Author: Josh Busby (Page 1 of 22)

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.

Life in the Time of COVID: Planning for Non-Adherence

This is a guest post from Tana Johnson, an Associate Professor of Public Affairs and Political Science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  Her publications include the book Organizational Progeny: Why Governments Are Losing Control over the Proliferating Structures of Global Governance.

Options Beyond Border Closures

One of the numerous ways in which the world’s response to COVID has been problematic involves border closures.  As the novel coronavirus spread in spring 2020, more than 130 countries restricted international travel and border-crossing.  Some prevented entry by foreigners from specific countries, or by foreigners generally.  Others used blanket policies, preventing entry even by a country’s own citizens or permanent residents.

The continued pandemic makes it difficult to obtain complete and precise results, but preliminary studies issue several warnings about border closures.  For one thing, they do provide relief, but also should be supplemented by measures such as early detection, handwashing, self-isolation, and household quarantine.  Furthermore, border closures are costly: lockdown and other drastic measures may have been effective from a public health standpoint, but they also hurt societies, economies, and the humanitarian response system. Moreover, border closures may be illegal.  The “right of return” to one’s home country is enshrined in at least four regional or global treaties.  These treaties do contain some language allowing exceptions – but states that closed their borders during the initial months of the COVID pandemic rarely followed the treaties’ procedures, and therefore they’ve opened themselves to litigation in human rights courts.

If border closures are stopgaps that are costly and potentially illegal, then countries must explore additional options for dealing with infectious diseases.  During the COVID pandemic, such exploration has included mask mandates, prohibitions on large gatherings, restrictions on refugee processing, mass vaccination, immunity passports, and others.  Despite the variety of measures, however, exploration for each distills to two steps: 1) determine the policy, and 2) persuade people to follow it. 

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Actorless Threats

This is a guest post from Morgan D. Bazilian, Director of the Payne Institute, Colorado School of Mines; Andreas Goldthau, Franz Haniel Professor at the Willy Brandt School of Public Policy, and Research Group Leader at the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies; and Kirsten Westphal, a Senior Analyst at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs. They tweet at @mbazilian, @goldthau and @kirstenwestpha1.

The age of actorless threats has arrived. Democracies need to re-imagine and re-tool their responses.

This is an age of the “actorless threats”. As Bazilian and Hendrix argued in a recent essay, “Mitigating or adapting to slow-onset, actorless threats like climate change…requires a reimagining of our national security priorities and architecture.” Climate change gives rise to cascading risks of habitat destruction, infectious disease outbreaks or biodiversity loss. These threats have already started to cause loss of life at significant scales. They have added friction to various aspects of geopolitics and the relationship between states and people. And they have put existing systems to their breaking point.

Such threats are not bound to a certain territory, but rather transcend borders and boundaries. They tend to threaten entire societal systems, with important second order effects for political or economic stability. They can be diffuse and long-term in impact. These traits vary between these threats, but these common archetypes often mean that cooperation is the only way to address them successfully. Actorless threats also do not lend themselves easily to specific current government departments or agencies, but rather require cooperation across government. And they are almost certain to become more prominent going forward, rather than less, exacerbating secondary effects.

The idea of non-traditional security threats is not new. Some of the defining terms include their transnational character. They are also typically conducted by non-state actors, rooted in social or cultural issues, and not bound to a specific territory. Non-traditional security threats do not only come with significant costs, which the Stern Report highlighted for the case of climate change already fifteen years ago. Because the global economy is deeply interconnected they also trigger cascading effects into other sectors and states. A well-known example here is a bursting real estate bubble spiraling into an international banking crisis.

Actorless threats display similar features, they are also man-made. Yet, their causality chain is even less traceable, immediate and direct. There also is a lag in time and space with regard to cause and effect. Think about climate change and pandemics. They come with tipping points which elude direct influence and are not gradually controllable. The melting of the permafrost, the slowing down of the jet stream, the spreading of zoonoses and virus mutations are not only transcending borders and boundaries. They transcend habitats, communities and generations. For example, the melting of the permafrost has given rise to the risk of anthrax transmission.

