Symposia Celebrate Rosenkranz Hall Dedication
On October 24, former and current members of the Political Science and MacMillan Center communities reunited to celebrate the opening of Rosenkranz Hall, their new home, with two symposia. The core of this celebration was the discussion of the past, present, and future of political science, international affairs and public service. Salient scholars and professionals who are Yale alumni participated as panelists in two symposia. The insightful discussions revolved around important and controversial issues – from theory – vs. method-driven research in political science to the possibility of alternative ways of bringing about change in world politics and economics.
The first symposium discussed the Past, Present and Future of Political Science. Reflections on the importance of methods as well as the relevance of research questions were common. Representative David Price stressed that political science tends to be disconnected from the real world: “The academics we turn to are from policy schools, rather than political science.” However, he reminded the audience about an essential mission for political science: that of “illuminating broader questions about power.” Some scholars, like Rafaela Dancygier from Princeton University, stressed the importance of looking for new formats in PhD programs and the discipline as a whole to allow for high-quality and innovative research on important questions. For example, she proposed that PhD students should engage in “big, long-term collaborative projects,” rather than being asked to come up with innovative theories and superb research designs, as these requirements often lead to research on narrow and less relevant projects.
The second symposium assessed the Past, Present, and Future of International Affairs and Public Service. This panel brought together professionals and scholars working on different fronts. The discussion revolved around bringing about change in different spheres of human society. Jeffrey Hoberman, CEO of Recovery Group (Argentina), recounted his quest for impacting regulations at various levels, and his experiences as a member of state and governmental agencies as well as in the private sector. Catharine MacKinnon, Professor at the Law School at the University of Michigan and renowned legal activist in the area of sex crimes, recounted her contributions to the U.S., Canadian and international legal systems in relation to sex crimes. She stressed how cultural differences often blur the issues at stake in sex crimes, especially under the lenses of cultural relativism. In this sense, she suggested that “we should start with the premise that all cultures are equally invalid.” At the same time, cultural differences often allow societies to be more critical about how others treat women. In consequence, “women have more rights the farther away from home.” Katherine Ward, an international consultant on warfare and civilians, highlighted the importance of combining “big thought with implementation,” and “bringing into the debate the different disciplines, traditions, and communities engaged with the problems we are dealing with.”
"...an essential mission for political science: that of 'illuminating broader questions about power.'”
The symposia were followed by a lively reception and dinner where current students, faculty members, and alumni had an opportunity to meet and continue the fascinating conversations started during the symposia. For more information about the two symposia, visit: www.yale.edu/macmillan/rosenkranz/