This is a guest post from Kathleen Gallagher Cunningham, an associate professor of government and politics at the University of Maryland. She is the author of Inside the Politics of Self-determination (Oxford University Press, 2014).
I was recently at a relatively small academic conference, one that I’ve been attending for years whenever I can. The size of the meeting encourages engagement between big names and small names, grad students and professors, and across genders. It is a classic academic mixer, filled with slightly awkward people, many of whom are slightly disheveled, talking about things that are really interesting in really boring ways (to outsiders).
I started attending as a grad student and have made a number of critical personal and professional connections. In addition to getting useful feedback on my own work, this venue is a great opportunity to reconnect with people in my field and get to know some new ones. While I began as a young grad student, I am now at place where I am a (newly) senior member in the field.
After the final session one day, while people trickled out of the room, I sat down with a colleague I hadn’t seen for years. I was just hearing about a fascinating research project he’s working on when another person (another senior man in the field, though I’m not sure that matters) walked up and sat down, smiled at me but did not introduce himself and started a totally independent conversation with my colleague. I got up a few minutes later to make another meeting, but this small event stayed with me.
In this post, I would like to focus on the few ways in which the blogosphere and social media more generally help junior
Tomorrow, my great friend and coauthor Dursun Peksen and I will collect our $200 for winning the best paper award at the annual meeting of ISA-Midwest in St. Louis. The paper, which I’ve talked about a little bit before at the Duck, is actually forthcoming now at the Journal of Politics. Dursun has won quite a few prizes before but this is my first time winning any sort of best paper award. The award information says the prize is supposed to be in cash. I’m hoping it is because this will probably be the first time I’ve had access to cash with my name on it since I was a kid. I’m unsure what to do with my take of the winnings but I know the money has to be spent while I’m at the conference – otherwise, I’m sure I’ll rethink my plan of action and want to do something sensible with it. Here are my ideas:
Editor's Note: This is a guest post from Professor Peter M. Haas of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
Finding myself on the grey haired side of the academic divide and having experienced both sides of the process, let me reiterate David Lake’s points about networking with senior faculty. While networking to make friends is a lovely idea, it doesn’t always work at a large professional event, nor with senior people who aren’t necessarily looking for junior friends. The point at major international conferences, like APSA or ISA, is that networking isn’t really a social activity. It is an instrumental activity aimed at establishing name recognition for later interaction. As they say, it is what it is. I have found more specialized workshops and conferences a better place to network and meet, such as the annual Earth Systems Governance conferences. They are more laid back and welcoming and they have far fewer distractions (fewer colleagues with whom to catch up, fewer publishers, fewer concurrent panels, and generally more time with less to do in more isolated venues).
Senior scholars do value the ideas of, and interactions with, junior scholars. Indeed the source of change in the discipline comes from new ideas. So the interaction is healthy and necessary. Yet, everyone tends to be too busy at the large conferences. The vast size and overbooking is actually a lamentable thing, and truly counterproductive for facilitating serendipitous contacts.
What you can hope for from networking at ISA or APSA is probably rather limited.
Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by David Lake, who is the Jerri-Ann and Gary E. Jacobs Professor of Social Sciences and Distinguished Professor of Political Science at the University of California, San Diego.
I want to weigh in on “networking at conferences” debate here on the Duck (and elsewhere), some of which has been lost in subsequent controversy.
I agree with the prior posts by Saideman, Nexon, Sjoberg, and others, available here, that networking is less important than good research, and that networking among peers is far more valuable than networking with senior scholars. The most valuable thing you, as a junior scholar, can do at a conference is cultivate a group of peers who share your intellectual interests, who come from sufficiently different intellectual backgrounds (e.g., graduate programs) that you can learn lots of new things from them, and with whom you are personally comfortable and compatible.