Non-traditional threats have questioned the territory as a principle of political order. New actorless threats go to the heart of our way of life and its underlying paradigms of growth and prosperity. They shake-up the fundaments of modern economies and societies. They relentlessly reveal that mankind has been living beyond planetary boundaries.

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Are Women Leaders Better at Fighting COVID?

This is a guest post from Courtney Burns and Leah Windsor. Burns is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at Bucknell University. She may be reached at cnb006@bucknell.edu.

Windsor is a Research Assistant Professor in the Institute for Intelligent Systems and a Faculty Affiliate in the Department of Political Science at The University of Memphis. She may be reached at Leah.Windsor@memphis.edu and on Twitter @leahcwindsor.

Early in the Covid-19 pandemic, worldwide media heralded the leadership of women leaders like Jacinda Ardern and Erna Solberg for their ability to contain the spread of the virus, and the lethality within their countries’ borders. The common belief was that having a woman in charge was the key to reducing mortality from Covid-19.

This perception squares with pervasive gendered stereotypes about women being better caretakers and more compassionate – qualities that should be more important during a time when the world is sick, and quickly getting sicker. Yet this is not entirely the case.

We find that a country’s culture influences how many people within its borders die from Covid-19.

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Remembrances from Sean Kay’s Students

This is the fifth in our series of remembrances on the life of Sean Kay. This post is from 15 of his former students. May way we all have the good fortune to shape the lives of students in the way Sean did. We will all miss you brother.

Kemi George ‘01

The loss of Dr. Kay has broken my heart, as it has so many other people. I only wish I could put into words how much this loss hurts and how much Doc (sorry Sean, but you’ll always be “Doc” to me), but I fear I can only manage a pale approximation. As all of his students know, he exemplified everything you could want in a professor. I remember so clearly his energy and commitment to all of us in his classes, and the way he could make his courses come alive. Even now, almost two decades later, I remember going on two field trips for Model UN, with Doc as our combination coach and chaperone. On the bus from Ohio to New York, he would talk about music (Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young was a favorite topic, especially given our state of residence at the time), alternated with stories of slapstick humor about his time doing research on NATO. He somehow had the time and energy to make a personal connection with all of us in ways that, now that I myself am a professor, I am genuinely amazed by.

As a mentor and friend, he was irreplaceable. I know that he was a constant source of encouragement for me, and for others in the class of ’01 and ’02, and I honestly would not be where I am today without Doc’s continual support over the decades. My heart goes out to his family and friends. I wish I could see him again.

Carrie Wilkie ‘01

I took my first course with Sean Kay the semester after I changed my major to Politics & Government, which also happened to be his first semester teaching at OWU. I had struggled a bit to find my “home” in my studies after thinking I had it all figured out, as most of us think we do at eighteen. I was fairly confident in my choice with P&G, but that first course with Sean solidified my decision. It could be the fresh new approach he brought to his classes, or the approachability he brought to campus, but something about Sean’s nature simply clicked.

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Sean Kay Memorial

This is a guest post from Randall Schweller, Professor of Political Science at The Ohio State University and author of Maxwell’s Demon and the Golden Apple. This is the fourth post in our remembrance series on Sean Kay.

Sean and I shared two passions: international relations and the Grateful Dead. From the mid-1970s to early 1980s, I was the “Jerry Garcia” in a Grateful Dead cover band called Timberwolf that played in the tri-state area. Our keyboardist, Rob Barroco, later joined the Dead and Phil Lesh and Friends. Sean knew the Grateful Dead and hooked me back up with Rob Barroco in 2012, thirty years after I’d last seen him.

As a musician, Sean studied the guitar style of Bob Weir, the Grateful Dead’s rhythm guitarist. When I met Sean, he immediately proposed that we get together and jam, but for years we didn’t have a good reason to do so. 

Finally, when Sean told me that he was giving a talk at the Mershon Center on his book, Rocking the Free World, we both thought—okay, this is the perfect time to finally get together and rehearse a mini-set for a “captive” audience. He came down from Delaware to my house in Columbus, and we hastily threw together some songs. Our lack of practice shows in the performance, but I’ve never once had regrets. As Jerry Garcia preached, music, like life itself, must take risks and be in the moment, otherwise it’s lifeless and boring.    

Arguably the best bridge ever written—certainly in the repertoire of Grateful Dead songs—appears in “Black Peter,” a song about a boy on his deathbed:

See here how everything

Lead up to this day

And it’s just like any other day

That’s ever been

Sun going up and then

The sun going down

Shine through my window

And my friends they come around

Come around, come around

Our lives are composed of cumulative experiences that lead to the present moment. The day of our death is merely one more day in an eternally recurring series of days—every day mostly just like the one before and after it.  As the speaker in the biblical book of Ecclesiastes tells us:

The sun rises and the sun sets, and hurries back to where it rises. The wind blows to the south and turns to the north; round and round it goes, ever returning on its course….What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.

Viewed in these stark terms, the world appears monstrous, our lives meaningless, reality an appalling afront to the vanity of human existence. How could the birds continue to sing at Auschwitz when the world seemed too horrible and sad for such simple moments of beauty? This is how I felt when I heard the news of Sean’s death. How could the birds sing and the sun shine when such a gentle, kind, beautiful soul was gone? How could the world continue to go on as if nothing had changed?

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Remembering Sean Kay

This is a guest post from Sahar Khan, an editor at Inkstick and adjunct fellow of Defense and Foreign Policy at the Cato Institute. She tweets at @khansahar1.  This is the third post in our remembrance series honoring the life of Sean Kay.

My cousin is a sophomore at Ohio Wesleyan University, and on November 13, 2020 she texted me, “I’m so sorry about Sean Kay.” Sorry? For what? Then she told me that he had passed away and forwarded me the email that the president of Ohio Wesleyan University had sent to the community that morning. I was in utter disbelief and couldn’t think of what to do except forward that email to Ahsan. As Ahsan and I spoke that day, shrouded in a cloud of disbelief, I kept thinking: how do you thank a professor like Dr. Kay?

I arrived at Ohio Wesleyan in the fall of 2002, ready to embrace my newfound independence and American life. I had envisioned my college life to be what I saw in Hollywood movies: full of friends, parties, easy classes, and cool places to hang out in. But reality was quite different and I felt kind of lost — and invisible. I had wanted to do pre-law and psychology but wasn’t sure anymore. I loved politics but didn’t really think of it as a practical field.

So, I ended up in Dr. Kay’s “Global Issues” class my second semester because I needed another class, and I figured reading political stuff would be fun. But that class — and Dr. Kay — changed my life. He made politics come alive. His lectures were like long conversations that were rich, passionate, insightful, and thought-provoking. I changed my major to International Studies that very semester, and took all of his classes like so many IS majors.

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Tribute to Sean Kay

Sean Kay, a much beloved international relations professor at Ohio Wesleyan, died suddenly of a heart attack in November. Though I blogged about Sean in December, we will be publishing a series of memorials to Sean from former students and colleagues over the remainder of this week.

The post below is a guest post from Ahsan Butt, an Associate Professor at the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University and a nonresident fellow at the Stimson Center.

Even two months after his death, Sean Kay’s passing still feels shocking. Sean was a vivacious, larger than life presence, and only 53 when he died. Just a couple of months before he passed, he wrote to Sahar and me, and mentioned, among other things, a stress-related medical scare earlier this year. But he indicated nothing especially serious or life-threatening. When Sahar emailed me that awful November morning, time froze. I could only greet the news with the word “What” said in different inflections, at different volumes, with different punctuation marks.

Sean was an absolute gem of a human being. I knew few people like him, in our profession or outside. Being an IR scholar was, in many ways, the least interesting thing about him. He was a dedicated family man, one who took the institutions of neighborhood, community, and town very seriously. He was an avid producer and consumer of music, playing regular shows in Delaware bars, collecting mountains of records – most reliably American or British rock bands whose heyday was the 60s or 70s – and writing a well-received book on the influence of rock on politics.

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Gone Missing from Grand Strategy: Climate Change

This is a guest post from Jeff Colgan, Richard Holbrooke Associate Professor of Political Science and Director of the Climate Solutions Lab at Brown University. He is author of Petro-Aggression: When Oil Causes War, and tweets @JeffDColgan

A slew of new books on grand strategy and international order signal the renaissance these topics are enjoying among scholars. Alas, most of the current thinking does not pay nearly enough attention to climate change—the world’s most important global challenge. Specifically, we are not thinking hard enough about the tradeoffs states face while pursuing the three goals of peace, prosperity, and climate sustainability. 

Is Climate Really a Security Danger?

Treating a climate strategy as an optional feature of international order—a nice-to-have bonus—is no basis for any wise foreign policy analysis or advice about today’s global order. As Josh Busby points out, climate change is entirely different in kind from previous environmental concerns like saving the whales. He adds elsewhere that we need to get “beyond internal conflict” – i.e., thinking about climate change as a driver of civil wars – to thinking big about how climate change will increasingly reshape national and global security.

He is not alone. Erin Sikorsky argues for incorporating climate into threat analysis. Chuks Okereke has written about climate justice for years. Bruce Jentleson argues that climate change poses a first-order threat to the survival, health, and prosperity of the whole human species. Massively dangerous on its own, it also contributes to various additional threats, like future pandemics, loss of biodiversity, and (as Cullen Hendrix and Steph Haggard point out) food insecurity.

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Fare thee Well Sean Kay


I opened up my twitter feed two weeks ago to some terrible news: our friend Sean Kay died suddenly. I literally cried out “Oh no” and wept for my friend. I had just guested in his class in October, and we had a number of conversations in recent months in the lead up to the election. We were both looking forward to a better future. The news of Sean’s death was just another reminder that 2020 has been truly awful.

Many knew Sean through his scholarship and policy work on NATO. I got to know him over the last few years through our common interests in music and love for the environment.

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America’s Democratic Shortcomings and the “Liberal International Order”

This is a guest post from Manuel Reinert, a PhD candidate in international relations at American University and consultant with the World Bank.

As the COVID-19 crisis illustrates, international cooperation is crucial to address global issues. International organizations (IOs), created in the so-called rules-based “liberal international order” (LIO) after WWII, have been extensively involved in the response. The United Nations (UN) launched a global humanitarian response plan. UN’s agencies, principally the World Health Organization (WHO), have provided worldwide data, guidelines, and technical support. The World Bank deployed fast-track financing for pandemic-related challenges in emerging economies and approved a coronavirus vaccine financing plan, and the International Monetary Fund made its $1 trillion lending capacity available to member-states.

Multilateralism nevertheless failed in many ways. The G20 and G7 hardly offered a unified front and the WHO’s response was heavily criticized. In particular, the United States (US) accused the WHO of covering up the initial epidemic at China’s behest. The feud culminated with the suspension of US funding and announcement of complete withdrawal. Hindsight allows for evaluations of the strengths and weaknesses of the WHO’s response. Like other IOs, the WHO has modest resources for a broad mandate: its competency depends on the leverage member states leave it and how much politics they play. In fact, China’s growing influence within this organization is linked to the recent US disinterest in IOs. Multilateralism is not perfect but remains essential to manage such crises, not to mention critical global challenges such as climate change.

