Tag: APSA (Page 1 of 2)

The Academic Arrogant Self-Important Snooty Quiz

As I was traveling back from APSA on Sunday, I completed all of the journal reviews that I had on my desk, ran some regressions for new projects, and then completed all the revisions my coauthors are requesting from me currently.[1]  With the remaining few hours I had on the flight, I noticed a Cosmo magazine[2] in the seat-pocket next to me and quickly went to work finding out what kind of female I am and how much I really know about Beyonce.  The quizzes got me thinking: we don’t have a lot of personality quizzes for us as academics but – based on my participant observations at this past APSA – we really need some.

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APSA Fire Update

Well, the main APSA hotel at the Marriott last night caught fire last night in what might be an act of arson, but we really don’t know. For those of us staying at the Marriott, we awoke at 1am to alarms and recorded messages to evacuate the building. We stayed outside until around 4:30 or 5am when we were allowed to go back in to the lobby. Sheets were handed out, and people splayed out as you see in the picture above. Looked like we were going to be able to go back to the rooms at 6am but we weren’t able to get back into our rooms until 8am.

Panels in the Marriott were originally cancelled until noon but now, it looks like things are back on as of 9:30am, Saturday August 30th.

I haven’t heard if anyone was hurt. There was some smoke, and a few pictures on Twitter of fire and sprinkler damage. Stay safe everybody and get some sleep. Charli, looks like you made the right call!


A Networking Post Inspired by Networking

So, I ran into Dan Drezner in the trendy-food part of the West Loop in Chicago tonight, as you do when you are at APSA. Dan asked if I was planning to respond to his post on networking, which is critical of my earlier post. Honestly, it was not high on my agenda, but who can resist networking as a motivation to write a post on networking?

In my post, I suggest that networking can have efficiency, career opportunity, and political benefits, with the caveat that it is not easy, does not always come naturally, and can actually be harmful if it goes awry. Dan suggests that neither myself nor Christian Davenport address the pitfalls of bad networking along with the benefits of good networking, and asks me to follow up with particular practical advice (and on my unfortunate description of “ah, the stories I could tell” about networking gone wrong).

While I will resist telling my own horror stories, I will take the bait to provide some skeleton advice that I’ve learned over the years – some from my experience, some from others’; some ‘the easy way,’ some ‘the hard way.’

So here are my humble ‘do’ and ‘don’t’ suggestions …  Continue reading


Studying Non-Governmental Organizations: What International Relations and Public Management Bring to the Table

In my grad class every semester, I always ask the students if IR is really the best field for studying human security.  Undoubtedly, I get some students who respond that political science is the best discipline and IR is the best field – or even the only field – to really study human security. However, I usually also get a large minority of the students who acknowledge off the bat that most of the phenomena we study could be similarly examined in other social sciences or  –gasp!– could even be looked at by people in the humanities.

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The Glass Half Empty: Gendered Problems in Academic Networking

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Sara McLaughlin Mitchell, Professor and Department Chair of Political Science at the University of Iowa. It is Part 1 of a 2-part discussion. 

Many recent posts (e.g., posts here by David Lake, Dan Nexon, and Laura Sjoberg, and elsewhere by Christian Davenport and Steve Saideman) have discussed professional networking in political science.  Given my belief that academic experiences are not universal, a viewpoint articulated by Will Moore (https://willopines.wordpress.com/2013/08/17/some-dimensions-over-which-the-return-to-networking-is-not-uniform/), I add another perspective to this debate.  I focus on several problems female scholars might encounter in male dominated academic environments, especially as they try to become professionally networked into these groups. In so doing, I draw largely on my experiences at conferences I have attended frequently, including APSA, ISA, Peace Science Society, and the Society for Political Methodology. Gendered problems include:

1) Working hard to find people who look like you

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APSA Aerobics

It’s almost APSA time and it seems all my friends are busy planning really wonderful sporting engagements for times they aren’t in panels.  This always puts me in a bind – I thought we became academics because we were bad at sports!  I can’t throw a Frisbee and soccer requires too much coordination.  So, I’ve compiled a list of the fun and somewhat aerobic things I plan to do at APSA, none of which require much coordination but all of which provide some thrill if carried out correctly:

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The First Casualty of the National Science Foundation Funding Cut for Political Science


If you belong to APSA, you probably got the email announcing the last-minute closure of the Ralph Bunche Summer Institute because of the Coburn (left) amendment. Undergraduate programming like this is obviously pretty vulnerable. It doesn’t have the cachet of high-profile, ‘big think’ research. But it does obviously endanger the discipline in the long-term by cutting into our future replacements (almost certainly one purpose of the amendment). It would be no surprise if some of this summer’s bright students got turned off our discipline because of these shenanigans, or missed a seminar or session this summer that might have helped them nail-down a good research question and so on. In brief, this cut is the real deal after years of GOP threats to our discipline, and that sucks.

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For First Time APSA Annual Convention to be Held in Africa

“All the fake news that’s fit to print”
 –Washington, DC
The valets at the Kinchasa Hilton will be happy to take your bags.

The American Political Science Association announced today that it will hold its 2013 annual meeting in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. After being criticized for its belated cancellation of this year’s convention in New Orleans on account of Hurricane Isaac, the organization’s leadership was looking for a site that would provide fewer potential headaches. APSA President G. Bingham Powell told reporters, “We have been assured that there is 0% chance of a hurricane hitting the Congo on Labor Day, or as they call it here, Mubutu Assassination Day. Curiously they celebrate the same way, by taking a three day weekend. What could go wrong?”

Extreme weather has made it increasingly difficult to plan APSA’s convention. Terrible droughts have rendered the West unsafe due to fires. Global warming has raised the temperature too high for Atlanta. San Francisco is always at risk of an earthquake. Washington, DC, in Powell’s words, “sucks.” That leaves other options only outside the country. “Honestly,” he said, “New Orleans in hurricane season looked like our best bet. Live and learn.”

In 2010, APSA held its annual convention just outside of U.S. lines, in neighboring Toronto. Political scientists tell reporters that this is the capital of Canada. The Toronto conference was a great success as attendees remarked on the great warmth and friendliness of their neighbors north of the border. From here, sources say, it was a natural choice to expand APSA into newer markets. Powell said, “There is no reason to restrict the APSA brand to the United States. We hope to show young Congolese boys and girls that if they work hard and apply themselves, maybe one day they can present at one these conferences, too. Plus we got a great rate at the Kinchasa Hilton.”

However, APSA’s decision has met with criticism in some corners of the organization. A caucus of political scientists called “Perestroika” has circulated a letter condemning the holding of the conference in a poor African country as “neoimperialism.” “APSA, as always, is looking to take advantage of cheap underdeveloped country labor. Hotel employees at the Kinchasa Hilton will struggle to put food on the table for their families while Executive Committee fat cats will sip fruity drinks by the poolside for only $2 instead of the usual $15 at American convention venues. And the Congo denies basic human rights, like gay marriage. That is unacceptable in 21st century Africa.”

APSA officials had no comment but responded with their own press release: “APSA appreciates the values of cultural diversity. We can think of no better place to celebrate those virtues than this enormous country in the heart of Africa in which all tribes and nationalities mingle and live peacefully.”

Political scientists are nevertheless urged to prepare appropriately, stressing that students of Congress might be surprised that a different currency is used in the Congo than in the United States. It is recommended that all political scientists bring raw diamonds to avoid currency exchange fees and facilitate local transactions, such as ransom-paying.


#virtualapsa2012 Continued

With respect to my prior post….

In all seriousness, it would not be difficult to do the following:

  • Put up presentations as, say, 10 minute m4a files — straight audio, audio with slides added by hand, or audio-video derived from lecture-capture applications;
  • Post audio comments from discussants, their notes, or both;
  • Associate them all with a dedicated feed or feeds; and
  • Provide a place for listeners to comment on each virtual panel.

