Via a Facebook friend, an analysis of the sound and fury surrounding MOOCs by Aaron Bady:
Where this urgency comes from, however, might be less important than what it does to our sense of temporality, how experience and talk about the way we we are, right now, in “the MOOC moment.” In the MOOC moment, it seems to me, it’s already too late, always already too late. The world not only will change, but it has changed. In this sense, it’s isn’t simply that “MOOCs are the future,” or online education ischanging how we teach,” in the present tense. Those kinds of platitudes are chokingly [sic] omnipresent, but the interesting thing is the fact that the future is already now, that it has already changed how we teach. If you don’t get on the MOOC bandwagon, yesterday, you’ll have already been left behind. The world has already changed. To stop and question that fact is to be already belated, behind the times.
There's a striking similarity between this kind of rhetoric and early globalization discourse. Indeed, one of the best ways to force change is to argue that the transformation is already happening.
I very much recommend reading the whole piece and not simply the excerpts I've culled from it. Bady does a much better -- and more systematic -- job than I did of linking together what Kohen calls "edutainment," TED talks, and MOOCs. But among the many gems in the essay is this critical insight about MOOC discourse:
The International Ethics section of the International Studies Association announces its annual book award competition for 2014. The award is given every year at the International Ethics section business meeting at the ISA Convention. Next year, the convention is in Toronto, March 26-29.
The prize will be an award of $200 along with a plaque to honor the author’s work.
Books eligible for the award must fall into the broadly defined category of international ethics. This includes, but is not limited to, books on international descriptive ethics, international normative ethics, metaethics, comparative ethics, international religious ethics, international political theory, and international legal theory. Books not clearly falling into one of the above categories may be considered if members of the Selection Committee agree that it is worthy of consideration. Eligible books can be either single- or multi-authored. Edited collections will not be eligible. Textbooks, translations and memoirs are not eligible. (Please see a list of past winners below.)
Finally, and most importantly, is the central claim that the test of education is whether or not it’s entertaining. Wales asks, “why wouldn’t you have the most entertaining professor, the one with the proven track record of getting knowledge into people’s heads?” Is there evidence that the most entertaining lecture is the one that gets “knowledge into people’s heads”? Again, I’m not suggesting that a boring lecture is going to do the trick, but I’m arguing that entertaining students doesn’t necessarily equate with teaching them something. When I lecture on Kant, I don’t think I’m really entertaining my students. In my opinion, Kant’s Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals doesn’t lend itself to entertainment; it’s a dense text that needs some serious explication. Now, I don’t speak in a monotone and I try to find relevant examples to help them make sense of the material, but I’m not standing in front of the class hoping that they’ll all have a great time; I’m standing there with the express purpose of teaching them about Kant.
The Theory Section seeks nominations for its new conference paper awards. All papers with a strong theoretical focus which were presented at the 2013 ISA conference in San Francisco are eligible. The Theory Section seeks to honor excellent work in theorizing international politics across the plurality of theoretical approaches. Two awards will be granted: one for a paper presented by a graduate student or other non-PhD holder, and another for a paper by a post-PhD scholar.
Kenneth Waltz died last night. From an email sent by Robert Jervis:
It is with great sadness that I have to report that Ken Waltz died last night. As many of you know, his health had been uncertain ever since he lost much of his sight a year ago, and about a month ago he was hospitalized with pneumonia. While he recovered enough to be discharged to rehab, a combination of a return of pneumonia and congestive heart failure sent him back to the hospital a few days ago.
He was a few weeks short of 89 but until the very end remained fully lucid and engaged. Indeed he was looking forward to a trip to the UK with his daughter-in-law in the fall, and the day before he went into the hospital had lunch with Les Gelb & Henry Kissinger (& remarked that the latter's age was showing). Despite being unable to see well enough to read, his spirits remained high until the end, which came quickly.
We will all miss him greatly both for his scholarship & his personality.
The International Studies Association Theory Section Book Award
The International Studies Association Theory Section Book Award recognizes the best book or edited volume published over the past two years that contributes to the theorization of world politics. The award is open to all forms and styles of theorization. Criteria include such considerations as innovativeness, quality of argumentation, and significance for the broad discipline of international studies.
Nominations should be emailed to the committee chair accompanied by a brief letter explaining why a work deserves consideration for the award. Authors may nominate themselves. A copy of each book must be sent to each member of the committee, with the line “Theory Section Book Award, c/o” at the top of each address.
Nominations are due by 15 August, 2013 and books must be received by 30 August, 2013. E-book formatted submissions are welcome.
Officers of the Theory section and members of the committee are ineligible for the award.
Note: this is the second in a series of posts opening up issues relating to journal process for general discussion by the international-studies community.
All journals commit to publishing "the best work" that they receive within their remit. All journals aspire to publish "the best work," period, within their specialization. This raises special challenges for a journal such as the International Studies Quarterly, which constitutes the "flagship" publication of the International Studies Association (ISA). The ISA is incredibly diverse. It includes members from all over the world--nearly half are based outside of North America--who work in different disciplines and within heterogeneous research cultures.
