Continue reading
Will Moore decided to punch out, as he put it. He left behind devastated friends, co-authors and students as well as family. I have been trying to put into words how I feel today.
So far, 2017 has been a tough year in Israel for its Palestinian citizen minority. From a xenophobic billboard campaign across the country to a village demolition turned violent in the Negev, the past several weeks have highlighted issues around power and inequality in a country whose democratic aspirations are weighed down by its ethno-national identity.
As deep power differentials across society have come to the fore, what does the literature say about whether empathy might help to increase support for social justice? Yale psychologist Paul Bloom’s new book on empathy (called, fittingly, Against Empathy) suggests that putting oneself in another’s shoes may actually be less helpful for political change than empathy-boosters may think. More on that, below. First, some background on the events.
In January, a group calling itself Commanders for Israel’s Security launched a national billboard campaign featuring an image of Palestinian flag waving crowds flanked by the Arabic phrase “soon we will be a majority!” A small bubble appeared at the bottom: “For Hebrew, dial *2703.”
This World Politics in a Time of Populist Nationalism (WPTPN) guest post is written by Fiona B. Adamson, an Associate Professor of International Relations at SOAS, University of London.
In the aftermath of the UK Brexit vote, London Mayor Sadiq Khan and Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo issued a joint letter committing themselves to work more closely together and to deepen connections between cities in Europe and across the world, declaring that “the 21st century belongs to cities.” They are not the only ones who think so – sociologists, geographers, urban studies scholars and others have long focused on cities as important sites of power in the international system – sites that increasingly make up a networked global structure that exists side-by-side with the system of nation-states.
The tension between the globalized world of interconnected cities and the still territorially-defined system of nation-states is one of the factors that has come to the fore in both Brexit and the US election. Voting preferences in both cases mirrored the rural-urban geographic divide – with urban centers overwhelmingly voting “Remain” in the UK and for Clinton in the US. Indeed, both the “Leave” and Trump campaigns played on this distinction. The Brexit vote was as much about perceptions of London’s “elites” and “experts” as it was about fact-based arguments or the actual workings of the European Union. Trump’s “America First” and “Make America Great Again” version of nationalism was pitted against the “globalism” of metropolitan elites – who were deemed to represent neoliberalism, mainstream media and corporate power – but also pluralism and cultural diversity.
Yesterday, I had the chance to participate in the Bridging the Gap workshop led by Bruce Jentleson. It is an effort every summer to help younger scholars figure out how to engage the policy world in a variety of ways, including figuring out how to write and publish op-eds, how to get into government for short periods of time (like the Council on Foreign Relations International Affairs Fellowship that changed my career/life), how to engage think tanks and more.
So I’m a wee bit late to the post-International Studies Association Annual Conference blogging ritual, but better than never right? Continue reading
In about a month, High Contracting Parties to the United Nations Convention on Conventional Weapons will again consider the humanitarian and ethical problems posed by fully autonomous lethal weapons. As I’ve written before, this issue in on the UN agenda due to a savvy and well-organized network of “humanitarian disarmament” NGOs. This coalition is keen to reconstruct governments’ interpretation of how to balance military utility with humanitarian concerns when it comes to emerging technologies of violence. Yet with the landmine and cluster munitions campaigns considered some of the landmark successes in global civil society advocacy, it is fascinating how little of the transnational advocacy networks scholarly literature focuses in empirical or theoretical terms on the humanitarian disarmament sector.
Nothing throws this into sharper relief than teaching a graduate seminar in human security, and attempting to blend “transnational advocacy” week with a humanitarian disarmament focus. Aside from seminal articles by Richard Price and Nina Tannenwald, plus my own now-very-dated piece and a scattering of analyses by Clifford Bob and Noha Shawki, one is hard pressed to find good theory-driven treatments of TAN politics that utilize empirics from the area of disarmament rather than human rights, development, humanitarian affairs or the environment. And I have yet to see TAN articles that address the reconstituted nuclear ban campaign, or developments around incendiary weapons or explosive violence.*
Thankfully, two recently published articles offer both an up-to-date overview of this advocacy landscape and suggestions for how to fill this analytical gap. Continue reading
This is a guest post from Kathleen Gallagher Cunningham, an associate professor of government and politics at the University of Maryland. She is the author of Inside the Politics of Self-determination (Oxford University Press, 2014).