Some of my closest and most trusted colleagues are those I met at the first few APSAs I attended. We started off as competitors for “attention” on panels, and ended up as collaborators, commiserators, sometimes colleagues, and in the end, good personal friends. These are the people who will keep you sane in the profession. They will read and comment on your work, share your professional worries and fears, understand the frustrations of balancing career and family, applaud your successes and, yes, cry with you at your failures (I remember one devastatingly bad presentation at an NBER conference from which I would not have recovered were it not for a couple of these good friends also attending and even more bottles of wine). You can’t plan these relationships, nor randomly roam the halls of the hotel looking for them, but be open to possibilities and take risks: ask a fellow panelist to coffee at the conference, follow up on an interesting discussion, and most important collaborate in organizing a panel on your mutual interests for a future conference.
But let me offer a slightly different perspective on networking from the other posts on this topic. Yes, approaching senior scholars is hard. I have done my share of approaching over the years, and recognize the courage it takes to introduce yourself to someone you know only through their writings. Now, more often than not, I’m the senior scholar– at least by age, if not yet self-image – who is being approached. Having been on both sides of these interactions, I recognize they can often (always?) be awkward. You will sometimes get shot down, as I was on numerous occasions. Not every overture will be reciprocated. But some will -- and truly rewarding interactions and mutually beneficial intellectual relationships can follow.
There's been a lot of discussion, here (1)(2) and elsewhere (3)(4) about the value of networking. Dan Drezner suggests that the best kind of networking is doing good research, and that there is a small professional benefit to networking, but not much. Eric Voten agrees, suggesting that networking is not going to lead to significant professional opportunities. Dan Nexon suggests that one not network at all, but talk to and meet people as an end in itself. While there are a lot of gems of advice in all of these posts (do good research, be professional, have fun, don't chase around "big names" all star-struck), I think that the punchline of these posts (individually and collectively) misses the mark pretty significantly in a couple of ways. One way, as Will Moore points out, is that both the need to network and the act of networking is very different for (even junior) people positioned differently in the field on a number of axes, including graduate school, mentors, race, gender, socioeconomic status, sexual identity, sexual preference, social skills, and competitiveness, to name a few. The need to network, the value of networking, the performance of networking, the reception of attempts to network, and the success of networking all differ across these and other axes. That is crucially important, and something where we should recognize the positions of privilege that we have ...
The question of networking tends to arise as conferences approach. With APSA less than two weeks away (which means discussants are going to be getting papers any day now--ok, in about a week if they are lucky), I thought I would post some thoughts about networking. There was a post earlier today that did address such stuff, but, well, stuff happened. A key point was lost in the course of events--that networking sideways and down is far easier and perhaps far more fruitful than trying to connect with the big names in the discipline.
A twitter friend of mine was trying to figure out how to put together his proposal for the International Studies Association's Annual Meeting. The ISA has gotten into a nasty habit of having a really early deadline. So, folks are thinking about it today since the deadline is tomorrow. I have had a fair amount of experience on the other end, organizing the program for the Foreign Policy section of the APSA about a decade ago, doing the Ethnicity, Nationalism and Migration section of the ISA [ENMISA] a few years back, and then this masochism year of the Foreign Policy Analysis section of the ISA this past spring and the International Security section (with Idean Salehyan) of the APSA for the meeting in September. So, I have opinions (no surprise to anyone):
Millennium. Journal of International Studies
"Rethinking the Standard(s) of Civilisation(s) in International Relations"
19-20 October 2013
London School of Economics and Political Science
Deadline for abstracts: 7 June, 2013
The theme of this year's conference will focus on the standard(s) of civilisation(s) in International Relations. In recent years, there has been a renewed scholarly interest in the concept of 'the standard of civilisation' in examining international norms, practices and policies entrenched in world politics, including international law, human rights, the status of women, good governance and globalisation, global markets, the EU policy of 'membership conditionality', and state-building. These are only some of the key aspects of international relations that illustrate the crucial relationship between civilisation and standards of conduct in global politics.
When: 8-9 November 2013
Where: at the Providence Biltmore, Providence, RI, USA
Submissions accepted 5 - 28 June 2013
The annual conference of the International Studies Association-Northeast (ISA-NE) will be held 8-9 November 2013 at the Providence Biltmore in Providence, Rhode Island. ISA-NE invites paper and panel proposals on any subject related to international studies, broadly defined. Topics might include international relations theory, international law and organizations, foreign policy, globalization, human rights, international development, conflict resolution, military/strategic studies, the environment, feminist and queer theory, gender studies, international political economy, and international political sociology, among others. ISA-NE expressly welcomes research from the full range of approaches to and philosophies of IR, including those using critical and postmodernist lenses.