This is a guest post by Jarrod Hayes. He is Assistant Professor in the Sam Nunn School of International Affairs. He received his PhD in Politics and International Relations from the University of Southern California in 2009. His research broadly focuses on the social construction of foreign and security policy.
They are complex weapons. They are expensive. They require high levels of engineering expertise to develop, maintain and operate. They are the purview of the most advanced developed economies in the world. Nuclear weapons? Nope, modern major conventional weapons systems.
The title of this post exaggerates of course, but I think there might be something to it. My thinking on this subject is prompted by a recent story on quiet pressure being applied by policymakers the United States to their colleagues in the United Kingdom. The Americans want the Brits to scrap their submarine deployed nuclear weapons in favor, one assumes, of more conventional military capabilities.
Note: this is the first in what I hope will be a series of posts opening up issues relating to journal process for general discussion by the international-studies community.
Although many readers already know the relevant information, let me preface this post with some context. I am the incoming lead editor of International Studies Quarterly (ISQ), which is one of the journals in the International Studies Association family of publications. We are planning, with PTJ leading the effort, some interesting steps with respect to online content, social media, and e-journal integration--but those will be the subject of a later post. I have also been rather critical of the peer-review process and of the fact that we don't study it very much in International Relations.
The fact is that ISQ by itself--let alone the collection of ISA journals and the broader community of cognate peer-reviewed publications--is sitting on a great deal of data about the process. Some of this data, such as the categories of submissions, is already in the electronic submission systems--but it isn't terribly standardized. Many journals now collect information about whether a piece includes a female author. Given some indications of subtle, and consequential, gender bias, we have strong incentives to collect this kind of data.
But what, exactly, should we be collecting?
In other words, the focus now should be on the Tsarnaevs as homegrown terrorists, not on the ethnic or regional origins of their family. Journalists’ initial conversations with family members in Dagestan amplify that point: a sense of shock that two nice boys who had gone to America for their education could have been involved in such a brutal act. Dzhokhar, for example, was reportedly a successful student and championship wrestler in Cambridge, Massachusetts—hardly the typical foreign jihadist. People with family roots in the Caucasus are often perceived in Russia and elsewhere as inherently rebellious and conflict-prone, a line of thinking that has deep roots in Russian culture. That imagery still affects how street crime is reported in Moscow, how Russian security services target people they believe to be potential terrorists, and how Russia’s own often brutal “anti-terrorist operations” play out in the towns and villages of places such as Dagestan, Kabardino-Balkaria, North Ossetia, and other republics of the north Caucasus that are little known in the West. The sad truth is that the scenes in Boston early this morning—with SWAT teams in full battle gear, a shootout on the street, and an alleged suspect perhaps wearing an explosive vest or other suicide device—are all too typical in the north Caucasus itself. The difference is that in Russia, these operations are sometimes little more than assassination missions, designed to target alleged terrorists on only the flimsiest of evidence. That is obviously not the case in Boston. But speculating about the brothers’ ethnic origins plays into the worst stereotypes that have bedeviled attempts to bring peace, stability, and good governance to Russia’s southern borderlands.
Boston on lockdown. One suspect dead. One--apparently a CRLS graduate--still at large. The fact is that we still don't have adequate information for much in the way of meaningful speculation. But I do think it useful to call attention to three related issues:
The Yale H. Ferguson Book Award
The Yale H. Ferguson award, presented by International Studies Association-Northeast, recognizes the book that most advances the vibrancy of international studies as a pluralist discipline. Any book or edited volume published within the field of international studies in the previous calendar year is eligible for consideration. The award winner is selected based on two criteria: (1) that it makes an outstanding contributions to concept-formation, theoretical analysis, or methodological issues in the study of world politics; and (2) that it contributes to the status of international studies as an intellectually pluralist field.
Nominations should be emailed to the committee chair accompanied by a brief letter explaining why a work deserves consideration for the award. Authors may nominate themselves. A copy of each book must be sent to each member of the committee, with the line “Yale H. Ferguson Award, c/o” at the top of each address. Nominations are due by May 15, 2013 and books must be received by May 31, 2013.
Members of the award committee, as well as the current program chair for ISA-NE, are ineligible for the award.
Because we don't know enough to engage in anything resembling responsible commentary.
And those things that we can say something worthwhile about--including comparisons with other terrorist attacks past and present, such as what happened on the same day in Iraq; and the socio-political dynamics of the US response so far--don't exactly demand my input.
I want to remind interested parties that we've posted a call for suggestions for (1) the ISA Theory Section's "Distinguished Scholar" of 2014 and (2) the wording of the book prize. Vocal parties at the 2013 business meeting called for democratizing the process via this kind of mechanism; it would be a shame if Schmitt trumped Habermas when it came to these issues.
Also of note....
(click on the image to enlarge)
I'm usually cautious about linking to anything in the PSJR/PSR family of sites, but this strikes me as pretty interesting: a wiki devoted to tracking political-science journals. Contributors note the journal, the turnaround time, and information about what happened to the article. Despite the promulgation of end-of-year journal reports, the submission-to-review-to-outcome process remains a mystery to many. In general, more information is a good thing -- especially considering how much influence peer-reviewed publications have on the allocation of status, prestige, and resources in the field.