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Mershon News

Dorothy Noyes

Mershon affiliate Dorothy Noyes, professor of English and comparative studies, has published a new book: Sustaining Interdisciplinary Collaboration: A Guide for the Academy (University of Illinois Press, 2017), co-authored with Regina Bendix and Kilian Bizer.

Sustaining Interdisciplinary Collaboration shows newcomers and veteran researchers how to craft associations that will lead to rich mutual learning under inevitably tricky conditions. Strikingly candid and always grounded, the authors draw a wealth of profound, practical lessons from an in-depth case study of a multiyear funded project on cultural property.

Examining the social dynamics of collaboration, they show readers how to anticipate sources of conflict, nurture trust, and jump-start thinking across disciplines. Researchers and institutions alike will learn to plan for each phase of a project life cycle, capturing insights and shepherding involvement along the way.

Because much of Noyes’s contribution to the book draws heavily from her work at the Mershon Center, we asked her about her long experience as a folklorist collaborating with scholars in international relations and security studies.

Q. How is your work in folklore studies informed by activities and events at the Mershon Center?

I’ve been at Mershon for almost as long as I’ve been at Ohio State because it offers such stimulating counterpoint to my own thinking. As a folklorist, I start with the ethnographic detail and work up to interpretation, comparison, and theory. The social scientists at Mershon often work in the other direction: That inspires me to join rigor to openness.

Learning from Mershon’s historians and political scientists has helped me to carry my interest in political performance into new arenas, such as cultural diplomacy. And I’ve learned how I and my students can explain our work better to others: This has made it easy for me to enter into interdisciplinary collaborations in Germany and elsewhere.

There isn’t a straight line of influence, but conversations at Mershon have been important for the framing of my current book project on the idea of exemplarity in liberal politics.

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Last week the American Academy of Arts and Sciences announced the election of 228 new members, including some of the world's most accomplished scholars, scientists, writers, artists, as well as civic, business, and philanthropic leaders.

Among them were two Mershon faculty affiliates: Janet Box-Steffensmeier, Vernal Riffe Professor of Political Science and professor of sociology, and Geoffrey Parker, Andreas Dorpalen Professor of History.

"I am particularly thrilled by this honor because I'm one of three Ohio State University members in the Class of 2017 -- all of them from the College of Arts and Sciences," Parker said.

Founded in 1780, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences is one of the country's oldest learned societies and independent policy research centers, convening leaders from the academic, business, and government sectors to respond to the challenges facing — and opportunities available to — the nation and the world.

Members contribute to Academy publications and studies in science, engineering, and technology policy; global security and international affairs; the humanities, arts, and education; and American institutions and the public good.

The new class will be inducted at a ceremony on October 7, 2017, in Cambridge, Mass.

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Each year, the Mershon Center for International Security Studies at The Ohio State University gives the Edgar S. Furniss Book Award to an author whose first book makes an exceptional contribution to the field of international security studies. The award commemorates the founding director of the Mershon Center, Edgar S. Furniss.

The Mershon Center is seeking nominations for the 2016 Furniss Book Award. The committee will consider any first book that makes a theoretical and policy impact on our understanding of any of the following themes:

  • Use of force and diplomacy.
  • Ideas, identities, and decisional processes that affect security.
  • Institutions that manage violent conflict.

The Furniss Book Award was given for the first time in 1983 and has been awarded to several of the field's most prominent scholars early in their careers. Previous winners include John Mearsheimer, Barry Posen, and Stephen Walt.

Please note that in order to be considered, the book must be the author's first and be copyrighted in 2016. Edited volumes are not eligible, nor are books by current Mershon Center affiliates due to conflict of interest. Copies of books submitted for the award cannot be returned. The deadline for receiving nominations for the 2016 award is May 31, 2017.

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Christopher Gelpi

One of our most important duties as citizens is to form attitudes and opinions that may help guide American decisions about the use of military force. This duty became even more important as the United States rose to the status of a Great Power capable of intervening in conflicts around the world. It continues today regarding recent decisions about the use of force in the Middle East.

Yet throughout America’s time as a Great Power, our geographic isolation, physical security, and reliance on an increasingly narrow cross-section of volunteers for military service have all meant that American citizens are almost never directly exposed to war. As a result, Americans receive essentially all of their information about war through the lens of the national media.

Media norms and practices in covering war have changed dramatically over the past century, from “yellow journalism” at the turn of the 20th century, through the “golden age” of television with towering figures like Walter Cronkite, to the splintered and partisan media environment of the internet.

In War, Media and the Public, we will explore the evolution of these media norms and practices, as well as their impact on how the American public thinks and feels about war. The conference, organized by Christopher Gelpi, Chair in Peace Studies and Conflict Resolution, will take place Friday, April 21, through Saturday, April 22, 2017, at the Mershon Center for International Security Studies, 1501 Neil Ave.

See the conference program, conference poster, and list of participants, and register for the event at go.osu.edu/warandmedia

Jesse Driscoll

The breakup of the Soviet Union was unexpected and unexpectedly peaceful. Although a third of the new states fell into violent conflict, anarchy was soon brought under control. What explains this relatively quick transition to order and stability in the post-Soviet periphery?

Jesse Driscoll, assistant professor of political science at University of California-San Diego, explores this question in Warlords and Coalition Politics in Post-Soviet States (Cambridge University Press, 2015), winner of the Mershon Center's Edgar S. Furniss Book Award.

Driscoll will speak at the Mershon Center at 3:30 p.m. on Thursday, September 14, 2017. More information will be forthcoming about this event.

In his book, Driscoll argues that the relative stability in the post-Soviet periphery cannot be explained by security guarantees from Russia or the United Nations. Rather, in the wake of a failed state, local warlords competed and colluded in a high-risk and ruthless game of forming coalitions that resulted in the emergence of well-functioning domestic hierarchies.

Drawing on a structured comparison of militia members in Georgia and Tajikistan, Driscoll combines rich comparative data with formal modeling, treating the post-Soviet space as a laboratory to observe the limits of great powers' efforts to shape domestic institutions in weak states.

The Furniss Award commemorates the founding director of the Mershon Center, Edgar S. Furniss, and is given annually to an author whose first book makes an exceptional contribution to the study of national and international security. Previous winners include John Mearsheimer, Barry Posen, and Stephen Walt.

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Featured News

  • Keren Yarhi-Milo

    Yarhi-Milo’s ‘Knowing the Adversary’ wins Furniss Book Award

    States are more likely to engage in military buildups and pre-emptive strikes if they think their adversaries pose a tangible threat. But how do they make that determination?

    Keren ...

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  • Jacob Shapiro

    Shapiro wins Furniss Book Award for ‘The Terrorist’s Dilemma’

    How do terrorist groups control their members? Do the tools groups use to monitor their operatives and enforce discipline create security vulnerabilities that governments can exploit?

    ...

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