Fall 2019 RA Posts

TRIP goes to APSA

TRIP is back after a brief hiatus. Before settling into Op-Ed and Journal coding for the semester, TRIP made a detour up to Washington, D.C. for the American Political Science Association’s (APSA) annual conference. We all attended different panels, learned about interesting methods, and got to meet scholars who have worked with TRIP data.


Here are some highlights from the weekend:


This was my first APSA, and I really enjoyed it! I had the opportunity to attend several intriguing panels. One of my favorite panels was a roundtable on Nomi Lazar’s book, Out of Joint: Power, Crisis, and the Rhetoric of Time, in which the author argues that leaders construct time (both rhetorically and literally) in order to consolidate power in times of crisis. The book spoke to my personal interest in power and discursive practices, and inspired me to think in new ways. Because APSA is such a large event (the 2019 conference had about 6500 attendees!), there was a wide variety of panels and presentations spread across three hotels. The conference exposed me to ideas that I wasn’t familiar with before, such as food systems theory, which is interested in a critical understanding of how and by whom food is produced and consumed, as well as meanings attached to food.


I really appreciate the opportunity to attend the APSA conference. It allowed me to communicate with researchers in the field of political science and international relations. It also provided me with the opportunity to learn about the research topics that are currently popular in academia. One of the most memorable events I attended was a panel focused on the dynamics of state-building across time and space. In this panel, scholars from different universities around the world presented their works regarding influential factors in the formation of different states. Under the division of comparative politics, this panel included researchers using both quantitative and qualitative methodological approaches and focusing on various regions around the world.


APSA was my first ever time at a political science conference, so I had no idea what to expect going in. It was interesting seeing the relationships between scholars and policymakers play out right in front of me. At the panel hosted by William & Mary Professor Susan Peterson titled “Cult of the Irrelevant? The Influence of IR Scholarship of National Security” it was cool to see the effects of TRIP’s data dissemination efforts present in the work of policy makers. Other personal highlights included a panel titled “The People as Swarm, Crowd, & Rabble” that discussed the diverse language invoked across different political locations and historical junctures to describe populist political movements and crossing paths with George Washington University Professor and prolific Monkey Cage contributor Henry Farrell.


Aidan provides his thoughts on the above mentioned panel hosted by Susan Peterson:

Michael Horowitz’s optimistic counter to Desch provided a few interesting ideas. A focus on micro-change, instead of direct and high-level policy influence provides a new perspective. Utilizing outlets read by low- and mid-level policymakers, which our current project examines, may be a very effective way to involve academic knowledge in policy-making. I also think we should study the possible intersection of policy relevance and a necessary focus on quantitative methods and research design. When I look at journal articles with a policy prescription in the TRIP Journal Article Database, I find only a small difference between quantitative and all other articles’ use of explicit policy prescriptions. Just 4 percent of quantitative articles and 11 percent of all other articles include an explicit policy prescription. However, linking scholarly irrelevance to methodological focus obscures the feasibility of answering policy relevant questions with rigorous empirical methods, given the right incentives and clear communication.


I was so happy that we were able to have the RAs come up to Washington with us for this conference. I loved seeing them excited about the world of political science, and I thought we all really benefited from listening in on the ‘rigor-relevance’ debate at the Desch roundtable. I went to a few different panels on my own, and as a prospective graduate student, it was great to learn about the research going on at different universities and even meet some of the people whose work I admire. My favorite panel was on advancements in qualitative methods. Hearing about archival and field work methodologies rooted in sociology and anthropology research traditions that are being put to use in political science made me really excited about the possibilities of an interdisciplinary research agenda.

Finally, we would like to thank everyone who donated to TRIP for One Tribe One Day. Your generous donations gave us the opportunity to travel to DC and learn interesting new things about international relations and political science outside the classroom. These are the kinds of enlightening experiences that your donations pay for, and it is so important to our education and undergraduate research experience. Thank you!