We could do this at the Duck. We could create a dedicated blog. We could impress upon APSA that this might make a worthwhile experiment and that they should host it. At the very least, I am happy to handle the logistics for a few trial panels or presentations myself. 


Virtual APSA? (updated)

I skipped APSA this year in favor of BISA/ISA. In fact, I haven’t renewed my membership this year.

Still, I wonder if we can’t make lemons out of lemonade.

How about a virtual APSA? If you are an IR/CP scholar who has bailed on APSA let us know (in comments) and consider posting an abstract of your presentation.

Heck, if there’s enough interest maybe people can make power points available for discussion.

UPDATE: it appears that virtual is the only option (I retain the lovely yellow from the apsanet.org site).

2012 APSA Annual Meeting Canceled President G. Bingham Powell announces the cancellation of the 2012 APSA Annual Meeting.  

A primary function of the association is to provide the highest quality meeting experience possible. In light of revised information we have from local officials about the trajectory of Isaac, we now anticipate the potential for sustained rain, flooding, power outages and severely restricted transportation into the city on Thursday. Under these circumstances, it is not prudent to convene the meeting. 

For attendees who are currently in New Orleans, please monitor weather bulletins and stay in touch with your hotel staff, who will provide the most accurate and timely information. 
For all attendees, we will provide additional refund information as soon as we are able. Please bear with us while we work with our vendors and local partners to provide you with detailed information. 

If you have further questions please call the APSA office and we will answer questions as best and expediently as we can.  

The decision to cancel the meeting was made in consultation with members from the APSA Administrative Committee, Executive Director Michael Brintnall, and planning staff in New Orleans. 

UPDATE 2: why “live tweet” APSA when you can just tweet #virtualapsa2012 ?

UPDATE 3: based on anon’s comments below, I’m thinking it might be worth it to do a trial of the concept. See my more recent post.


God of Tolerance Seeks Vengeance as APSA Short Courses Cancelled

THE CANARD “All the fake news that’s fit to print.”
 –New Orleans

The god of tolerance struck down with fury yesterday, unleashing a mighty hurricane headed for New Orleans that forced the American Political Science Association to cancel the first day of its annual conference. The organization had thumbed its nose at the god, choosing to convene their enormous meeting in a city that is in a state that discriminates against gays and lesbians by refusing them the right to marriage. Now it appears they will suffer the consequences. With its short courses shelved, a year’s worth of knowledge about introducing technology into the classroom and qualitative methodology will be lost.

The discipline’s theorists and post-positivists joined with the ten others in the field of 6,000 who take normative policy issues seriously to draft a statement. “For years, we have voiced our concerns that holding the annual convention in New Orleans, despite its historical affinity for bright costumes and overall fabulousness, is a tacit endorsement of Bobby Jindal’s intolerance for our LBGT brothers and sisters. While we wish to say, ‘we told you so,’ we actually did not of course because we are all atheists. But still, we appreciate the help. Thank you, god. By the way, should that be capitalized? We are really new at this.”

New Orleans residents are puzzled as to why they should be punished by the god for the sins of political scientists, when as a whole they are supportive of gay rights. They also expressed confusion, as the previous hurricane was said to have been retribution for the city’s cultural and sexual libertarianism. They fear they are being caught in the cross-fire between the god of tolerance and Jesus, who is said by some to not like gay people.

The American Political Science Association though remains undeterred. APSA president G. Bingham Powell issued a statement: “Our work will go on. We will rebuild. We reject any interference in our democratic right to hold our conference wherever we please. The god of tolerance cannot be allowed to restrict our precious freedom. This is a question of liberty.”

