Wednesday, January 10, 2007

My Responses to my Department's Ph.D. Program Retreat Discussion Questions

1. What do you think are the key themes, debates, issues, foci of research that characterize the discipline of political science, understood in its broadest sense?
I don't think it is possible to meaningfully characterize political science as a discipline in a broad sense at this time. This question presupposes an answer based in a coherent consensus on an orthodox theory of political science. But liberal political philosophy is becoming more and more removed from the empirical realities addressed by political scientists today and there is no indication that current political theory offers us a usable framework to come to terms with emerging trends in domestic and international politics.

2. What do you think are the the key themes, debates, issues, foci of research that need to be addressed by the discipline in the next five to ten years, in order to take into account the changed and changing nature of the political world?
I think that we need to do more teaching to make students aware that the political world is in fact changed and changing. My general impression is that our course offerings could use a major overhaul to bring us back up to the cutting edge of PoliSci. Of course this process would not exclude my own offerings. Having already passed the half-century mark, I realize more and more how easy it is to forget that political events and new ideas of 10 or 20 years ago may not be the most relevant and most important content when a lecture has to summarize the state of knowledge in a subject in just 50 minutes. We may wish to de-emphasize some focuses to make way for new content.

3. What are your research and scholarly interests and aims at present and in the next and five to ten years?
I expect to continue to work on the challenges to Canada of China and Northeast Asia and other "non-Western" areas to human rights discourse, development theory and international relations.