Some Stuff I Learned at ISA

By Erica Chenoweth

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?

  1. Your point “More and more IR scholars are looking to make a difference in the world” is the most relevant to me, as I also noticed that even the famous names of the field are becoming worried of IR’s potential for irrelevance. I hope the burgeoning blogosphere is the first step to asserting social science’s importance in this world.

    So much congratulations on your award, you and all the contributors truly deserve it. It was also awesome finally meeting you in person! Much thanks for all the advice on blogging, I hope I’ll get to your level someday. Keep up the great work!

  2. Congrats on your award! I know this blog is one of my faves for social science/IR/academic-policy blogs, and the 2013 Most Promising New Blog title is well-deserved. You’ve been an inspiration, even though I don’t make it explicitly so in my blog.

    Agreed on the gender bias in IR citation practices. This was the case when I studied IR (an MSc.) in grad school, but this didn’t occur to me until long after I’d completed the programme. One way I now try to get around it in my blog is to quote/discuss news, magazine items and blogs featuring women writers, bloggers, journalists, activists, academics, etc….especially since my blog is kind of a jack-of-all-trades, but leaning towards activism, human rights, some IR, and specific national/regional politics. (my own sojourn in ‘academia’ was rather brief’)

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