Escalation is expected. Theologists fear that if all the nation’s political scientists do not immediately leave the United States, whose federal law bans gay marriage, and pursue work in more egalitarian places such as Canada or Sweden, the god of  tolerance will strike next on San Francisco, reducing it to rubble, or at least forcing the political science association to cancel cocktails when it meets there in 2015.


The New Political Science Game

As the annual meeting of the American Political Science Association may face cancellation due to Hurricane Isaac, there is only one thing to do: wildly speculate how APSAHungerGames would play out in 2012.*  Spawned on twitter by @whinecough, an ABD (all but dissertation) on the job market, the idea is that in a hurricane-swept New Orleans, the APSA convention-goers must compete to survive.

* We honestly hope that all folks make it to and from New Orleans with the smallest amount of tribulations as we violate the classic comedic equation of pain plus time = funny.

The best line of the night, but the most inside baseball might be this one:

#APSA2012HungerGames Short break in carnage so everyone can agree that Thomas Friedman has no idea what he’s talking about.
— W. K. Winecoff (@whinecough) August 27, 2012


Ken Waltz thinks #APSA2012HungerGames wld be more peaceful if we gave *everyone* poison darts.
— W. K. Winecoff (@whinecough) August 27, 2012

While some would think the Neo-Realists would do well, since they focus on security or power (depending on the time of day), they might get distracted by blaming some heretofore ignored domestic actor for the policy failures.

Much of the money by the “sharps” in Vegas moved to favor the comparativists who have fieldwork experience and study contentious politics.  Will Reno, with much experience hanging out with warlords, working in places like Somalia, and known to have the biggest biceps in the profession, is currently the favorite at 4 to 1. But he does have some challenges as there is a whole new generation of hip kids who not only study insurgency and have done fieldwork in Afghanistan, but also have survived the worst academic job market in history.  And they do not lack confidence:

@texasinafrica @danatgu @smsaideman I have 2 kids under 2.5 years so I’ve been training for #APSA2012HungerGames for years. Reno is mine.
— Jason Lyall (@jaylyall_red5) August 27, 2012

The longest odds? Post-materialists.  They will find that in the Hunger Games that it is not so much the intersubjective meanings applied to arrows and bullets but the accuracy and power of the weapons launching them.  Blood may have all kinds of symbolism, but when it drains out of a post-modernist, the logic of consequences will dominate the logic of appropriateness.

Alas, the formal theorists will be killed first.  Why? Because they will have very difficult time getting their LaTex to work in all of the rain and wind.  Plus they will find that working on complicated appendixes is a dangerous distraction.

I am not going to the conference, so I can only grieve the losses and then participate in the next twenty years of study, where we fight about:

  • whether the games being played were chicken, stag hunt, prisoners’ dilemma, or deadlock;
  • whether the actors were pursuing relative or absolute gains;
  • whether the rational actor assumption is useful or appropriate (the Phil Arena fixation);
  • which element pop culture best describes the games, and, yes, many will argue against the conventional wisdom that the Hungar Games books best apply.  Indeed, Drezner-ites will insist that Zombie movies and books provide the most insights into APSAHungerGames 2012.  Somehow, Charli Carpenter will blame The Machines instead.
  • the scholars of civil war will debate about whether the Hunger really mattered, as grievances are over-rated. 

So, the bad news is that the profession may lose some of its best and its brightest in #APSA2012HungerGames.  On the bright side, the next job market might be a bit better and there will be new cottage industries of scholarship.


Occupy APSA? The Queer Rights Version

If you order from Cafe Press on Amazon, tshirts can get delivered by Tuesday – in time to tell APSA that, even if you’re going to the conference, you haven’t forgotten that APSA is wrong on this issue. Sorry for the late announcement – my to-do list got a little backed up …


Perspectives on Politics: Special New Orleans Issue

I am very happy to report that Melissa Harris-Perry just held up a copy of the new Perspectives on Politics on her MSNBC show and quoted me (!!) about “Post-Katrina New Orleans and the Politics of Reconstruction,” the theme of our new 10th anniversary issue!! The “play” she gave our journal on the air was greatly appreciated….

