ISA 2017: Call for Proposals

Understanding Change in World Politics

During the past three decades world politics has witnessed unprecedented changes. The Cold War ended with little violence, and prior to that the Berlin Wall fell and East and West Germany united. After two decades of near-unipolarity and American dominance, the structure of the international system is currently witnessing challenges by a resurgent Russia and a rising China, while other emerging powers such as India and Brazil have started exerting their influence, especially through international institutions. The onset of intensified globalization has once again brought massive changes to wealth creation, global information, communication and transportation technologies, and the dissemination of ideas and norms, both good and bad. Some observers have started questioning how far the nation-state itself is transforming and whether or not it is able to cope with the challenging times.

The strategies and campaigns waged by violent non-state actors since the 9/11 attacks have brought attention to the changing nature of warfare, especially in the poorly governed spaces of the world. The sudden collapse of many authoritarian regimes in the Middle East and North Africa, and the failure to bring proper democratic rules are generating intense violence in many states. The intersection of domestic and international level factors is all the more evident in the ongoing conflicts. Liberal societies, especially in Europe, are facing major challenges in terms of meaningful integration of minorities from growing levels of licit and illicit migration.

Much of international relations theory is poorly equipped to understand change. Standard realist theories have little to say about peaceful change, although liberalism proposes several strategies for change and constructivism has focused on ideational change. Yet, we still lack a proper understanding of when and how change happens and how states and international institutions can adapt to transforming world politics peacefully.

The 2017 conference is aimed at taking an assessment of our understanding of change, its different manifestations as well as implications. Theoretical and policy relevant papers and panels can be presented on any key aspect as it pertains to the conference research theme. Some key questions include:

  • What are different kinds of changes in world politics? The implications might range from epochal transformations to limited changes in the international system – especially within and between – regions to incremental changes in how international treaties and global governance initiatives are promulgated, which in turn produce long-term and/or short-term changes in the architecture of world politics.
  • What role does war and violence play in ushering change?
  • Is peaceful change, especially at the international system level, possible?
  • What are the markers of change? In other words, when and how do we know change is occurring?
  • Are power transitions always violent? How do we understand the ongoing power transitions involving the United States, China and others such as Russia, India, Brazil, and other G-20 member states?
  • What role does change play in security and political economy, two key IR sub-fields?
  • How do different IR paradigms, including critical perspectives, address change? What are their strengths and weaknesses? Can we understand change sequentially or cumulatively (or by combining their insights)? How do material and ideational factors link together in generating change?
  • How do scholars and practitioners understand foreign policy change, learning, and adaptation?
  • What new and existing methodologies can be brought to bear to understand change?

Types of Proposals

You can read about the various types of proposals that we are accepting for the conference on our submission types page. You can also find details on the requirements - including abstract limits and paper counts - on that page as well.