“and Elinor?”: when winning a Nobel Prize isn’t enough…

“and Elinor?”: when winning a Nobel Prize isn’t enough…

by on 2014-10-01- 6 Comments

This is a guest post from Leslie Johns, an Assistant Professor of political science at UCLA. 

The Public Choice Society---an academic organization of scholars who study the interaction of politics and economics---recently announced that it has created a new award for scholarly research: the Vincent and Elinor Ostrom Prize.  The announcement of this prize is provoking an intense reaction because of its name: “The Vincent and Elinor Ostrom Prize”?

Elinor Ostrom was well-known to political scientists, policy analysts, and economists.  As a graduate student during the 1960s in the Political Science Department at UCLA, where I work, Ostrom overcame tremendous odds and blatant discrimination to earn her Ph.D.  Her reward for this work was being offered a job as a secretary.  After decades of climbing the academic ladder and publishing path-breaking scholarship on the regulation of shared resources, it seemed as though Ostrom had finally been recognized for her courage and intellect.  Despite the fact that she never received a degree from or a faculty appointment in an economics department, Ostrom was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics in 2009. She was the first, and remains the only, woman to win this prize.
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Tweets of the Week #3

by on 2014-09-28- Leave a reply

It's the weekend, so it's time for the third edition of “Tweets of the Week.” My twitter feed was again filled with some interesting micro-blogging.

By the way, I apologize for the way last week's home page post looked. Obviously, I'm doing something wrong with the images, though it seems to be fine once the reader clicks the link to Continue Reading. I hope readers can see the image at the top of this page.
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Ready for the Weekend Quasi-Linkage: Are Political Scientists Useless?

Ready for the Weekend Quasi-Linkage: Are Political Scientists Useless?

by on 2014-09-26- 2 Comments

Steve and I had a good Twitter exchange with Tom Ricks about whether or not political science is useless to policymakers, particularly quantitative work and modeling. I thought this exchange was funny because today I saw that Colin Kahl, friend and more importantly, a damn good political scientist, was just appointed as Vice President Biden's National Security Advisor.

Ricks' broadside has provoked a few choice blog posts from Steve, Paul Staniland, Tom Pepinsky, and Henry Farrell. (Dan Drezner also had a good one on the topic from 2012). I also thought Ezra Klein's column from a week or so ago on why
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Neoliberalizing the academy

Neoliberalizing the academy

by on 2014-09-26- 4 Comments

Josh’s post on his experience with course evaluations has gotten me thinking about the practice of using course evaluations. Because my personal circumstances differ from Josh’s (e.g. I do not have children), I have been able to avoid some of the painful tradeoffs he discusses and have not yet had to confront ‘bad’ evaluations. Reading his post, however, prompted me to connect some dots that have been floating around in my head regarding the ideological underpinnings of practices in the academy with recent pieces I have seen in the media—specifically a NYTimes report on the release of the follow-up to
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ISIS, Syria, the Rebels and the US-Led Coalition: What Governs Who?

ISIS, Syria, the Rebels and the US-Led Coalition: What Governs Who?

by on 2014-09-24- 3 Comments

In a phone call today with a friend working on issues pertaining to the Responsibility to Protect (R2P), an interesting question arose. In particular, what types of conflict are going on with the fight against ISIS? My friend wanted to draw attention to the R2P aspects of the crisis, and whether the “intervention” on the side of the US was just according to these standards. While this is certainly an interesting question, I think it points us in the direction of a larger set of questions regarding the nature of the conflict itself. That is, what are the existing laws
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Bad Evals: Further Thoughts on Having it All

Bad Evals: Further Thoughts on Having it All

by on 2014-09-24- 4 Comments

So, I got some bad teaching evaluations from last semester (bad by my standards at least. Hell, by anybody's standards). It's kind of thrown me for a loop because I pride myself on being a good scholar, a good teacher, and a good husband/father. But, sometimes it may not be possible to pull off all three of these things well simultaneously, especially if you've got an ambitious research agenda, equally challenging and risky courses, and a toddler at home. That wasn't my immediate reaction when I read the students comments, but I've kind of gravitated to that conclusion, if only to stave off admissions of being a lousy professor or thinking ill of my students.

I've written before about Anne-Marie Slaughter's powerful essay and the problematic label of "having it all." Coming back to the idea here doesn't make it any easier to think about what to do about it.

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What’s Next for the Global Climate Movement?

What’s Next for the Global Climate Movement?

by on 2014-09-23- 4 Comments

This is a guest post from Jennifer Hadden, who is an assistant professor at the University of Maryland. She guest blogged on the Duck before on global climate negotiations. She also has a forthcoming book from Cambridge on climate advocacy called Networks in Contention: The Divisive Politics of Climate Change.

The largest climate change demonstration in history took place on Sunday. According to organizers of the People’s Climate March, an estimated 400,000 people participated in the protest in New York. For comparison, the size of the march was comparable to the scale of the February 15 anti-war demonstration in 2003. The demonstration at the Copenhagen Summit in 2009 mobilized about 100,000 people, but US demonstrations at that time generally mobilized fewer than 1,000 people. The People’s Climate March was also a transnational event: during the march a giant video screen outside Times Square projected images of demonstrations all over the world, totaling 2,808 events in 166 countries.

How does a protest on this scale come about? And what does it mean for the future of the global climate movement?
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The Short-Termist Cost of Security

The Short-Termist Cost of Security

by on 2014-09-21- 6 Comments

It is no secret in the academic IR community that securitization theory, an approach developed in Europe as part of the Copenhagen School of security studies, has struggled to get traction here in the United States. While the approach is widely used elsewhere in the world, from Europe to Asia, American IR scholars have been very reticent reluctant to accept the merits of the approach. Which is a shame because the approach has the potential to offer significant insights. One possible objection to securitization theory might be that, since it argues threats are political and intersubjective rather than objective, the
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Tweets of the Week #2

by on 2014-09-20- Leave a reply

Welcome to the second edition of "Tweets of the Week." It was a busy seven days for news and my twitter feed provided much useful information -- in micro-form.

The Scottish independence referendum featured especially prominently in my feed. This was perhaps my favorite tweet about the final result:

Prior to the vote, my feed was filled with some great tweets about the #indyref. Here are a few of the shorter ones that I found especially helpful:

https://twitter.com/johnpmcdermott/status/512346430908805120

https://twitter.com/ZiggyRoswell/status/510153980144787457

The Scottish referendum, of course, was not the only interesting issue in global politics this week. And, over the long
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Second Thoughts About the West’s (Weak) Opposition to the Putin Doctrine

by on 2014-09-20- 2 Comments

 thCAYFA069

Russia may have agreed to a ceasefire with Ukraine the week before last, but in addition to regular violations of it by both Russian forces and pro-Russian rebels, it is important to understand that what not long ago was considered an irregular conflict has transitioned into open warfare between Russia and Ukraine. Most of the fighting ended in a ceasefire when President Poroshenko -- weakened by the West's refusal to provide lethal equipment and the failure of the NATO summit to address the Kremlin threat in a fully comprehensive fashion -- accepted Putin's terms.

This ceasefire is unlikely to hold, however, as Putin is feeling his oats. Not only did he ignore NATO warnings not to send regular troops into Ukraine, he undermined President Obama and NATO's efforts to reassure its Eastern members by abducting an Estonian intelligence officer the day the summit ended. With his regular troops, Putin has expanded and reinforced his position in the Donbass and has approached the port city of Mariupol. There are credible reports that Russian agents are at work in Kharkiv, Ukraine's second largest city, and Odessa.

If the West continues to react slowly and weakly to Kremlin aggression, Putin will face no serious obstacles to moving further west in Ukraine to Odessa and even the border with Moldova. Doing so would provide a land bridge to Crimea and Transnistria, the frozen conflict in Moldova that Moscow has nourished since the fall of the Soviet Union.
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Thursday Linkage: #Climate2014 Edition

Thursday Linkage: #Climate2014 Edition

by on 2014-09-17- Leave a reply

On Tuesday September 23, the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon is hosting a meeting of world leaders to discuss the issue of climate change. The aim is to build pressure and support for action in advance of the climate negotiations to be held in Paris in late 2015. In advance of Tuesday's climate meeting, activists are holding on Sunday, September 21st the People's Climate March, what aims to be the largest march of its kind with a core march in New York and satellite marches in major cities around the world. The hashtag #Climate2014 is capturing much of the news about the upcoming meeting and marches.

While the news in other spheres has been rather dire of late, activists I've talked to are optimistic that 2014 and 2015 may be the most propitious time for successful climate action in years. With the worst of the financial crisis behind us, there may be scope for real commitments and concerted action. There are dark clouds of course: emissions reached an unprecedented high last year and some key leaders, notably those from China and India, are skipping Tuesday's meeting, but there is also hope. In this set of links, I try to provide some context for the renewed sense of anticipation for this meeting and 2015.
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Britain’s Role in the World and Scottish Independence

Britain’s Role in the World and Scottish Independence

by on 2014-09-16- Leave a reply

[Note: This is a guest post by David M. McCourt, an assistant professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of California-Davis. His book, Britain and World Power Since 1945: Constructing a Nation’s Role in International Politics, has just been published by University of Michigan Press.]

On Thursday the Scottish people will go to the polls to vote on independence from the United Kingdom, with the prospect of a “yes” vote more realistic than many believed only a few weeks ago. This raises important questions for Britain’s role in the world, and by extension for the future of NATO,
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What Do Americans Think About Foreign Policy in 2014?

What Do Americans Think About Foreign Policy in 2014?

by on 2014-09-15- Leave a reply

Today, the Chicago Council on Global Affairs (CCGA) released their biennial report of U.S. public attitudes on foreign policy, drawn from a large national sample carried out in May of this year. This year, my co-author Jon Monten and I participated in the team that designed the survey and analyzed the findings. [As an aside, we also have been working with CCGA to revive the leader surveys that CCGA administered for many years. Jordan Tama, Craig Kafura, Jon and I presented our first set of findings from the leader surveys at #APSAOnFire. We hope to release a report this fall with the data to follow.]

So, what are the most surprising findings? Well, per usual, Dan Drezner beat me to the punch and picked up on several them. He and I are in agreement about a number of them, particularly the dip in support for international engagement among Republicans, the high perception that the war in Afghanistan was not worth it, and robust support for free trade and globalization. We also include a survey experiment to see if public attitudes could, as in past surveys, be moved to support U.S. use of force if supported by multilateral endorsers, either a U.N. Security Council authorized mission or a coalition of allies. Interestingly, across a range of possible scenarios, that did not seem to matter.
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Bad Advice on Making Academic Babies: opting in and out of heteronormative panic

by on 2014-09-15- 6 Comments

What I remember most about my post-grad Gender and Politics seminar were the extensive discussions we had about having babies. It was 2004, and debates about babies vs careers, and whether women should 'opt out' to raise families, were heated and divisive. Women were told in the 1980s and 1990s that the highest feminist aspiration was to wear oversize, terrible suits and work alongside men- as equals (or at least work alongside men, while accepting less pay and dealing with harassment). This was followed by the movement to denounce the double-day; the New York Times and Time Magazine led the charge in declaring that women wanted out of the work force, and were empowered by the choice to stay at home and raise children. Less than a decade later, it was declared that 'women couldn't have it all'- the career, family balance was a loose loose choice. We had been duped. The opt out luxury was always 'fiction' that only really applied to white middle-class women. Forbes pointed out that opt-out mom's were unable to catch up in their careers and Al Jazeera concluded that women weren't opting out, they were out of options. The opt out women 'wanted back in' (are you confused yet about what *good* feminists should want??). Perhaps the culmination of this back and forth comes in Linda Hirshman's book, 'Get to Work...And Get a Life Before it is too Late.' Hirshman calls 'opting out' a form of 'self-betrayal' (and also encourages women to only have one child).
Entangled within this debate were mixed messages about how to 'time' having children (note, there was no debate there about whether strategizing to fit children within one's career plan was itself a problem).
One article I read back in 2004 encouraged women to 'do the math' and take control over the timing of children so that they didn't 'forget,' have to rush to become a 'last chance mother,' or run out of biological time before they reproduced- ending up 'single and childless'.* The strategy went like this: pick the age at which you want to have a child (or your last child, if you want more than one), count back in years and account for how long you want to be married before you have children, count back more years and think how long you will date before you get married. The results- your long term birth plan.
Does it get more heteronormative that this? The article made several big assumptions, including:
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Belated Friday Nerd Blogging: Scottish Secession Edition

by on 2014-09-14- Leave a reply

I am not a fan of Scottish independence, so I thought we should get equal time from the Yes/Aye side:

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Tweets of the Week

by on 2014-09-13- Leave a reply

Though I've been blogging at the Duck of Minerva for more than 9 years, I haven't posted much content for several years. My last post here was in mid-February. You can find maybe half a dozen posts in 2013 and 2014. It's a terrible record. Embarrassingly, I had to look up my username just to log in.

There are multiple explanations for my silence: the U.S. withdrew from Iraq, which was my original blogging muse. I became department chair. My hair is turning very gray. Blah, blah, blah.