I believe that the current issue of Perspectives is the first issue in the history of APSA journals to be a special issue (at 300 pages!), timed to come out in advance of the annual meetings, to address a major issue linked to the meetings, in this case the site of the conference itself, a major city with huge practical and symbolic importance in American public life. 

We do the work that we do for the Association and with the goal of continuing to “grow” and improve Perspectives as a journal that is scholarly, engaging, and relevant. 

And we are happy that this work can play some small role in contributing to the public esteem of our profession and our Association….

Our special 10th anniversary discussion/reception, will take place on Friday, August 31, from 4:15-6:00 pm in Sheraton Rhythm 1. This event is being billed as “Perspectives on New Orleans and the Politics of Reconstruction: A Discussion of Perspectives on Politics with the Editors.” There will be a brief introduction thanking the many people who have contributed to the journal; brief presentations by Edwina Barvosa, Henry Farrell, Elizabeth Markovits and me; and then informal discussion, all in the context of a reception featuring wine, beer, and hors d’oevres, courtesy of APSA and Michael Brintnall. Please come to this event if you can, and please spread the word, and encourage your friends, colleagues, and students to attend.


Stuff Political Scientists Like #8 — feeling terrible about themselves, or APSA

Every year political scientists make a remarkable pilgrimage towards a large American city — Chicago, San Francisco, Philadelphia. Against all odds they push upstream trying to make a name for themselves. There is only room enough for a dozen or so great names in political science, those whose names will one day adorn a plaque in a graduate student lounge. We speak their name in hushed tones — Dahl, Skocpol, Waltz. But this does not deter thousands from arriving each year — yearning, striving, networking.

For graduate students political scientists call this ‘socialization,’ or learning how to feel insignificant. They feel violated as more established political scientists scan their badge while trying to sustain eye contact, instantly dismissing those with ‘State’ in the title of their universities. They seethe as they spot the renowned expert on the subject of their dissertation spend four hours at the bar despite an earlier email that their schedule was already full up. Outside they are stoic, but inside they are screaming, “Pay attention to me! I have things to say!”

At night the cleaning staff sweeps mounds of hair torn out from temples in the book exhibit hall where nervous junior professors earlier stalked the book stalls hoping for a chance encounter with the elusive acquisitions editor who never seems to appear. If one listens very closely, one can hear the walls whisper, “I was wondering if you could look at this prospectus. Prospectus. Prospectus….”

Other political scientists have clearly given up on attaining greatness. Their discussants strain to pretend that they have actually written a paper, saying things like, “I wonder if you could say a bit more” and “this was a really interesting paper.” The deadwood has no clothes. He thanks the discussant for his “helpful feedback,” submits his receipts for reimbursement and thinks about his 1982 APSR article. So much promise. So much promise.

Even those who have successfully navigated the raging waters and fought their way upstream cannot help wonder why, after all this time, their voice echoes in an empty ballroom as they sit upon the dais. “Why am I sitting three feet above an audience of five people? Was it all worth it? A lifetime of work for five citations in the Social Science Index? I should have never put my career before Jane. I wonder where she is now. Jane? Jane!?”

Yet every year the pilgrimage begins anew. Just not in New Orleans.


Do I Need (Yet Another) Conference Tote Bag? Um… No.

And now I can say that and support a good cause.

This email came to me, through a colleague, from the American Political Science Association today. Members among the Duck readership, please send a brief email to the organization at apsabags@hotmail.com.

Dear APSA member,

Do you need the annual conference bag? The APSA Labor Project is concerned about the labor conditions of those who make the bags. We are also aware there are environmental and sustainability considerations.

APSA does not contract or pay for the bags, one of the annual conference sponsors does; decisions about bag manufacturing are not under our control. We have worked closely with APSA leadership in D.C. to urge the bag sponsor to contract bags made in factories with verifiable labor conditions.

