At the John C. Whitehead School of Diplomacy and International Relations, graduate students are encouraged to reach beyond the works of scholars and professionals read in class, to develop their own ideas and produce original research and publications. Several of our students are presenting their original research at prestigious conferences this year, among Ph.D. students, scholars and professionals. Below are a few examples of the Whitehead School’s finest.
Courtney Page, a second year graduate student, will present her research at the next annual convention of the International Studies Association (ISA) to be held in San Francisco, California in the spring of 2013. The ISA currently has more than 5,000 members from over 80 countries that share the goal of channeling communication between academics and policy makers, promoting new resources and publications. With a personal interest in disaster relief and disaster management, Courtney has chosen to complement her international relations studies by pursuing graduate specializations in international organizations and global health at the Whitehead School. Her research integrated these foci by reviewing the Hyogo Framework for Action 2005-2015 (HFA), the document that led the World Conference on Disaster Reduction in 2005 and assists the efforts of governments around the world to take action to reduce disaster risk and improve natural-hazard coping strategies. Courtney analyzed why states have implemented measures of the HFA and which agents have been instrumental in the implementation process. On a broader scale, she also investigated which regional and international institutions and nongovernmental organizations have been influential in expanding norms of disaster preparedness among states, as well as the degree by which they have been able to influence the state’s preparedness. In a previous study, Courtney undertook a quantitative analysis, suggesting that an increased level of foreign aid allows for more influence in disaster preparedness and greater implementation of the HFA guidelines, therefore making the HFA more effective. Courtney is completing studies for her dual MPA/MA degree, and will further pursue doctoral studies in International Relations.
Joshua Hastey, also a Whitehead graduate student, has taken his research on the road as well. Joshua presented his work to the International Securities Sections of the ISA Northeast, at the International Securities Studies Symposium (ISSS), held in Chapel Hill, North Carolina on October 5, 2012. In November 2012, Joshua headed north to present his research at the Northeastern Political Science Association (NPSA) conference in Boston, Massachusetts. Both conferences annually bring together scholars of political science with the purpose of enhancing and expanding their knowledge on innovative and effective security methods. Joshua, who is specializing in international security and foreign policy analysis, explored three competing explanations of the outbreak of the 1979 Sino-Vietnamese War– the timed balance of power, false optimism, and the options of window theory which balances each actor’s prospective gains and losses. In the research that Joshua co-authored with fellow Whitehead graduate student John Henzel, they argue that false optimism is not a helpful explanation for the outbreak of this war, and while balance of power does provide some insight, it does not explain the causes of the war as thoroughly as through the lens of window theory. In fact, Joshua and John found that there were interesting implications to the scope of window theory in regards to the manner in which the leaders of each belligerent actor managed their own opportunities before the war.
Independently from his work with Joshua, John utilized his background knowledge on East Asia to write an op-ed for the China-US Focus, an academic publications site established by the China-United States Exchange Foundation to promote improvement in the bilateral relationship shared between China and the United States. In his publication John discusses the growing maritime dispute between China and Japan over the Diaoyu or Senkaku islands. He further explains that the event has been kindling for a number of years in the region, but with the recent demonstrations in China– a very visible symbol of nationalist sentiment –the event grew internationally. John lived in Japan through the 2010 collision incident over the islands. He comments that his first-hand experience in Japan helped ignite his interest in the conflict, and lead the way to his specializations in international security and foreign policy analysis at the Whitehead School. Throughout his internship at the Maureen & Mike Mansfield Foundation, an organization that works to promote cooperation amongst the United States and Asia, John was able to attend several seminars in Washington, D.C. that helped him to recognize that many decision-makers paint the issue in an overly simplistic light and that the implications for the conflict go beyond the resource necessities China has as a growing power. John adds that his theory coursework at the Whitehead School has helped him to appreciate the significance of profound analysis, while courses like China’s Foreign Relations, taught by international security specialist Dr. Yinan He, have provided him with a broader understanding of Chinese decision-making and diplomacy. John also recognizes his appreciation for the guidance and advice that his master’s research project professor, Dr. Martin Edwards, provided. He explains that Dr. Edwards helped him to build practical, professional knowledge, such as how to market one’s own work, how to get published, and how to stand out to editors, all the while stretching one’s academic ability. John credits his experience writing for the Global Current, a student news-radio show on Seton Hall’s award-winning station, WSOU 89.5 FM, as being especially influential in developing his strong writing skills. As for advice to fellow students interested in getting published, John suggests leaving no stone unturned, he recommends students submit their work to the Journal of Diplomacy Blog, to be featured in a Global Current broadcast, the School’s student newspaper or even renowned magazines such as Foreign Policy. Following the completion of his Master’s degree, John intends to pursue a career in policy work, and may further advance his education by completing a Ph.D.
The environment of opportunities created by the School prepares graduate students like Courtney, Joshua and John with a strong synthesis of knowledge in a diverse array of specializations to aptly and innovatively confront the demands of the ever expanding platform of international affairs.
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