SNIS Day 2 – The Policy Relevance of Research

Video of the podium discussion, SNIS Conference, 16 October 2009
Video of the podium discussion, SNIS Conference, 16 October 2009

The second day of the SNIS conference was devoted to interaction between the academic and policy worlds (I introduced the conference in my previous post).

While everyone agreed that not all research must necessarily be policy relevant, the participants stressed the need for more cooperation.

The tension between demand-driven research and academic excellence dominated the discussions. On the one hand, research should provide information to help solve practical policy problems. On the other hand however, research must remain independent from the policy realm in order to guarantee objectivity and innovation.

A panelist argued that this tension was very present among European researchers, but that it didn’t bother US academics as much. Fellow Americans, if you read this, how did you solve the problem?

Here are a few (summarized) thoughts from panelists, both academics and policymakers.

Business and Finance

Swiss International Studies, Migration and Finance

Swiss Network for International Studies /
Swiss Network for International Studies /

I’m writing from Bern, where I’m attending the Swiss Network for International Studies‘ (SNIS) first yearly conference. The Network was established two years ago to promote interdisciplinary research in issues of international relevance among Swiss academics.

The international relations field is still pretty new at Swiss universities. It might well be a corollary of the fact that, for much of the past century, the country’s neutrality in international politics boiled down to passivity. Several speakers at the first day of the conference reminded us that Switzerland only joined the UN in 2002.

In any case, the young Swiss’ interest in international affairs is exploding at the moment: A Geneva professor talked to me about the exponential rise in student numbers since his university launched an undergraduate program in international relations.

Here are two highlights from the first day of the conference – based on my own biased personal interests…


International Relations Podcasts- The Best and the Brightest

At home or on the go- podcasts, photo: _Morrissey_ /flickr
At home or on the go- podcasts, photo: _Morrissey_ /flickr

In the same vein as our list of interesting international relations actors on Facebook, we put together a list of interesting audio sources for you to explore (again, in random order).

1. Council on Foreign Relations Podcasts

2. London School of Economics Public Lectures and Events Podcasts

3. UCLA Burkle Center for International Relations Podcasts

4. World Radio Switzerland Podcasts on International Relations

5. The Economist Audio and Video

6. Carnegie Council Podcasts

7. C-SPAN Radio

8. New York Times World View Podcast

9. BBC Radio From Our Own Correspondent Series

10. World Politics Review Podcasts

Some, like C-SPAN, provide a live stream of congressional events, speeches and hearings (often on foreign affairs); others offer insights into current affairs drawn from expert interviews, while the Economist, for example, provides audio summaries of their Special Reports and a weekly podcast outlining the key events to look out for in the days ahead. The London School of Economics and the UCLA Burkle Center for International Relations provide audio and video files of speeches and public lectures held at the schools on a wide variety of topics and often by high profile speakers.

And remember that we can also be found on the audio airwaves – enjoy ISN podcasts at home or on the go!

Any other podcasters that deserve a mention?

International Relations on Facebook – the Best and the Brightest

Engagement through Facebook, photo: Scott Beale / Laughing Squid / flickr
Engagement through Facebook, photo: Scott Beale / Laughing Squid / flickr

While hardly a comprehensive list of top IR Facebookers, we thought we’d put together a top ten of interesting organizations and personalities to follow on Facebook (in no particular order).

Many provide neat and easy access and links to their newest content; others encourage active debate and exchange of views on their ‘Discussion’ board. US Forces in Afghanistan even provide picture series (in the ‘Boxes’ section) that show the daily work of troops in the Afghan theater. For others still, Facebook provides an avenue for engagement with hitherto ‘distant’ audiences – Admiral Mike Mullen’s Flickr stream and Twittering come to mind.

If you know of other interesting, engaged and insightful Facebookers in the IR field, please let us know and add your suggestions to the ‘Comments’ section.

And please remember that you can find us on Facebook and Twitter too.

Happy Facebooking!

1. The Atlantic

2. Foreign Policy Magazine

3. US Forces in Afghanistan

4. Al Jazeera

5. World Economic Forum

6. Oxfam (GB)

7. Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

8. Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

9. Council on Foreign Relations

10. United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR)