Category Archives: teaching

How The Middle East Got That Way: Fromkin Used History to Explain Politics

If you haven’t read A Peace to End All Peace, add it to your summer reading list immediately. David Fromkin, a professor of International Relations at Boston University is a prolific author and scholar whose book provides a historical look at the creation of the modern Middle East–with an eye toward geography, conflict, and the decisions taken post-WWI the shaped the regions storied history.

In a Foreign Affairs review of the book, John C. Campbell writes that “Fromkin’s history is made by men rather than impersonal forces.”

 

Fromkin wrote about other seminal issues in 20th century international relations, such as the origins of the Great War, post-war relations and reconstruction, and the fate of key theoretical constructs such as idealism and realism, as embodied in institutions and programs:

In 1995, he wrote “In the Time of the Americans: F.D.R., Truman, Eisenhower, Marshall, MacArthur — the Generation That Changed America’s Role in the World,” in which he argued that after World War II Americans were given a rare second chance to correct the shortcomings of Woodrow Wilson’s one-world idealism.

As Richard Reeves wrote in The New York Times Book Review, “The United Nations is Wilsonian; NATO represents the kind of big-power peace enforcement envisioned by T.R.”Among Professor Fromkin’s other books were “Europe’s Last Summer: Who Started the Great War in 1914?” (2004), which the journalist Avedis Hadjian, writing for CNN.com, called “a fast-paced, gripping guide through the complex set of reasons and emotions that led to the 20th century’s seminal conflict”; and “The King and the Cowboy: Theodore Roosevelt and Edward the Seventh, Secret Partners” (2008).

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Hacking for Diplomacy

New class at Stanford that is part-technology, another part-diplomatic trouble-shooting:

Hacking for Diplomacy starts in the fall. The courses ask government officials for specific challenge ideas—in Hacking for Defense, some worked on a communication app, others on a wearable device that can monitor a diver’s physiological traits and students applied in teams to work on individual projects.

One of Blank’s goals was to show tech-minded students their skills could solve problems facing the government, just as they might in the consumer or business worlds, he told Nextgov. The class might “provide another venue” for civic-minded students to help the government, in addition to joining new and much-hyped federal groups such as 18F or the U.S. Digital Service.

http://m.nextgov.com/defense/2016/08/stanfords-hacking-defense-class-expands-diplomacy/130840/

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Terry Gross on How to Talk to Anyone

Diplomats, salespeople, missionaries, and journalists all talk to people. Some do it better than others. But nobody does it as well as Terry Gross, the NRP interviewer par excellance–who kept me informed and entertained as I worked a painting conservation job in college, swabbing dirt inch-by-inch across a gigantic, room-filling canvas. Foam-covered 1980’s era headphones attached to a Sony AM/FM/cassette Walkman were my lifeline to a world of fascinating ideas and people, thanks to Gross.

So when I saw this piece by Susan Burton on the art and craft of WHYY in Philadelphia’s master interviewer I wanted to see what could be learned. One insight: it takes a lot of work (and a little luck) to get a “real moment” in a hard-earned conversation, and it can be uncomfortable:

When the interview ended, Gross and her producers asked themselves, ‘‘Are we going to keep that in the edit?’’ Yes, they decided: ‘‘Maybe there’s not a really satisfactory, conclusive answer,’’ but ‘‘it felt like a real moment.’’ Gross went on: ‘‘Even if the real moment isn’t somebody being really honest and forthcoming and introspective, a real moment of friction, a real moment of tension, is still a real moment.’’

Occasionally the ‘‘real moments’’ can be awkward for Gross. In July, in an interview with the writer Ta-Nehisi Coates, Gross began laughing in response to a story he told about being yelled at by a teacher. ‘‘See, it sounds like you’re laughing because, like, it’s funny if you’ve never been in the environment,’’ Coates said. Some on social media pegged Gross as a clueless white lady. But the exchange was constructive. Gross was simply reacting, and then listening as Coates explained his perception of her reaction. In doing so, he illuminated an experience of growing up in a culture of fear and violence.

Source: Terry Gross and the Art of Opening Up – The New York Times

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The Disadvantages of Peace (According to Michael Desch)

Thanks to Professor Walt, we get this interesting peace on academic research by Michael Desch in International Organization in 1996 on why giving peace a chance may not work.

Don’t get me wrong: I think peace is wonderful, and I wish more politicians talked about it openly and did more to further it. But prolonged periods of peace may also have a downside: They allow divisions within different societies to grow and deepen.But prolonged periods of peace may also have a downside: They allow divisions within different societies to grow and deepen. Even worse, they may eventually drive the world back toward war.

Source: The Case Against Peace | Foreign Policy

Over the last two decades, Walt sees this idea latin better than other IR standards such as the “end of history” or “clash of civilizations”.

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Northwestern Faculty veto Karl Eikenberry for global studies institute

The newest university addition to global studies is an institute is based at Northwestern and funded by Warren Buffet with a gift of $101 million (Wow). Trustees found an ideal new director: aformer Ambassador to Afghanistan, three-star Army general who had lived in Korea (twice), China (three times), Italy, Belgium and Afghanistan. He is currently a distinguished fellow at Stanford’s Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center, with two master’s degrees–from Standord and Harvard. So what’s the problem?

The deal, announced in November, fell through months later, after a surprising debate erupted about Eikenberry’s qualifications and his views on the value of the humanities and social sciences as elements of “soft power” in U.S. foreign policy. The dispute at the elite private university in north suburban Evanston reflected the power of faculty dissidents as a check on university administrators, as well as conflicting views on the value of military and diplomatic experience for advancement in academia.