I was recently at a relatively small academic conference, one that I’ve been attending for years whenever I can. The size of the meeting encourages engagement between big names and small names, grad students and professors, and across genders. It is a classic academic mixer, filled with slightly awkward people, many of whom are slightly disheveled, talking about things that are really interesting in really boring ways (to outsiders).
I started attending as a grad student and have made a number of critical personal and professional connections. In addition to getting useful feedback on my own work, this venue is a great opportunity to reconnect with people in my field and get to know some new ones. While I began as a young grad student, I am now at place where I am a (newly) senior member in the field.
After the final session one day, while people trickled out of the room, I sat down with a colleague I hadn’t seen for years. I was just hearing about a fascinating research project he’s working on when another person (another senior man in the field, though I’m not sure that matters) walked up and sat down, smiled at me but did not introduce himself and started a totally independent conversation with my colleague. I got up a few minutes later to make another meeting, but this small event stayed with me.
Every year at this time I receive several queries a day from colleagues, would-be colleagues and students asking me if I’ll be “at APSA” – the Annual Conference of the American Political Science Association – and when we could meet up for a coffee.
Every year I reply several times a day:
“Sadly, I won’t be at APSA this year because it conflicts with the start of school for my children.”
This is more or less the truth but I confess it’s not the complete truth. First, I’ve realized this canned response implies I might be there next year, whereas I’ve actually been AWOL from Labor-Day-Weekend APSAs pretty much since my second child hit grade school and it’s time I admit that’s not changing. Second, the “conflict” I described is less of a conflict every year as my kids get older, yet I’m still not coming back to APSA, so that’s less and less the real reason for my absence.
The truer response to the question is that I skip APSA every year not because my son needs me desperately on the first day of school, but because I’m boycotting. I’m boycotting my professional organization for scheduling a conference so as to inhibit work-life-balance and pose an undue burden on parents in the profession, especially mothers. I’m boycotting APSA because they have done this year by year over the protest of their members. What began as an irreconcilable personal conflict for a parent of grade schoolers and partner to a dual-career spouse – what began, that is, as a simple work-life balance choice – has turned over the years into a political statement that I’ll continue to make until APSA’s policy changes. Continue reading
ISA is coming, like winter for the Starks; it’s always just around the bend. Luckily, I almost have nothing but fond memories of ISA. It was my first conference and will be the one I remain loyal to for as long as I remain able. The key though is to maximize your experience. I know too many academics who never leave the hotel, never leave panels, and don’t see the world. And please, take off your badge if you do leave the conference.
In the dustup produced by Nick Kristof, one of the basic misperceptions keeps being repeated–that the American Political Science Review is not influential or readable enough. The job of the APSR is not to be read by policy-makers but by political scientists. Really? Yes. Let me explain.
In this post, I would like to focus on the few ways in which the blogosphere and social media more generally help junior scholars. I will use myself as an example.
It is not easy for me to reach out to senior colleagues and start a dialogue. I find it much easier to respond to a blog post they publish than to email them out of the blue. Right before last ISA, I contacted a senior scholar about his guest post on the Duck. He replied in the kindest manner possible. And I had the privilege to have lunch with him at ISA. I am very thankful.
I am interested in meeting new colleagues, finding collaborators, and making new friends. But networking is not my forte. Even though I have only contributed a handful of posts to the Duck thus far, I had the opportunity to get acquainted with a few contemporaries. I look forward to meeting them in person at upcoming conferences.
Remember the times you had to dine alone at conferences because you didn’t know anyone other than your graduate school friends. I had my fair share of isolated nights. I didn’t enjoy eating alone in my hotel room. I and many others, I think, will have pleasant dinners at conferences thanks to the social media.
Academic blogs also help me stay connected to the field. I have heavy teaching responsibilities. I admit that I am not always on top of what is hot in all the subfields during the academic year. Blogs give me an idea of what I should read during the summer months. And as Jon mentioned, blog posts make good reading materials in some courses.
Facilitating a sense of community is another contribution of the blogosphere. A few people told me that they appreciated the simple post I wrote about letter of recommendation requests. The post signaled to them that they weren’t alone. Their feedback signaled to me that I wasn’t out there.
Academic blogs also offer a great opportunity to junior scholars to figure out how things work. Colleagues generously share their experiences on social media. Some offer advice. I continue to learn from them. I am glad I don’t need to reinvent the wheel.
I think junior faculty and grad students have a lot of reason to support the ISA “Online Media Caucus.” Thank you Steve and others for coming up with this proposal.
For the last few years in particular, there has been a marked increase in the number of sessional, casual, teaching-only, adjunct, fixed term, temporary job ‘opportunities’ listed and circulated in the usual IR job venues. These various titles and categories point to one reality: precarious labor is a permanent reality within academia. The trend has been quantified and well documented: in US in the last 30 years the percentage of positions held by tenured or tenure-track faculty members fell from 56.8% to 35.1%. In an excellent post in the Chronicle, Peter Conn declares “Full-time tenured and tenure-track jobs in the humanities are endangered by half a dozen trends, most of them long-term.” The trend is not new; however, as the race to the bottom with regard to casual labor hits a new low, what is missing from the discussion is (1) the ways that permanent staff reproduce/support casual labor and (2)the myths associated with the ‘opportunity’ of casual labor for PhD students and unemployed academics.
First, let’s talk about the new low. Each casual job posting seems to outline more and more unreasonable and unrealistic requirements: for example, a recent post for a year-long contract asks candidates to teach 8 courses; others ask candidates to teach a range of political science/IR topics that span nearly every sub-field; while others expect individuals to relocate for 4 months, 6 months, or only for the academic year. Universities are capitalizing on the growth of several categories of vulnerable individuals, including poor PhD students who are without scholarship or who have run out of scholarhsip funds, and academics who have been unemployed or underemployed- all desperate for experience and the prospect of a job that might lead to something permanent. Yet this exploitation narrative/depiction of the problem only goes so far. There is a need to reflect on where the accountability lies in relation to precarious labor and what can be done. This requires academics to ponder several questions, including: in what ways are secure tenure and tenure-track positions dependent on precarious/insecure/exploited labor?; what are the ethical obligations of secure staff when it comes to resisting or reacting to the casualization of academic labor?; can/how can those in secure tenure or tenure-track positions work to reverse these trends and/or support those working as precarious labor within the field? Below I list the top 4 myths associated with casual ‘opportunities’ along with the top 4 ways that permanent staff might work to acknowledge and reverse the trend.
4 (of many) Reasons Why the Casual ‘Opportunity’ is a Myth and a Trap Continue reading
There is much gnashing about citations of late. This tweet inspired the ensuing spew below:
But also this series of posts at the Monkey Cage last week on gender bias in citations (the link points to the final piece in the series, so it has links to the rest of the posts) raises questions about using citations as a metric of success. If the numbers are problematic, what should we do?
Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Lauren Wilcox. It is the 18th installment in our “End of IR Theory” companion symposium for the special issue of the European Journal of International Relations. SAGE has temporarily ungated all of the articles in that issue. This post refers to Christine Sylvester’s article (PDF). Her post appeared earlier today.
Other entries in the symposium–when available–may be reached via the “EJIR Special Issue Symposium” tag.
Sylvester productively draws out the implications of the current ‘camp’ structure of IR: on the one hand, the proliferation of ‘camps’ and communities within IR increases the opportunities for publication and advancement for those whose work does not conform to traditional disciplinary norms; on the other hand, the emergence of camps with their own journals, books series, ISA/BISA sections and common citations productive dialogue across and between camps is difficult if not impossible.
Sylvester also usefully points out that the camp system can end up with arrogant competitions within camps for dominance. Sylvester does well to highlight how comfortable camp IR can be for some people (and implicitly, how uncomfortable cross camp connections and dialogue can be, where one is forced to contend with those who do not necessarily share deeply held ontologies. Even the camp structure of feminist IR can be problematic, with feminists in IR only citing other IR feminists, leaving behind the broader world of gender/sexuality studies and reproducing some of the problems of the sex/gender distinction and erasure of racial, geographic, ability, cultural and class differences.
The current ‘camp structure’ in IR seems to be an improvement over disciplinary hegemony in the way that a world of multiple sovereign states seems to be an improvement over an imperial structure, this world of camps seem to imply functional equality among camps. Similarly, understanding the structure of IR as ‘camps’ underestimates the power dynamics laden in the structure of IR. For example, ‘camps’ suggests a kind of conditional tolerance that conceals the darker politics of regulation and aversion that Wendy Brown warned about in Regulating Aversion. Continue reading