By Sarah Bakhtiari
They’re calling it a game-changer; that is, competency-based education. Will the academy shift along with higher education more broadly toward an outcome-based, rather than process-based, learning model? What are the implications of highly tailored and results-driven doctoral programs, for example?
Does the U.S. President have the authority required to lift sanctions against Iran? Many claim the Iran Review Act bars the President from so doing—here’s the legal take. For more on the law, read Kings of War’s post on Britain’s al-Awlaki moment. The bottom line is that the recent targeted killing of a UK citizen is different from America’s killing of al-Awlaki, for several reasons.
Ahead of President Obama’s August trip to Kenya, social activists in Kenya warned him against LGBTQ messaging, using the hashtag #KenyansMessageToObama—but why? Some believe homophobia is used as a political resource across much of the continent, diverting attention away from issues of high unemployment, widespread poverty, and overall bad governance. Does the promotion of these Western norms amount to cultural or social imperialism, as some charge? Some foreign governments have exploited the West’s promotion of LGBTQ rights by targeting LGBTQ organizations that rely on foreign funding, and fusing homophobic and anti-Western discourses.
Speaking of Africa, Islamic Africa has an article out this month on the tension between Nigeria’s mainstream Salafis—who oppose the violence of the Boko Haram sect—and the state. Mainstream Salafis are working to undermine Boko Haram’s message and disabuse the public of the misperception that all Salafis support the group.
A recent study on agent-based models—computer simulations of social interactions between heterogeneous agents embedded in social structures—may help social scientists better understand things like in-group and out-group behavior under conditions of repression, the prisoner’s dilemma, and other such game theoretic models.
Planning a coup? Naunihal Singh’s book offers a strategic logic of military coups, at least in the last half-century.
Europe continues to cope—poorly or well depends on one’s vantage point—with high levels of refugees. How high? The Center for Global Development clarifies that the majority of displaced persons remain in their home state, and that the refugee flows into Europe today are not the highest since World War II, making the case that it is a failure of politics and institutions, not a crisis of numbers, confronting Europe. Isn’t asylum part of UN member states’ R2P—responsibility to protect?
Meanwhile, the U.S. confronts it’s own challenges: like buying weapons from Belorussian dictators on the Department of State’s ITAR list that are past their shelf life; like surging violent crime rates in American cities due to police retreat in the face of antipolice campaigns; and like ensuring the electoral integrity of the world’s iconic democracy. Some good news from President Obama’s year-old Social and Behavioral Sciences Team, which released their annual report (or read the summary). The team’s effectiveness prompted an Executive Order to use their research to make federal programs more effective and efficient—a win for policy-relevant research!
Finally, can fiction inform academic investigation? Todd Moss suggests there’s perhaps a reciprocal relationship there, floating untested but not infeasible concepts in novels based on his tenure as a policymaker at the U.S. Department of State.