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June 2021 Newsletter

Greetings from the Global Research Institute, where summer is off to a hopeful start. We miss our 2021 grads already, but look forward to homecoming events this fall in person! Since so many of our collaborative research projects had their genesis at BBQs, happy hours, dinner seminars, and chance meetings at the water cooler, we can’t wait to be back in person. While we have learned to flex during the pandemic, the experience has reinforced my view that there is no long-term substitute for face to face interaction if you want to maximize creativity and meaningful work. We not only crave human interaction; we need it to do high quality collaborative research.

If you want to reflect on the importance of face to face interaction, I’d encourage you to read the short essay below on the Biden-Putin summit by Professor Marcus Holmes. It is based, in part, on his book, Face to Face Diplomacy, which was workshopped here at GRI several years ago. You’ll find more timely pieces below, including a call for a more tailored approach to distributing vaccines, a how-to guide for field researchers, and findings from this year’s PIPS Fellows — who analyzed six international security challenges.
 
I hope to see you soon, and best wishes for a relaxing summer.

Best,
Mike

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Ignite

In a timely piece for Foreign Policy News, Ignite Director Dr. Carrie Dolan warns that moving on from the pandemic requires targeted vaccine distribution around the world. Tailoring vaccine plans for individual countries and communities will involve evaluating economic conditions, aid distribution, and more, but accounting for these location-based differences can put an end to the pandemic cycle, worldwide.

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International Justice Lab

New data from the TRIP Project show that nearly half of IR professors spent more class time discussing race in IR than they did the previous year. In Foreign Policy, IJL Director Dr. Kelebogile Zvobgo analyzes how demographic factors shaped these changes — with women and Democrats more likely than men and Republicans, respectively, to increase their attention to issues of race and racial justice in IR.

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AidData

AidData conducted a geospatial impact evaluation to quantify — for the first time — how demining efforts affected key development outcomes in Afghanistan. The project uncovered results of Afghanistan's decades-long process of landmine removal. “Casualty statistics, though terrible on their own, don’t paint the full picture of the disruption and destruction caused by landmines," said Rachel Sayers, a co-author of the report.

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Project on International Peace and Security

PIPS Fellows presented solutions to six pressing international challenges in the May 12 Symposium event, which featured discussant Dr. Fiona Hill and guests from the policy community. A video recap of the event offers key insights from the exchanges and conversations that occurred — outlining the relationship between various global issues, including climate displacement, exploitative fishing, and youth military education programs.

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Project on International Peace and Security

Insights from PIPS Fellow Nitya Labh ‘22 and Research Intern Lucas Hauser ‘23 earned publication in Australian Defence Magazine. The authors explain that climate change has caused storm floods, erosion, and rising sea levels that threaten the longevity of Pacific Island Countries (PICs). China can build great influence through land reclamation services, but Australia and the U.S. can prevent this with a three-pronged strategy.

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WMGIC

The Global Innovation Challenge at William & Mary (WMGIC) will expand its influence beyond 24 hours, as it works alongside partners to translate research proposals from the competition into projects with real-world impacts. This new initiative — made possible by GRI innovation funding — hopes to help solve global challenges in conservation and development by applying a multidisciplinary lens to WMGIC solutions.

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Teaching, Research, and International Policy Project

A recent TRIP snap poll asked International Relations scholars whether they supported or opposed President Biden’s efforts to engage Iran in informal discussions about compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), a nuclear deal. Researchers at Princeton and Columbia analyzed these results in a new Duck of Minerva article, finding significant differences between elites and the masses when it comes to U.S. policy toward Iran.

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AidData

A new AidData study used a dataset from Facebook's Data for Good initiative, which aims to solve pressing global issues. Since applying agricultural technologies to smallholder farms can increase productivity and boost resilience, AidData researchers studied social networks' impact on the diffusion of agricultural technology in sub-Saharan Africa. Results from this report can guide improvements at a national level, for policymakers, and at a community level, for farmers.

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International Justice Lab

Following the verdict in the Derek Chauvin murder trial, IJL Director Dr. Kelebogile Zvobgo published an op-ed in Foreign Policy titled "Justice for George Floyd Has Only Just Begun." She discusses why transitional justice should be integrated into the present moment — and how this approach goes beyond accountability. Confronting structural racism, she explains, requires systemic changes. Truth commissions, and transitional justice more broadly, are long overdue in the United States," she writes.

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GRI Affiliate

The New York Review of Books examines Women as War Criminals: Gender, Agency, and Justice, co-authored by GRI Affiliate Jessica Trisko Darden and Izabela Steflja. The book explains why women who commit crimes often evade blame, using the cases of Biljana Plavšić, Pauline Nyiramasuhuko, Lynndie England, and Hoda Muthana as examples of individuals who used gendered defenses.

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GRI Affiliate

In light of June 16's Biden-Putin summit, GRI Affiliate Marcus Holmes co-authored an op-ed for The Conversation, explaining how US-Russian summits have functioned in the past — even when they haven’t produced immediate improvements. This historical context can inform modern understandings of how an ongoing priority — mutual security — might be negotiated.

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International Justice Lab

Recognizing both the value of field research and the lack of consensus surrounding the approach, IJL Director Dr. Kelebogile Zvobgo shared lessons she learned internationally in “Field Research: A Graduate Student’s Guide.” The paper — published in International Studies Review — can support graduate students and early-career researchers as they implement this approach in their work.