I spent most of my spring break at the International Studies Association Annual Conference in Atlanta this past week. It was my first time at the ISA since 2013 (San Francisco), and because my wife’s parents live nearby, we couldn’t pass on the chance to double-up on attending a conference and visiting family. I had a lot of fun at the conference, met some great people, and really got back into liking big conferences.
My Junior Scholar Symposium panel
My participation in the program included a spot in the selective Junior Scholar Symposium. I presented a paper on my International Relations Scholars Database project, which involves my Introduction to International Studies students contacting and interviewing International Relations scholars and writing up brief profiles of them. The idea is to gather perceptions of the field and advice for pursuing an academic career in IR.
I presented some self-reported responses from the first dozen students to participate in the project. Most students taking this class expect a high level of diversity among their classmates and instructors, and most reported improved perceptions of diversity in the field after completing the project. I’ll have more data to analyze once the current semester ends, with about 100 students participating.
My one issue with the JSS program is the combination of both a workshop-style panel with a few other presenters and a poster. My group—and others too, as far as I could tell—never presented our posters, although the others in my group simply printed out slides and tacked them to the display. This was my first time creating and—I thought—presenting poster, so I took some time with it. I thought the poster looked good, and you can download it if you care to see it.
I stuck to military intervention for most of my panels, and there’s some interesting work being done. I also took in a panel on empirical tests of bargaining theory. Form that panel I found out about a new conference on the Empirical Implications of Bargaining Theory for the study of conflict, which should be an interesting avenue for some of my future work on theorizing military interventions.
I couldn’t resist and took in a late panel on how we define peace that included some serious start power: Bruce Bueno de Mesquita, Christian Davenport, Sara Mitchell, William Thompson, and Harvey Starr as the discussant. The real fun happened late in the panel when Errol Henderson and Bueno de Mesquita clashed over colonialism’s impact on how we conceive peace, a conversation that continued for 90 more minutes in the lobby.
The best part of the conference for me was making some great new contacts. As a graduate student, I never reached out to scholars at other universities, but I’ve since learned that conferences are much more about networking and meeting up with people with shared interests than just presenting your paper.
I spent a few minutes before the bargaining theory panel with Robert Carroll, a pretty bright guy who is taking on capability ratios (if you do quantitative work in international conflict, you know how big a deal that is).
I also got to spend a few minutes hanging out with Raul Pacheco-Vega, a huge mentor for me and lots of early career researchers (ECRs) in Political Science. His blogging and tweeting have been very helpful, positive influences, and I can’t thank him enough for giving me plenty of motivation to produce more while also taking care of myself over the past year.
Overall, ISA 2016 was a great conference for me, and I’m really looking forward to Baltimore next year. I even have a couple panel ideas to pitch, so look out for those!