Unless otherwise noted, sessions are held every other Tuesday from 12:45 to 2 p.m. in the Stassen Room (Room 170) of the Humphrey School of Public Affairs during the fall and spring semesters.
December 3, 2013: Joseph E. Schwartzberg, Distinguished International Emeritus Professor, UMN Department of Geography. Professor Schwartzberg, author of the new book, Transforming the United Nations System: Designs for a Workable World, argues that radical transformation of the United Nations system is both necessary and possible. Difficult though this will be, there are multiple ways by which it may happen. Essential to meaningful reform is a reconceptualization of our current paradigm of the "sovereign equality of nations," an unrealistic, outmoded legal fiction. Weighted voting, based on diverse mathematical formulae, each tailored to the functions of a specific UN agency (SC, GA, ECOSOC, etc.), provides the key to effecting needed change, especially the ability to craft binding resolutions. Also essential is increased involvement by additional actors: civil society, ordinary citizens (via a World Parliamentary Assembly) and corporations (via "Global Compacts"). New agencies (e.g., a UN Administrative Reserve Corps) are also needed. The goal is not to implement a utopian vision, but to build a "workable world."
November 19, 2013: Professor Paul M. Vaaler, Carlson School of Management, on: Explaining the Rise of Diaspora Institutions. Why do states establish and empower diaspora engagement institutions? Origin-state institutions dedicated to emigrants and their descendants have been largely overlooked in mainstream political studies, perhaps because they fall in the grey area between domestic politics and international relations. Now, diaspora institutions are found in over half of all United Nations member states. They may be quasi-governmental organizations or government agencies associated with origin-state legislatures or executive branches, sometimes comprising a separate ministry with cabinet status. Yet we have little theory and broad-sample statistical evidence to guide our understanding about when such institutions are more likely to emerge and increase in importance within origin state politics. In response, we identify and then investigate empirical support for three theoretically-grounded perspectives on diaspora institution emergence and importance: instrumentally rational states tapping resources of emigrants and their descendants; value-rational states embracing lost members of the nation-state; institutionally-converging states governing diasporas consistent with global norms. We document support for these alternative perspectives in regression and related analyses modeling diaspora institution emergence and importance in 144 states observed from 1990-2010. Tapping perspective estimations exhibit better overall model fit compared to estimations based on other perspectives. Estimations combining perspectives exhibit the best model fit. Individual terms exhibiting signs contrary to prediction suggest new directions for theoretical and empirical research from different perspectives. We advance international relations research by identifying, distinguishing and testing alternative perspectives explaining diaspora institution emergence and importance. We also advance international relations practice and policy with evidence-guided insight on near-term trends in diaspora institution emergence and importance. A working paper with the same title as this presentation is available electronically at: https://sites.google.com/a/umn.edu/paul-vaaler/home/working-papers
November 5, 2013: Lecturer Sherry Gray,, UMN Humphrey School, on Fearing China, Loving China: 40 years of Watching Americans Watch China. Sherry Gray will draw upon nearly 40 years of watching China, andwatching US commentators try to make sense of one of the fastestchanging, young-old societies on earth. How far (or not) have USpublic views moved from fearing Mao’s armies of blue ants—while lovingthe Great Wall—to fearing today’s armies of Chinesemanufacturers—while loving the Beijing arts scene? We fear China’sgeographical size, large population, military spending, andgroup-oriented culture, but we love China’s long political history,diverse regions, and, especially, its ancient high cultures. Indefining China, the code words we use—dynamism, debt, and pollution; innovation, corruption, and failings in human rights; opportunism,military aggressiveness, and inequality—define the US as much, ormore, than it defines China.
October 22, 2013: Professor Sarah Parkinson, UMN Humphrey School, on The Old Guard and the Die Hards: Generational Effects, Money, and Cohesion in Militant Organizations. How does access to external funding affect militant organizations’ structures and behaviors? Recent events in the Middle East have spurred extensive debate over the impact of providing financial support and non-lethal aid to insurgencies in countries such as Libya and Syria. These deliberations not only force scholars to examine the causes and geopolitical consequences of economic intervention in civil war, but also to study the relationship between rebel finance and militants’ long-term adaptive trajectories.Drawing on over nine months of organizational ethnography among Fateh cadres in Lebanon, this paper argues that the ways militants talk about money provide key insights into their conceptualization of organizational membership and into their reflexivity as political and social actors. Professor Parkinson demonstrates that in Fateh, money-centered discourse—specifically, money talk transmitted through rumors, complaints, and jokes—flows across gender, age, family, and subunit divisions and produces different organizational “generations” depending on time of recruitment. This paper thus challenges extant research on the economics of rebellion by examining non-material aspects of finance and by connecting money talk to militant behavior.
October 8, 2013: Professor Pamm Smith, UMN Applied Economics, on Trade in Genetically Modified Organisms. Professor Smith examines the character and determinants of international trade in crops that are intensive in genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Findings show that land endowments are the primary source of comparative advantage in the GMO-intensive industries before and after GMO adoption. An increase in a country's allocation of land endowments to GMO crops has a positive effect on the country's net exports in the GMO-intensive industries. This positive effect is shown both across countries and time. A country's portfolio of GMO regulations has an insignificant effect on comparative advantage. Nevertheless, some component policies have a positive trade effect, and some other policies, including those about labeling, have a negative trade effect for select industries.
September 24, 2013: Professor Myles Shaver,Department of Strategic Management, Carlson School, on Minnesota and the Twin Cities as a Corporate Headquarters Cluster. Citizens of the Twin Cities know that this is home for a number of large corporate headquarters and a dynamic business community. In this talk, Professor Shaver showed what this level of corporate headquarters activity looks like compared to other states and how it has changed over time. The data paint a picture that few people - even within our community – will easily recognize. Although still work in progress, Professor Shaver presented his thoughts on the factors behind the present situation and how his perspective differs from current views of regional economic clusters.
September 10, 2013: Professor Ragui Assaad, Humphrey School of Public Affairs, on "A Possibly Futile Attempt to Make Sense of Events in Egypt." Professor Assaad tries to make sense of current developments in Egypt by going beyond news headlines and situating them in the recent history of the Egyptian revolution. He lays out the constellation of political actors and the shifting coalitions among them in an attempt to explain the severe polarization that currently exists in Egyptian politics. Rather than seek clarity through simple characterizations of the situation, he instead highlights the complexities of the fast-moving situation and cautions against rushed or simplistic responses.
Past Workshop videos and PowerPoint presentations:
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Orville L. Freeman served as the 29th governor of Minnesota between January 5, 1955 to January 2, 1961. Read more...
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