Teaching, Research & International Policy (TRIP)

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Outcomes in international relations (IR) have changed dramatically over the past 30 years. The sudden and peaceful end of the Cold War, dramatic increases in interdependence, the diffusion of democracy, the role of social media and the rise of non-state actors have all shaped outcomes and put new policy issues on the agenda.

Are students and scholars of IR equipped to assist policy makers as they confront this rapidly changing world? Conversely, does research and teaching in IR have any influence on the real world of international politics and policy making? Almost no systematic research has been done to document empirical patterns or verify causal hypotheses along these lines. The TRIP project seeks to remedy these shortcomings by creating new datasets and analyzing the relationships illustrated on the right.

Numerous qualitative and quantitative data collections that capture important features of international policy and politics, including data on trade flows, conflict processes, crisis decision making, terrorist attacks, aid flows, the diffusion of democracy, number and type of NGOs, event data, etc…already exist and are located in the lower right hand box of the triad. We lack good data, however, for the other two corners of the triad-teaching (lower left) and research (top middle). Our project seeks to balance the triad and provide the sound descriptive basis upon which specific empirical conjectures and theoretically derived hypotheses might be tested.

To date, this project has three major empirical components. First, we explore which regions, issues, paradigms, methods, epistemologies, etc... have been employed over time in IR research by coding articles published in the top 12 IR and political science journals from 1980 to 2011. Second, we measure trends in IR research and teaching with results from an extensive survey of IR professors who teach and/or do research at colleges and universities in 20 different countries. Finally, we have initiated a diverse range of pilot data collection efforts by partnering with other scholars and institutions. To date we have supported the collection and analysis of survey data from current and former U.S. policy makers and gathered data on research published in books, rather than just journal articles. Further, TRIP has launched a series of “snap polls” that survey IR scholars on current events shaping international politics and policy. These poll results will be released as soon as the data has been tabulated and reviewed.

Our goal in all three stages of data collection is to compare scholarship and pedagogy to see whether or not scholars teach the same paradigms, methods, issue areas and regions that they employ and examine in their own research. We use these data to ask similar questions about the impact (or lack of impact) on the thinking of practitioners.

In short, how does research influence teaching and vice versa? How do international politics and policy influence the way we teach and study IR? How do research and teaching influence the policy-making process? A necessary step that must precede any descriptive or causal inference is the crucial task of accurately measuring our variables of interest. This will allow scholars to answer a range of questions located along the three sides of our inter-related triad.