According to its proponents, the LIO is organized under guiding principles, including: multilateral institutions, open markets, liberal democracy, and leadership by the US. Liberal internationalists denounce the rise of authoritarian powers and receding democratic values to explain the decay of these principles. They also blame Donald Trump for deserting the LIO leadership. Under his administration, the US has indeed abandoned major international accords such as the Paris Agreement on climate and the Iran nuclear deal (JCPOA), blasted the role of IOs, and adopted an aggressive diplomacy, apart from some notable exceptions. Consequently, numerous analyses have been announcing the ‘twilight’ of the LIO and preparing for what comes next. Others have claimed that this order was doomed to fail, while the eternal debate on American involvement in world affairs is regularly reignited.

Most of these analyses are missing two important components. First, they attribute the demise of the LIO to external factors and a strategically flawed foreign policy, while failing to see that such weakening is directly linked to America’s democratic shortcomings. The Trump presidency is the symptom of institutional dysfunctions that make the US less democratic. This decline is the result of rigid institutions that disproportionately favor a conservative minority.

Second, they negate the extent to which the US has used this order and escaped its rules when convenient. America has a history of ambiguity towards multilateralism: even if Donald Trump took the subversion of rules-based institutions to a new level, the trend did not start with him. The conservative minority has regularly eroded the LIO foundations. Ultimately, America’s ability to improve democracy will be decisive to advance multilateralism and a genuinely rules-based international system.

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COVID: An Extraordinary Crisis, but Ordinary Political Patterns

This is a guest post from Tana Johnson, an Associate Professor of Public Affairs and Political Science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  Her publications include the book Organizational Progeny: Why Governments Are Losing Control over the Proliferating Structures of Global Governance.

COVID-19, which disregards national borders and threatens all countries, is a “problem without a passport.”  The usual prescription is to 1) work through international organizations (IOs), 2) collaborate on collective long-term solutions, and 3) defer to experts.  Yet in 2020, countries defied each prescription, producing three patterns.

Patterns: IOs, Interests, and Experts

Pattern #1 is the tendency to blame international organizations, particularly the World Health Organization (WHO).  With its drastic decision to cut off funding and intended withdrawal from the World Health Organization, the U.S. government has been an aggressive critic.  But more than 100 countries also endorsed the European Union’s call for an independent investigation into the WHO’s handling of the disease. 

Pattern #2 is the temptation to put short-term or narrow interests above longer-term or broader ones.  During the crisis’ initial months, dozens of countries implemented export restrictions, travel bans, and unilateral vaccine development – all despite the World Health Organization’s objections. 

Pattern #3 is a divided reaction to experts.  Schisms have arisen at the subnational, national, and international levels.  Some people have readily deferred to public health officials – but other people have challenged them, questioning the efficacy or legality of their recommendations.

Why, in the midst of a pandemic, would governments question or punish the very IO that’s supposed to guide the world’s response?  Since this disease is a shared threat and can’t be defeated instantaneously, why aren’t countries concentrating on what would be useful for the larger international community, well into the future?  And why, in a crisis of public health, is anyone refusing to follow public health experts?  Work in International Relations (IR) dispels the mystery – and shows that although the pandemic may be extraordinary, its political patterns are quite ordinary.

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COVID and Fed Legitimacy

This is a guest post from Walter James, a PhD candidate in the Department of Political Science at Temple University with an interest in comparative political economy of financial regulation.

The Federal Reserve has stood as a bulwark between COVID-19 and another Great Depression in the United States. But it must tread carefully to maintain its reputation and legitimacy once the crisis passes.

Since COVID’s arrival in the United States, the Fed has acted with unprecedented speed by cutting its federal funds rate to close to 0%, purchasing massive amounts of securities, providing dollar liquidity to other central banks through international swap lines, and establishing lending programs for both Wall Street and Main Street as well as to state and municipal governments. Just in the last six months, the century-old central bank has flexed all of its monetary, regulatory and lending muscles at its disposal and acquired new ones along the way.

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On Publishing and Open Access

Recently, I was asked by an interdisciplinary journal to edit a special section on climate governance, and I inquired whether it was an open access journal where authors have to pay to publish. It is, and I declined because asking others to contribute to a special issue that they then have to pay to publish in strikes me as unseemly. I’m pretty uncomfortable with this model of publishing, but I dislike the existing paywall mafia too.

