I am delighted to welcome you to the 2018 edition of Inspires, in what has been another hugely successful year for the Department. The University of Oxford retained the top rank in the UK for Politics and International Studies in the Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) Rankings, and we hope to give you a flavour of the fantastic range of work our academics and students are engaged in, and a sense of its impact.
In this year's Inspires, Lucas Kello, Director of the Centre for Technology and Global Affairs, explains why it is so important and timely for the Department to be at the forefront of research into how technological change influences politics and society. Our editors also spoke with alumna Renata Dwan, who as Director of the UN Institute for Disarmament Research is leading an inquiry into questions of international security, which increasingly concern the effect of technology. We heard echoes of the same theme from Barbara Walter, Professor of Political Science at UC San Diego, who delivered the 2018 Cyril Foster Lecture on the impact of technology on the “New New Civil Wars”. Adam Roberts spoke to Adam McCauley about his established career studying the international system.
Research at the Department continues to examine questions spanning a wide breadth of sub-disciplines from international relations to comparative government to political theory. Jane Gingrich has been awarded more than £1.1m in funding for SCHOOLPOL to gather data on educational policies and contexts, their political determinants and long-term impacts. Elizabeth Frazer, who convened a conference recently on religion and political life, considers the argument that increasing diversity calls for new thinking in political theory. Matthew Walton’s research focuses on the specific case of Myanmar, and he argues that reform depends on a more sophisticated understanding of the ‘Buddhist Nationalist’ movement.
Discussions about Brexit and the future shape of Europe continue to provide a rich vein of research. Des King has edited a volume on how the rise of non-state organisations and norms are combining with Europeanisation to reconfigure European states. Jan Zielonka argues in an article (and at length in his latest book) that Brexit represents liberal Europe in retreat, and Louise Richardson, University of Oxford’s Vice-Chancellor, considers what role universities should play in this age of populism, based on her 2017 Fulbright Lecture. This year's Fulbright Lecture was delivered by Lord Nicholas Stern on "The Best of Centuries or the Worst of Centuries: Leadership, Governance and Cohesion in an Interdependent World".
David Levy reflects on the latest edition of the Digital News Report, in what will be his last piece as Director of the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism. David has been an excellent and motivational director and he will be sorely missed.
While we say goodbye to some, we also welcome new faces. Stathis Kalyvas, previously at Yale University, has been appointed Gladstone Professor of Government. He joins a vibrant community of researchers, many of whom have recently been recognised with awards. We congratulated Ezequiel González Ocantos for winning the International Studies Association’s 2018 Best Book in Human Rights for Shifting Legal Visions: Judicial Change and Human Rights Trials in Latin America, and Annette Idler for the Highly Commended Early Career Award at the inaugural O2RB Excellence in Impact awards for her work in conflict zones.
Our graduate students are also producing world-class research and being recognised for it – with three students, Tomas Wallenius, Daniel Fedorowycz and Barry Maydom, recently winning prizes from the International Studies Association and Political Studies Association for their outstanding theses. Our DPhil and MPhil programmes are consistently ranked top in the UK, and like all of our programmes, have a tradition of training alumni like you: leading figures in government, academia, diplomacy and international organisations.
The Department is committed to widening access to all our university courses through a range of outreach events to ensure we continue to get the best students from every possible background. This year’s Parliament Week event will invite local sixth form students to debate the theme of suffrage and political activism, and we continue to provide teaching for University-wide access programmes like UNIQ and Target Oxbridge. The range and calibre of our research and outreach opportunities would not be possible without generous funding from research bodies and individuals. Ricardo Soares de Oliveira, our Development Director, explains how important the support is for our students.
The 2018/19 academic year starts with the Meeting Minds Alumni Weekend in Oxford on 14-16 September, and we hope to see many of you back to visit us in Oxford then and over the coming year. If you can’t make it to Oxford, then we may see you at the various alumni events around the globe, and you can stay connected virtually on social media and digital platforms.
With my very best wishes, I hope you enjoy the 2018 edition of Inspires.
Louise Fawcett is Head of Department of Politics and International Relations, Professor of International Relations, and Wilfrid Knapp Fellow and Tutor in Politics, St Catherine's College
Image Credits: Susan Taylor; WolfBlur; DPIR - "Procession of the 2018 Cyril Foster Lecture"; DPIR - "Pro-Vice-Chancellor Rebecca Surender, 2018 Cyril Foster Lecturer Barbara Walter, and Head of Department Louise Fawcett"; Nuffield College - "Ben Ansell delivers a WEALTHPOL workshop"; Pembroke College - "Lord Nicholas Stern with Stephen Whitefield at the 2018 Fulbright Lecture"; John Cairns - "Annette Idler receives an award at the O2RB Excellence in Impact Awards"; DPIR - "Students and Researchers at the 2018 Oxford Spring School in Advanced Research Methods"; Rob Judges - "MPs, local sixth form students and DPIR academics participate in 2017 Parliament Day at Convocation House"; Susan Taylor