by Peter

14 September 2009, 0051 EDT

So, I guess this is goodbye– for now at least, for a while.

Starting tomorrow, I’ll be officially joining the State Department’s Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs as an AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellow. For the past 2 weeks, I’ve been going through AAAS orientation, a program designed to introduce scientists to Washington.

This fellowship process has been quite the experience. I’m in a class of over 180 fellows–all Ph.D.’s in the sciences–who will be joining various agencies of the federal government as well as Congressional offices. There are a few social scientists, but I’m pretty sure I’m the only “political scientist” in the group. Most of my fellow fellows come from bench science, and are learning how Washington “works.” I as a political science type ostensibly already know this. The irony is rich, though, as our discipline teaches “politics” and then doesn’t understand why politicians tend to ignore our “scientific” policy advice. My week has been quite the clash of two syllabi: Intro to Political Behavior meets Intro to Research Methods.

For any of you looking for a fantastic way to spend a year (or two!) in government, I’d highly recommend checking this fellowship. While Dan’s is the one that gets all the accolades in our field (and Dan certainly deserves accolades for it), the AAAS fellowship does essentially the same thing. We’re in need of some more social scientists in the program! AAAS is tremendously supportive of its fellows, and the mission of this fellowship is to better connect science and policy. Its a goal I support, even as a “scientist” who studies policy.

As I depart the blogosphere for a prolonged hiatus, I’d like to thank everyone here at the Duck for inviting me to be a part of this wonderful community. When I started blogging, it was at the suggestion of my then teaching assistant (who I am proud to now call a colleague) who told me blogging was much cooler than discussion boards on Blackboard. As it turns out, I really like blogging. But, I think, one of the reasons that I enjoy it so much is this site and this community–a fantastic group of readers and commenters.

As for me, my future is a lot less clear. For the next year I’ll be at State. AAAS Fellowships come with an option to renew for a second year, and that is a very real possibility for me. As loyal readers know, I have mixed feelings about our field and profession. I loved my time as a scholar and professor. But, I did so from a non-tenure track position, working on yearly contracts and picking up an administrative job to maintain my position. I enter the policy world without a spot in the academy waiting for me to return. At this point, I can honestly say that I have no idea where I will go once this fellowship ends. That’s scary, but also exciting.

So, goodbye. For now at least.