Pay to Publish?
This is the third time I’ve had open access fees come up in the process of publishing in journals in the energy/science policy space. The other two were surprises where a journal changed to an open access pay model in the middle of publishing and the other was one where I joined an author team to a new journal that I didn’t look in to. In the other cases, the fee was waived or my co-authors had some way to have the fees paid. This model of pay to publish I think is more prevalent in the sciences.

I understand the desire to make work available to people without a paywall. I also respect the desire to defray the costs for authors in the global South with fee waivers, but it is not easy, even for someone like me at an R1, to come up with $1000 or more to publish a paper. For one, I’ve never done it, and I don’t have a reservoir of money to pay publication fees. If you publish several articles a year and they are open access, these costs would add up.

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Visualizing the Gender Publication Gap: 1999-2019

This is a guest post from Laura Breen, a PhD student with research interests in international law, global governance, and emerging technology; Gaea Morales, a PhD student with research interests in environmental security and global-local linkages; Joseph Saraceno, a PhD candidate with research interests in political institutions and quantitative methodology; and Kayla Wolf, a PhD student with research interests in gender, politics, and political socialization. All are completing the PhD program in Political Science and International Relations at the University of Southern California.

It’s not news that political science has a gender problem. This blog has multiple entries on the gender gap, and anyone who spends 20 minutes on academic twitter or at a grad student happy hour is likely to encounter firsthand accounts of the effects of the gender gap. If firsthand accounts aren’t enough, there’s plenty of excellent peer reviewed reviewed work showing that the phenomenon exists, including Maliniak et al.’s finding that women are “systematically cited less than men” in IR, Dawn Langan Teele and Kathleen Thelen’s 2017 article that found a comparable gap even when accounting for women’s share of the profession.

A common talking point about the gender gap in political science is that things have been getting better, and the gender balance in publications will steadily even out over time as gender disparities in society are minimized and the number of women in the profession grows. In short: we are approaching parity, all it takes is time. However, for many scholars, and particularly women in political science, this narrative of progress conflicts with lived experience and observations of who (and what) we see published in top journals.

The Data

As part of a simple data visualization project gone off the rails, we gathered four years of data to see whether the optimistic belief that things are really getting better bears out empirically. We were particularly interested in the years since the last comprehensive examination of gendered political science publication rates.

Building on the dataset Teele and Thelen created to examine gendered publication rates across ten journals from 1999-2015, we hand coded author gender and order for all articles across the original journals examined in their article for the years 2016 to 2019. These included Journal of Politics, American Political Science Review, Comparative Politics (CP), International Organization, Comparative Political Studies, Journal of Conflict Research (JCR), Perspectives on Politics, Political Theory, and World Politics. To collect author gender for the years 2016 onwards, we coded gender based on pronouns used in personal website and department biographies.

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Meet Our Guest Ducks (Again)

With the coronavirus, it has been hard for many of us to just keep going, let alone set aside time to blog (certainly not as much as we otherwise might!).

So, we wanted to acknowledge that by giving our guest Ducks from last year an additional semester (at least!) to have this platform for talking about substantive issues in international relations and the academy.

We are thrilled that folks have stayed on. Please read their work to date and be on the lookout for new posts. There are some really good ones on a range of topics. If you have an interest in becoming a guest contributor come January, let any of the permanent members know!

The Current Guest Contributors to the Duck of Minerva

Bridging the Gap
Meg K. Guliford
Anne Harrington ⚑ 
Cullen Hendrix
Peter Henne 
Luke Perez 
Alexandra Stark
Ajay Verghese

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Teaching Race and International Politics: Notes from a Canadian Classroom

Eric Van Rythoven (PhD) is an Instructor in the Department of Political Science at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada.  His research focuses on the intersection between the politics of emotion, International Relations, and security.  His articles have been published in the Journal of Global Security Studies, the European Journal of International Relations, Security Dialogue, among others and he is the co-editor (with Mira Sucharov) of Methodology and Emotion in International Relations (Routledge, 2019).  You can learn more about his research and writing at his website.

