What Makes a Great Scholar? » Duck of Minerva

This is an article drawing on the lessons we can learn from the work and life of Kenneth Waltz, one of the most influential IR theorists of the last century.

What Makes a Great Scholar? » Duck of Minerva.

Some highlights:

First, ask big and important questions. Start with the question and the puzzle to something big and relevant.

 

Third, quality scholarship takes time….he was given the professional latitude to publish his books a decade apart. I’m curious if that would be good enough for tenure and promotion at Berkeley or Columbia today?

 

take a position and engage in rigorous debate on the ideas to hone logic and argument.

“Behavioral International Law”

Opinio Juris is hosting a discussion of the “behavioral” approach to international law, beginning with a post by Tomer Broude. As he begins to describe it,

the behavioral research agenda aims to explore the characteristics of real decision-making processes of different types of actors, under different circumstances.

This approach might be useful for some of my International Law students who are currently working on drafts of their research papers (hopefully!).

More gunfire after Kenyan forces assault Nairobi’s Westgate mall – CNN.com

CNN is reporting that at least 1 American was among the wounded and that Americans are alleged to be among the attackers.

Before its Twitter account was suspended, Al-Shabaab issued a list of nine names it said were among the attackers. It said three were from the United States, two from Somalia and one each from Canada, Finland, Kenya and the United Kingdom.

A senior State Department official said that the United States was trying to determine whether any of the attackers are American. While they were still working to verify the claims, authorities said they were becoming more confident that American citizens may be involved.

via More gunfire after Kenyan forces assault Nairobi’s Westgate mall – CNN.com.

Our diplomatic fortresses: An Op-Ed on Benghazi by Boduszyński

An op-ed from a good friend and colleague. As the quote below suggests, our reaction to the Benghazi attacks has had some unfortunate consequences.

The Road from Benghazi by Mieczysław Boduszyński – Project Syndicate.

After the Benghazi attacks, I grieved not only for my fallen colleagues, but also for the loss of the chance to deepen a relationship that had, in Qaddafi’s final years, consisted mainly of counterterrorism efforts, limited commercial relations, and historical issues, such as the 1988 Lockerbie bombing. Stevens, who championed a more comprehensive approach, would have been devastated to witness the fortress that the US embassy became after his death.

Noted: AidData has updates

Update: AidData has a rejoinder to Brautigam. Available here and worth the read: http://blog.aiddata.org/2013/05/a-rejoinder-to-rubbery-numbers-on.html

An email I received yesterday has the following highlights:

Updated AidData Database: AidData

New China Aid Database: china.aiddata.org

However, Deborah Brautigam has some very, very important critiques of this database: “Rubbery Numbers on Chinese Aid”. For instance, she comments one of AidData’s papers based on their new data:

Table 2 in the paper provides a good example of the problems. It contains 20 Chinese “megadeals” totaling over US$38 billion. But only 6 of these 20 projects — less than a third — reflect actual deals (Ghana $3 bn CDB credit; Equatorial Guinea $2 bn credit; Angola Phase 1 $1.5 bn, CDB loan to Angola for agriculture $1.2 bn; Cameroon Memve’ele Dam $674 million; Nigeria light rail $673 million). That’s around $9 billion.

That said, I appreciate what AidData is trying to do here. Hopefully, they clean some of this up. My own sense is that each iteration of their general database gets better.

Here is their email:

Dear Colleague:

My name is Brad Parks. I am the Co-Executive Director of AidData, a research and innovation lab that tracks more than $5.5 trillion dollars from 90 donor agencies, creates decision support tools for development finance institutions, undertakes cutting-edge research on aid distribution and impact, and oversees efforts to geocode and crowdsource aid information.

Given some of your previous work, I thought you might be interested in a new dataset that AidData will soon release. At 4PM Eastern Standard Time on April 29th, at an event hosted by the Center for Global Development (CGD), AidData will release a dataset that tracks the known universe of Chinese official development finance flows to Africa from 2000 to 2011. The dataset relies on an innovative media-based data collection (MBDC) methodology, which has helped uncover nearly 1,700 Chinese-backed projects amounting to over $75 billion in official commitments. Our hope is that that publication of the data will provide a stronger empirical foundation for analyzing the nature, distribution, and impact of China’s overseas development finance activities in Africa. Along with the methodology and the dataset, several AidData and CGD staff and faculty affiliates are releasing a CGD Working Paper entitled China’s Development Finance to Africa: A Media-Based Approach to Data Collection.

Additionally, in the next 24 hours, we will launch a live, interactive database platform at china.aiddata.org that is accessible to journalists, researchers, policymakers, development practitioners, and the general public. The online interface not only makes it possible to filter, manipulate, and visualize the data, but also provides tools that enable users to vet and help improve the data. To enhance the accuracy of project-level data, the china.aiddata.org platform allows users to provide additional information about specific projects, such as media reports, documents, videos, and photographs, as well as suggest new projects not previously identified.

Please feel free to spread the word to colleagues who might be interested in this work. Also, if you would like to do something interesting with the data and blog your findings on The First Tranche (http://blog.aiddata.org/), let me know. We’d like to get as many people as possible to use — and potentially help us improve — the data.

Finally, if you are in the DC area on Monday afternoon and you are interested in attending the event at CGD, please register here.  It starts at 4PM. I hope to see you there.

Best,
Brad

Brad Parks
Executive Director, AidData
The College of William and Mary
bcpark@wm.edu; bparks@aiddata.org