Posts by catarinatully

Outcomes of the ISA Roundtable on Strategic Foresight in International Relations – Get Involved Now

24 May

At the International Studies Association 2014 annual conference in Toronto I organised a Roundtable entitled ‘Bridging the Gap: The Art and Practice of Strategic Foresight in International Relations’. About 45 of us discussed the role of Strategic Foresight in International Relations. We had a great mix of practitioners and academics, including, Antti Kaski, Rob Del, Jairus Grove, Andrew Dorman, Deborah Larson, Kari Möttölä, Josef Teboho Ansorge, Philippe Dufort, Peter Feavor, and Aubrey Yee. There was also a super rich contribution from participants on the day, and the approximately 50 respondees from the survey on strategic foresight in IR I carried out in the weeks leading up to the Roundtable.

Some thoughts that particularly stood out for me from this rich discussion:
•Definitional issues still need to be carefully negotiated when discussing Strategic Foresight. There was some agreement around a two sentence definition of Strategic Foresight, but differences were clear around the purpose of and approach to the field (incremental/predictive versus long-term/alternatives). Scoping this out and formalising a common language that can embrace both but avoids crossed wires would be helpful.
•We had mainly policy-makers and practitioners and some academics in the room. Some big IR academic theorists were mentioned: Jervis, Ikenberry, Slaughter, Inayatullah, Gravo, Finger, Ward, Deudney. Could they be brought into the conversation?

My @Wikistrat Report Released: “The Bicentennial Woman”

10 Mar

The first 200-year old woman is coming – or maybe she is already here…

With the 21st century promising to be the “century of biology”, one can plausibly conceive of a human – most logically a woman – finally breaking the 200-year age barrier. She will probably be born within the next century: indeed, some experts believe that the first “Bicentennial Woman” (BCW) may already be alive today

Wanted – Your views on how Strategic Foresight should be integrated into the academic field of International Relations – for #futureday

28 Feb

Is the academic field of International Relations losing out because it doesn’t embrace foresight thinking? What can we do about this? If you have views and thoughts on this, read on and fill out the survey.

This year, at the International Studies Association 2014 Conference, I am hosting a Roundtable on the use of strategic foresight in International Relations, entitled: ‘Spaces and Places: Geopolitics in an Era of Globalization’. The purpose of this Roundtable is to bring together International Relations scholars and practitioners to discuss the role of strategic foresight in international relations, and to strengthen the community of interest to take this endeavour forward. To prepare for this Roundtable I am conducting a survey on the practice of strategic foresight in international relations, and am seeking your views on this issue.

Strategic foresight approaches, when incorporated into long-term planning processes, can have significant impact on international policy-making. Looking beyond the shape of present challenges and opportunities to those rising up on the horizon is arguably an indispensable and necessary role of government. At this time of geopolitical uncertainty, there is growing interest in this approach to understand developments in the spatial dimensions of foreign policy. Yet foresight has a strangely marginal position in the International Relations academic sphere and is largely absent from most International Relations faculties and courses. Questions remain about the effectiveness of strategic foresight in influencing decision-making.

Going Beyond Kristoff’s “Is Being Academic Being Irrelevant?” – The Example of Academics Stand Against Poverty

19 Feb

Nicholas Kristoff has stirred quite a controversy by critiquing in his NYT blog the (self)- isolation of US Academia from the policy community. My initial reaction is to agree with at least some of the conclusions he draws – especially about the rarified nature of political science. From a personal perspective, having attended the International Studies Association conference pretty much every year for the past decade, it is getting less and less interesting/relevant to a policy person. The field appears to be crushed by a lack of imagination, excess quantitative analysis, a lack of insight into or experience of the policy-making world by young academics, and excess incentives around influencing the esoteric academic debate rather than real world challenges.

On the other hand, there are many examples of academics reaching out to influence the policy-making community and wider conversations among citizens. Academics Stand Against Poverty is one of these groups. This organisation (I am on the board supporting the national chapters) is an international professional association focused on helping poverty researchers and teachers enhance their positive impact on severe poverty. It does so by promoting collaboration among poverty-focused academics, effective outreach to policy makers and broader public audiences, and by helping academics turn their expertise into impact through specific intervention projects. One of their projects is Impact Global Poverty, an online series of articles and interviews detailing how academics have approached the promotion of direct positive impact on poverty alleviation policy and practice.

From the Israeli MFA – AWOL

13 Aug

There’s no real logical reason why, but the thought of diplomats on strike just seems a bit incongruous..The ongoing dispute between the Israeli MFA and Treasury seem to continue, with farcical results (US NIC officials being booted out of office meeting rooms, Kerry’s retinue not having sufficient visas for visit).

Teaching Strategy at Ranepa’s Summer Campus

12 Aug

Cat recently travelled to Russia to carry out a one-day training at Ranepa’s Summer Campus, which took place this year in Tatarstan between the 18-28 July. The event hosted 300 hundred students and provided lectures and workshops from top figures in government, business and society. Aimed at developing a new generation of leaders, it provided the students with a valuable opportunity to acquire knowledge and form professional competencies in their areas of interest. Lectures and workshops were conducted by bureaucrats and ministers from various levels of administration, Russian and foreign experts, and top managers of large state and public companies.

Thoughts on EU stuff, including intergenerational equity and EU membership as a variably-valued asset

8 Jul

This month I attended a Gatehouse Roundtable event, which focused on ‘Brexit: What future for Europe and the UK’.

The roundtable explored the declining British influence in the EU and the deficits of the current EU system, involving a lovely confluence of: a breakdown in relations between Germany and France; the issue of a democratic deficit within the EU; and the internal weakness of leadership in the European Commission. Let alone the ongoing economic crisis.

The Gap in Open Government Innovations: Empowering Decision-Makers

2 Jul

While the blog post ‘Open government: The one innovation we’re missing’ praises the increased use of social innovation tools that empower citizens to influence the government, it also argues that empowering the decision makers is a key problem that is often overlooked.  Justyna Król addresses the challenges faced by government officials in adopting open government […]