However, in my own defense, I should note that I am a much more frequent
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Military Officers on Women in the Infantry: Five For, One Against

by on 2014-09-13- 3 Comments

Lance Corporal Kristi Baker, on patrol with 1st Battalion 8th Marines as a member of a Female Engagement Team.Contenders for the Marine Corps Association's Major General Harold W. Chase Prize, ($3000, publication, and a plaque) are supposed to "propose and argue for a new and better way of “doing business” in the Marine Corps. Authors must have strength in their convictions and be prepared for criticism from those who would defend the status quo."

Therefore it came as a surprise to many military professionals when the 2013 winner was Marine Captain Lauren F. Serrano, whose winning essay was an opinion piece that called for maintaining the status quo and excluding women from the infantry.

But in the month since her article was published, it's worth noting that five decorated military officers (Marines, Army, male and female, infantry and other specialties) have weighed in to dispute her claims, while not a single officer has written to corroborate or support Captain Seranno's opinions, which appear to have been formed absent  research, evidence, or personal experience. 
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Obama’s ISIS Strategy: A Clausewitzian Perspective

Obama’s ISIS Strategy: A Clausewitzian Perspective

by on 2014-09-12- 5 Comments

Much ink has been spilled over the last few days concerning President Obama’s speech on Wednesday evening regarding ISIS, as well as how his strategy will face many challenges going forward. Some cite that he does not go far enough, others that he has not fully laid out what to do in Syria when he has to face a potential deal with Assad. I, however, would like to pause and ask about the motivations on each side of this conflict, and whether we have any indications about how the asymmetry of motivations may affect the efficacy of Obama’s campaign. Moreover,
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Thursday Linkage

Thursday Linkage

by on 2014-09-11- Leave a reply

Well, this semester is off to a brisk start, and I can't say I'm fully recovered yet from #APSAOnFire, though the subsequent events near AU added considerable intrigue to what transpired. I watched the president's speech on ISIS tonight, and I think my wife summed it up best, he looked like he wanted to give the speech about as much as we wanted to hear it. I think Jeffrey Goldberg summed it up best when evoked the Godfather and Obama's desperate efforts to extricate the United States from the Middle East to no avail. However pedestrian the speech, at least Obama did not hype the threat to the United States from ISIS, as many o' armchair analyst are wont to do. As others noted, it's kind of amazing that Russia's transgressions in Ukraine are second fiddle to this.

In any event, I'm aiming to have something more to say on the NYTimes expose on think tanks in the service of foreign governments. In the meantime, let me link away to those who beat me to the punch as well as more on Steven Sailata's pre-firing at Illinois (including a statement from APSA), Kissinger's new book, more bad news on climate change and Ebola. I'm on a bit of a good global news slump, and it's a bit hard to take respite in cool findings from political science (though this one with an experiment and aid allocation by my colleagues and collaborators with AidData is pretty cool). that said, the upcoming people's climate march on September 21st is giving me cause for some optimism. By the way, many of you have probably got the TRIPS survey in your email so time to have your opinions counted...
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The First Year on the Tenure-Track: Wanting to Give the White Whale Back

by on 2014-09-10- 5 Comments

As a grad student, I used to the think longingly about the day when I would finally hold a tenure-track job.  I could almost taste the thrill of the teaching and the joy of faculty resources.  You mean, someone will pay for my copy of [insert software you’d like to use legally]?  And, textbooks will be free? I also fantasized about how wonderful it would be to not be under the thumb of my advisors.  Of course, I thought I could live like a queen on a faculty salary, too.  The tenure-track position was my white whale.

Three months into the job, however, I wanted to give my white whale back.  Everything in my life seemed like a mess – my relationship with my SO was rocky, I hated teaching, I just knew I would never get anything published, and I felt like I had no time for anything fun, ever.  I’ve talked to other first year professors over the years and I think this is a common position to be in during the first year on the tenure-track.  And, like all the other loads of unsolicited advice I’ve doled out on the Duck, I thought that I’d spread the word about the “first-year” blues.  Although everyone – EVERYONE! -  I’ve ever met is so thankful for the tenure-track position, a lot of us feel the learning curve is pretty steep.  Perhaps if I had had realistic expectations about what to expect that first year, I would have been better able to deal with all of the changes that come that first year.

There are some strategies I’ve heard for improving your transition from grad student to professor.  Here are a few of them.  Michael Flynn, a current first-year professor at Kansas State University was extremely helpful in providing me comments on this post.  His suggestions are also included below.  Hopefully, others can leave their advice in the comments section.

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