This is the fourth post in our series on Race&IR.

How should we approach discussions of race and racism in the classroom? Increasingly, issues of race are receiving more attention in the field of IR.  Whether it is through a series of high-profile articles discussing why race matters in IR, or why the field remains blind to racism, debates about race and racism are taking a more prominent place in the field.  Yet comparatively less attention has been given  to how to teach race in the classroom.  This mirrors broader patterns of intellectual life in IR where the “published discipline” dominates scholarly attention and the “taught discipline” appears as an afterthought (Ettinger, 2020).  But if we take calls to think about the taught discipline seriously, how then should we approach teaching race in the classroom?

This post contributes to the conversation by discussing the results from a brief survey on student views on teaching race and international politics in a Canadian classroom.  The survey (n=100) was supported through Carleton University’s Students as Partners Program (SaPP) where faculty can offer paid experience to undergraduate students to help develop curriculum and teaching resources.  Respondents were primarily students from IR courses, but also included those studying Canadian Foreign Policy. 

As part of our project we wanted to hear students’ views on teaching race in the classroom, including what topics they are interested in learning about, as well as what they see as some of the barriers to learning.  Situated in a diverse city in a unique national context, it is important to caution against generalizations. Yet in what follows we highlight some of the main findings and bring them into dialogue with the broader pedagogy literature on race and IR.

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Renewable or Sustainable? Green Energy Is More Complicated Than You Think

Jen Evans (Twitter: @Jen_L_Evans) is a PhD student at the University of Denver’s Josef Korbel School of International Studies and a Project Lead at the Frederick S. Pardee Center for International Futures. Her research focuses on resource rights, cooperation, and conflict.

On 30 June, House Democrats released a climate plan aimed at eliminating the U.S. economy’s greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. The plan mandates sweeping shifts towards clean and renewable energy, with U.S. automakers transitioning to solely electric vehicle production and electric utility providers operating as net-zero emitters, all in the name of making America’s economy more sustainable.

The plan unveiled by Democratic policymakers follows widespread public support for renewable energy. Some 70% of consumers believe that, in the near future, 100% of electricity should be produced via renewable sources such as solar, wind, and hydropower. More than half of consumers are willing to increase their electric bills by 30% just to facilitate this transition. And corporations have been quick to jump on the renewable energy bandwagon, with 71 of the Fortune 100 companies having published sustainability targets as of 2017.

The case for renewables

Renewable energy proclaims to do everything from creating jobs to reducing dependency on imports. The main benefit of renewable energy, though, lies in its apparent ability to replace the burning of fossil fuels, which currently accounts for 62% of electricity production and 95% of transportation sector power in the United States. The damage and risk associated with this longtime dependency on fossil fuels is significant and potentially catastrophic. In addition to the well-documented impact of fossil fuels on climate change, the use of fossil fuels contributes to environmental degradation associated with the surface mining of coal, health and environmental risks of drilling for oil and natural gas, and economic and foreign policy implications related to reliance on oil imports that are often sourced from unstable regions at high risk of conflict.

It would appear, then, that renewable energy represents a comprehensive solution not only to carbon emissions associated with the burning of fossil fuels, but also to many environmental, economic, and security concerns related to extracting traditional energy resources. Yet, in discussing the many benefits of renewable energy, we often disregard a critical element: Our flashy devices, the factories that manufacture them, and the vehicles that deliver them to us do not inherently absorb the sun’s rays and spring to electrified life. Rather, producing accessible renewable energy requires technologies such as solar panels and wind turbines; technologies that are constructed using familiarly controversial extraction processes.

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We all suffer if the field is parochial

David C. Kang is Maria Crutcher Professor of International Relations at the University of Southern California, where he also directs the Korean Studies Institute. His latest book, coedited with Stephan Haggard, East Asia in the World: Twelve Events that Shaped the Modern International Order, will be published Cambridge University Press next month.

This summer, the graduate students in our Ph.D. program here at USC, and the undergraduates as well, called for an end to the Eurocentric curriculum in our department. They noted that there are twice as many classes devoted to Europe as there are to any other region of the world; if we add in classes on American politics, there are easily 3x as many classes.

I absolutely support our students in their call to be aware of a Eurocentric curriculum and scholarship, and to our colleagues to think much more widely about, and be open to, ideas and cases that might be much more vivid and lively than they suspect, and have much more to teach us than we originally thought.

In this case, what’s politically important and socially conscious is also scientifically sound. The basic problem of Eurocentric scholarship is selection bias — If we care about social science, and if we want to understand anything about the world, we need to define concepts in generalizable ways. We all suffer if the field is parochial: our concepts are narrow, our cases are truncated, and the true richness and possibility of what international relations actually is can be overlooked.

I want to point out what that means in practice using three examples. I will conclude this post with a few possibilities for both young scholars, and the way we pursue research and publish.

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U.S. Political Scientists Must Work To Support Free and Fair Democratic Elections

This is a guest post by Jeffrey C. Isaac, James H. Rudy Professor of Political Science at Indiana University, Bloomington. You can follow him at his blog at Democracy in Dark Times.

Democracy is a central and arguably the central theme of contemporary American political science research and teaching. This is certainly true in the “subfields” conventionally designated as “Comparative Politics,” “American Politics,” and “Political Theory.” And even where it is not the central theme, as in most “International Relations” inquiry, it is an important theme.

By far the most broadly influential endeavor in U.S. political science—the teaching of “Introduction to American Politics,” a staple of undergraduate teaching at virtually every academic institution in the U.S.—centers on the dynamics of the U.S. political system, the nature of its constitutional democracy, and the complex dynamics of public opinion, party organization, political campaigning and competitive elections.

Most of this teaching is not emphatically normative. But it is normative nonetheless, as a perusal of most syllabi or prominent textbooks will attest. The 2015 Brief Edition of Keeping the Republic: Power and Citizenship in American Politics, written by Christine Barbour and Gerald C. Wright, for example, leads with a chapter on “Power and Citizenship in American Politics” that centers on the distinction between liberal democracy and authoritarianism. Without some such discussion, what sense is to be made of American political institutions?

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Indonesia’s Half-hearted Response to COVID-19: The Role of Politics and Historical Legacies

This is a guest post from Alexander R Arifianto (Twitter: @DrAlexArifianto), a Research Fellow with S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. His research focuses on contemporary domestic politics and political Islam in Indonesia.

Nearly six months after the first case of coronavirus was first diagnosed in Indonesia, the country is in the midst of its largest public health crisis in history. As of August 3rd, about 113,000 Indonesians are confirmed to be infected and 5,300 have died from the illness. Indonesia is currently ranked the 23rd country with the most COVID-19 cases worldwide. A model developed by Sulfikar Amir, a sociologist based at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, predicts COVID-19 cases in Indonesia will reach 200,000 cases over the next two months.

Source: Sulfikar Amir

Indonesia’s 270 million population marks it as is the fourth largest country in the world measured by population size. It is also the largest Muslim-majority country and the world’s third largest democracy. Lastly, it is the largest economy in Southeast Asia and is widely considered as a rising middle power in Asia. In a region where most countries have managed to mitigate the pandemic – with varying success rates – Indonesia’s failure to effectively contain the virus is puzzling to international observers.

In this post, I argue that Indonesia’s lackadaisical and half-hearted pandemic response has its roots in its pre-existing historical legacy that affects how Indonesian policymakers formulate their COVID-19 mitigation policy. These include an incompetent yet insulated bureaucracy that does not value policy advice from external experts and a power-sharing arrangement among members of its political elite that emphasizes short-term political calculations over taking coherent, coordinated, and decisive actions.

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