Some Stuff I Learned at ISA

Apr 8 '13

–This is a cross-post from Political Violence @ a Glance

Like many of my colleagues, I attended the 2013 International Studies Association Annual Meeting in San Francisco last week. Here are some of the headlines from me:

1. More and more IR scholars are looking to make a difference in the world, and not just by writing the occasional op-ed. I was approached by so many colleagues who wanted to brainstorm about how the field can better reach out to diverse audiences, make research accessible, and help the world be a better place. I must say it’s good to see this motivation taking center stage.

2. Conflict data is converging. I went to a workshop with the principal investigators of COW, ICOW, ACD, SCAD, MAR/MAROB, GTD, KEDS, ICEWS, WHIV, and others. The conversation revolved around 1) best practices in collecting conflict data; and 2) how each of these data sets can be made compatible with one another for easier integration. There was also talk of using brief informational videos (rather than just codebooks) to transmit information about data sets. We’ll likely write something up from the proceedings. Oh, and also: GDELT is out. It’s a game-changer. Check it out.

3. The new generation of IR scholars is the best thing going. I was amazed by the volume of graduate students and newly-minted PhDs creating ambitious and exciting new data, methodologies, and substantive findings. For a glimpse at the future of the field, check out work by students like Marianne Dahl(Oslo), Joel Day (Denver), Cassy Dorff (Duke), Jessica Maves (Penn State), Amy Nelson (Berkeley), Evan Perkoski (Penn), Chris Sullivan (Michigan), Ches Thurber (Tufts), and Arne Wackenhut (Gothenburg) — and these are just the ones I talked with at length!

4. Blogging events are the next best thing going. This year’s inaugural Sage/Duck of Minerva-sponsored Blogger Reception involved more energy and enthusiasm than any academic event I’ve ever seen. I won’t miss it next year. And, by the way, Political Violence @ a Glance received an OAIS Award as 2013’s Most Promising New Blog. Congrats to our contributors, and many thanks to our supporters!

5. Political scientists are taking nonviolent resistance seriously. The program this year included at least 28 papers that dealt, in some way, with civil resistance, nonviolence, or alternatives to violence. Yay.

6. There is a serious gender bias in IR citation practices. You (yes, you) can help to address this problem in a few simple ways: 1). Cite women when you write; 2). If you’re a woman, cite yourself (women are much less likely than men to self-cite); 3). When you’re putting together your course syllabi, make sure you fully represent women’s contributions to the discipline; 4) When you’re asked to do service for the discipline (editorial boards, committees, etc.), request that the board/committee include a representative number of women; and 5). Remind your colleagues and students to do the same. Easy, right?