Source: How Northwestern faculty derailed retired general’s global studies job – Chicago Tribune

Reasons behind the petition and faculty intransigence appear to arise from his lacking a Ph.D.  It may also stem from perceived faculty view that “the Unviersity’s core mission of independent research and teaching becomes identified with U.S. military and foreign.”  policy. More on the controversy, explained by North by Northwestern.

 

Argument Mapping with Debategraph

A great little tool to map out views on the Global Goals, Peace in the Middle East, Nuclear Politics, or more, run by a non-profit founded by Peter Baldwin and David Price. It has been used by CNN, the White House, and the Independent as a unique pedagogical tool to explain complex ideas.

Tutorial Prezi

 

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The Power of Kids Debating: Kings and Queens of Speech

Here’s a pitch: let’s show the power of speech and debate to help kids make it through school (and life). Good news. It exists, thanks to this Sky 1 show following 20 students as they attend an after schoolclubs. And it  ends up in Parliament….brilliant!

The result is an eight-part series from the people behind Educating Yorkshire called The Kings & Queens Of Speech, which tries to transform the children into confident young adults by encouraging them to speak up. The first six episodes each focus on a different British school as teams of pupils are trained in debating skills. The winning team from each school will then travel to the Oxford Union to compete in the semi-finals, with the final being held at Parliament, where they’ll learn a thing or two from the pros (or should that be teach them a thing or two?).

The project is the brainchild of the charity Debate Mate, which takes children who would never traditionally be involved in debating societies and gives them 16 weeks of intensive training. It works in 200 schools across Britain, and claims to help 4,500 disadvantaged students each week.‘Our school did have a debating team, but it was made up of the sort of boys you’d expect to find – the high achievers,’ explains Mr Whiteley. ‘The remit here was to ask different types of boys to get involved.’

Source: The shy boy who’ll make you cry:  It’s another tear-jerker from the team behind Educating Yorkshire, this time empowering timid pupils through debate | Daily Mail Online

 

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The Ethics of Lying

Is Plato right? Is there such thing as the “noble lie“? The philosopher Sissela Bok created a “test of publicity” to determine if its ok to lie: would it survive the appeal for justification to reasonable persons?

Gerald Dworkin, emeritus professor at UC Davis argues that “there ought to be a strong presumption in favor of honesty” but that it can be overridden more frequently than we anticipate.

He cites the following as permissible lies–and asks for feedback as to why we might disagree. Try it:

1. A man lies to his wife about where they are going in order to get her to a place where a surprise birthday party has been organized.

2. A young child is rescued from a plane crash in a very weakened state. His parents have been killed in the crash but he is unaware of this. He asks about his parents and the attending physician says they are O.K. He intends to tell the truth once the child is stronger.

3. Your father suffers from severe dementia and is in a nursing home. When it is time for you to leave he becomes extremely agitated and often has to be restrained. On the occasions when you have said you would be back tomorrow he was quite peaceful about your leaving. You tell him now every time you leave that you will be back tomorrow knowing that in a very short time after you leave he will have forgotten what you said.

4. A woman’s husband drowned in a car accident when the car plunged off a bridge into a body of water. It was clear from the physical evidence that he desperately tried to get out of the car and died a dreadful death. At the hospital where his body was brought his wife asked the physician in attendance what kind of death her husband suffered. He replied, “He died immediately from the impact of the crash. He did not suffer.”

5. In an effort to enforce rules against racial discrimination “testers” were sent out to rent a house. First, an African-American couple claiming to be married with two children and an income that was sufficient to pay the rent would try to rent a house. If they were told that the house was not available, a white tester couple with the same family and economic profile would be sent. If they were offered the rental there would be persuasive evidence of racial discrimination.

6. In November of 1962, during the Cuban Missile crisis, President Kennedy gave a conference. When asked whether he had discussed any matters other than Cuban missiles with the Soviets he absolutely denied it. In fact, he had promised that the United States would remove missiles from Turkey.

7. A woman interviewing for a job in a small philosophy department is asked if she intends to have children. Believing that if she says (politely) it’s none of their business she will not get the job, she lies and says she does not intend to have a family.

8. In order to test whether arthroscopic surgery improved the conditions of patients’ knees a study was done in which half the patients were told the procedure was being done but it was not. Little cuts were made in the knees, the doctors talked as if it were being done, sounds were produced as if the operation were being done. The patients were under light anesthesia. It turned out that the same percentage of patients reported pain relief and increased mobility in the real and sham operations. The patients were informed in advance that they either would receive a real or a sham operation.

9. I am negotiating for a car with a salesperson. He asks me what the maximum I am prepared to pay is. I say $15,000. It is actually $20,000.

10. We heap exaggerated praise on our children all the time about their earliest attempts to sing or dance or paint or write poems. For some children this encouragement leads to future practice, which in turn promotes the development–in some — of genuine achievement.

Source: Are These 10 Lies Justified? – The New York Times

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A Peace Studies Curriculum | Colman McCarthy

Do you think every high school student should graduate having taken a course in peace and conflict resolution? Colman McCarthy thinks so, and he makes his case here:

 

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Feeling Uncertain? A Key to Effective Negotiation

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A new book, Nonsense: The Power of Not Knowing  by John Holmes of New America offers and exploration through social psychology of how we deal with overwhelming complexity, simplification as a coping mechanism, and the implications for time-sensitive interactions.

Holmes: There has been some suggestion that there are certain professions where you have to deal with ambiguity under a high degree of stress and one of them is negotiation. There’s a lot of literature that says business negotiations require dealing with ambiguity under pressure, which is going to naturally raise everyone’s need for closure. So Kruglanski says, look, one way to combat this is just hire people who are low in need for closure. Now there’s a simple test [for that], there’s a 15-question test, it’s on my website.Via the Atlantic

Take the test and see where you fit. Holmes suggests that tolerance for ambiguity is a key factor in getting to a deal or decision.

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