Last year the conference bags were made at a unionized, U.S. factory. This year the bags will be made at several undisclosed locations overseas, which means that labor conditions at production facilities cannot be independently verified. It would be extremely difficult to set up an agreement about where the bags are made, particularly since the bag sponsor may change from year to year.

On another front, while APSA’s sponsors have been moving toward environmentally-friendly products and we know that the bags are reusable for years, we wonder if indeed you need another bag? Doing away with the bags altogether, we argue, would be more sustainable in the end.

We would appreciate hearing from you about this issue to help us represent APSA members.

Please send your comments to apsabags@hotmail.com.

The APSA Labor Project


APSA Redux: Georgia, Russia and the Future of Global Order

Besides Dan’s creative performance at the Network Theory panel, the most noteworthy event I attended at this year’s APSA conference was the early Saturday morning roundtable “The Future of Global Order.”

Jeff Legro, Dan Drezner, John Ikenberry and Bruce Jentleson spoke all too eloquently (especially given the hour) of the crisis in global institutions, the changing nature of sovereignty, the rise of the global south, and the legitimacy gap between existing institutions of global governance and the balance of power. Their points differed in emphasis but shared an agreement with the premise of the panel: that existing global institutions are inadequate to solve the political crises of the hour, and that the future is therefore uncertain.

But then, Barbara Koremenos issued a rejoinder that began by taking the panel abstract and refuting it sentence by sentence:

“International institutions are not under siege. Very few are falling apart, and even those that have, like the ABM treaty, did so according to the rule of law. American hegemony is not in decline, or if so only when compared to to where it was in 1991. The sanctity of the nation state is not under assault from terrorists. Institutions still matter – why else would Russia feel so threatened by NATO? And I see no evidence that the have nots of today are better organized than in the 70s.”

Listening, I asked myself what the Russo-Georgia war tells us about this debate. I decided I come down on Barbara’s side. Under an earlier international order, the crisis could easily have been a trigger event for a real great power confrontation… instead the war lasted for only a few days, fewer than 1000 people died (so it may not even count as a war at all), and parties on both sides of the dispute are still bending over backward to invoke international law and international institutions, albeit self-servingly and contradictorily, in their political rhetoric; while, effectively, standing down.

Seems to me like the global order is in reasonably good hands.


Cluster@*#! to the Boston Marriott

Jon Stewart‘s guest last night, Bill Bishop, makes an argument about US political culture in his book The Big Sort: both about our tendency to “cluster” with those who think as we do, and its detrimental effects.

I concur with Bishop, hence I am writing to express my displeasure with this year’s Preliminary Program for the American Political Science Association Annual Conference. (At least, with the paper version.)

The program used to be organized chronologically. Panels of whatever topic were clustered by time block. If you had an open time block in your schedule, you could browse the program and pick any number of interesting panels to pop into, some that might interest you, others that you might never have attended, but for them fitting your time slot, where by chance, you get new ideas or meet new people you never would have thought to look for.

This year’s program groups panels according to Division. This means you’re likely to ask yourself not “what’s playing when” but rather, “who’s playing what.” In other words, your point of reference begins not with your location in space-time, but with your social and intellectual orientation; not with your availability to think and network freestyle, but with your choice of which particular community within APSA you most want to spend time associating with. The chances of my even noticing any of the panels not sponsored by the the Human Rights, Information Technology and Politics, International Security or Qual Methods sections are declining already.

This is exactly the opposite of what the profession needs. Instead of encouraging cross-topic fertilization, it will create more ghettoization along substantive lines. Instead of increasing our breadth, curiosity and diversity of perspective about things political, it will encourage us to compartmentalize ourselves within small communities of expertise. Instead of facilitating synergistic relations among many different types of political scientist, it will incentivize us to connect with only those who think most like us.

Perhaps political scientists should take heed of Bishop’s observations. As I recently pointed out, architecture is everything.

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