Ever wonder what your professors are actually doing when they attend a conference? The majority of the faculty recently attended the Annual Convention of the Midwest Political Science Association. The majority of the IR faculty at Iowa recently flew to Baltimore for the International Studies Association (ISA) annual convention. Here’s a look at what my ISA looked like:
Wednesday: Arrive in Baltimore. The conference is already underway!
- After getting rear ended on the way to the hotel, I get checked in and head to my first conference activity: WICS (women in conflict studies) networking hour. This is just an informal opportunity to meet other female scholars studying war. I got to catch up with some old friends and made a few new ones. I met several European scholars looking at civil conflict from a more comparative perspective. We had an interesting conversation about how our research interests overlapped, and I got some ideas for how to think about mediation from a new direction.
- Dinner and then back to the hotel to rest up for my presentation tomorrow morning (and practice a few more times!).
- I presented a paper with Prof. Lindsay Reid (another Carolina PhD now at UC-Davis) on a panel focused on mediation in civil wars (titled “Negotiations, Conflict Resolution, and Post-Conflict Outcomes”). Our paper focused on the role mediators play in shaping the terms of peace agreements. Our fellow panelists presented really interesting new research as well! Topics ranged from human rights (asking why some countries sign treaties they don’t abide by and why other countries abide by treaties they haven’t signed) to land reform provisions in peace agreements to thinking about how the international community can shape post-conflict peace and stability. We received useful feedback on our project and got to see what others are working on in the field as well. Overall an excellent panel!
- After the panel, Lindsay and I met up with other mediation scholars to discuss mediation data and its limitations over lunch. We brainstormed variables we wish we had and strategies for getting that data. We didn’t solve all of the data problems in one lunch, but we kick started a conversation that has continued by email and is hopefully turning into a workshop in October.
- After talking data, I met with a colleague to talk methods! He introduced me to a new machine learning technique called “Positive and unlabeled case learning” that will hopefully help advance parts of my research on multiparty mediation onset. Since then I’ve been reading about PU learning, mainly from a professor at the Univ. of Illinois Chicago.
- The rest of my Thursday was less structured, opening up time to go see other panels and see what other scholars are working on these days. You can peruse the entire program here. 281 pages of panels on every IR topic you can imagine!
- Throughout the morning I started two new projects. First, I’m contributing to an edited book project on international crises. I’ve also been looking for ways to apply network analysis to new areas of international relations. My second new project looks at identifying communities in international economic networks. These projects will continue by email and Skype, but getting them started in person was much easier. I’m excited to see how these projects develop!
- Friday evening brought the Scientific Study of International Processes (a subsection of ISA of which I am a member) business meeting (yes, business meetings are about as exciting as you’d imagine). Right after the meeting is always the poster session and reception. Poster sessions are always fun! You get to walk around and see what scholars are working on. You can learn a lot from a couple of minutes spent at a poster, reading the text and talking to its owner. Partnering the poster session with some snacks brings in a larger crowd and provides another opportunity to catch up with colleagues before we all go back to our corners of the world.
Saturday: Catch my 5:50 am flight out of BWI.
(Professor Menninga is teaching POLI:1500 Introduction to International Relations in the Fall 2017 semester)