We also encourage paper, panel, and roundtable proposals on subjects related to this year’s conference theme, Rethinking International Relations as International Hierarchies. Possible topics include, but are not limited to, theories of hierarchy, whether hierarchy/ies provides a more useful starting point for understanding global politics than the traditional anarchy problematique, and empirical analyses of international hierarchies. We especially encourage proposals from varied disciplinary and interdisciplinary perspectives. We seek to showcase the work of advanced graduate students and junior as well as senior scholars, and we welcome innovative ideas about the format, structure, and content of conference sessions.
The following is a guest post by Peter Henne.
Once again, the International Studies Association annual meeting is upon us, followed by the Midwest
It is time again for the International Studies Association Annual Conference. With thousands of attendees, a phone book full of panels, and a slough of receptions, dinners, meetings, and opportunities, the whole thing can be a bit overwhelming as a grad student (and for everyone else too!). You've likely received advice on how to present your work in 10 seconds or less- but what about the rest of the conference? Here are a couple of key tips for surviving the four days and getting the most out of the experience.
Before we get to the real essentials (food, shelter, and clothing), let's start with networking:
In addition to all the obvious tips (always wear your name tag, ask your supervisor to invite you along to some key dinners/meetings, hang out in the common areas and just generally act like you are speed dating, but for a job and contacts rather than for a mate) here are some more unconventional tips for making an impression:
- Do get up and head down to the lobby if you have jet lag and can't sleep at 4am. There is always the potential that you'll be invited to join a tequila tasting/debate on the norm diffusion/poker game, or that you'll see your academic idol passed out in the lobby- who wants to miss that for reruns of 'What Not To Wear' in the hotel room?
- Do Google image all of your academic idols. If you end up behind Ole Waever in the Starbucks lineup you don't want to miss the chance to (quickly) introduce yourself and tell him you use his work in your thesis. Also, if Ole comes to your panel, and you don't recognize him, and he asks a difficult question about securitization (hey, it is possible!) you don't want to a) accuse him he doesn't know what he's talking about b) go into detail about what an idiot you think Ole Waever is c) ask him if he's related to Kevin Bacon because there is something familiar about him. On that note, Don't (ever) use the coffee lineup, receptions, or the bar as an opportunity to ask someone like Ole to explain what they mean by social security or to tell them what aspects of their theory you think they got wrong. You may be right, and you may be brilliant, but there is a fine line between making an impression and burning a bridge/looking like a total douche.
- Don't follow the advice "ask a question at every panel, but start by talking about your research first." People who tell you to do this want you to fail. Yes, you should ask questions if and only if you have a strong, relevant question- let's be honest, that won't be at every panel. And, yes you should always introduce yourself first. But no one wants the Q&A time hijacked by someone pitching their own research- save that for the bar or receptions.
Ok, on to the other essentials:
In case folks have missed it, there is an upcoming deadline (FRIDAY!) for the 2013 ECPR General Conference in Bordeaux, September 4-7th. Unlike many other conferences, EPCR paper proposals are submitted to already-organized panels. This often results in more cohesive panels and, one hopes, more helpful feedback. Paper proposals are due this coming Friday and can be submitted through the various organized sections listed here. ... And the conference is in Bordeaux, which is lovely and features nifty, futuristic trams built by Alain Juppé (pre-scandal).
For those of you who work on political violence, I've posted that section's call below. For those working on intra-state violence, please take a look at the abstract for my own panel, "New Methodological Approaches to Local Context & Violence."
The ISA-NE leadership is monitoring the weather situation. We hope that everything is cleared out in time for the conference. We will keep you all posted as to developments.
A partial panel, via Luke M. Perez, who has set up a page for the #virtualAPSA2012 project.
Rob's panel was "Abolish the Air Force," scheduled for 10:15am on Sunday.
Phil Arena was supposed to present his paper, "Crisis Bargaining and Domestic Opposition" at APSA. If you are reading this on an RSS feed, you