News from ISA


Winners of ISA Sponsored Awards Announced

Recipient:  Halvard Buhaug, Peace Research Institute Oslo

 & Norwegian University of Science and Technology


Professor Buhaug has made important contributions in three different areas of international relations and peace research: pioneering the geospatial study of conflict (a major interest in Karl Deutsch’s own research), investigating the relationship between grievances and internal conflict, and contributing to an important debate over the links between environmental stress and conflict. His early and innovative use of geospatial data, in particular, helped to open a new approach to the understanding of conflict, and his contribution of datasets on this topic has supported important avenues of research pursued by other scholars.   Professor Buhaug’s promotion of the disaggregated investigation of conflict led to his second major contribution, a revival of interest in the the role of actor grievances in violent internal conflicts. His award-winning 2013 book on this topic, Inequality, Grievances, and Civil War (co-authored with Kristian Gleditsch and Lars-Erik Cederman) summarizes and extends Professor Buhaug’s research on this topic.  Finally, in a series of influential publications, Professor Buhaug has taken issue with claims that climate change has a powerful effect on international security and violent conflict.  He argues that exaggerating the links between climate and security could undermine both efforts to understand the causes of conflict and global strategies to address the very real and pressing environmental issue of climate change.


Karl Deutsch was a life-long builder of scholarly bridges between North America and Europe. It is fitting that Halvard Buhaug, the first recipient of this award whose home institutions lie outside North America, is the recipient of the 2015 Karl Deutsch Award.

LADD HOLLIST SERVICE AWARD                                                                                `                         

Recipient:  A. Cooper Drury, University of Missouri

Text not available.


 Jessica F. Green, Case Western Reserve University

For her Book:  Rethinking Private AuthorityAgents and Entrepreneurs in Global Environmental Governance (Princeton University Press, 2013).

The committee concluded that this book is an agenda-setting work in the debates around the nature and roles of private authority in international governance. The distinction between entrepreneurial and delegated authority illuminates the case material chosen for analysis here, and should stir more inquiry into these ideas. Two longitudinal chapters involve substantial and novel historical views of the topic, while the two case studies are well chosen and draw on extensive primary research. The book speaks to an important, dynamic phenomenon that we can see (or intuitively sense) operating across the transnational landscape, and Green makes sense of it in sometimes counterintuitive ways.

We are also giving an Honorable Mention to Transnational Climate Change Governance (Cambridge University Press), by Harriet Bulkeley, Liliana Andonova, Michele M. Betsill, Daniel Compagnon, Thomas Hale, Matthew J. Hoffman, Peter Newell, Matthew Paterson, Charles Roger, and Stacy D. VanDeveer.
This collaborative work is a superb example of the dance between inductive and deductive analysis, and of generation of compelling new research questions through the analysis (and questioning) of existing patterns of governance. Committee members found the notions of the production of ‘governance spaces’ and the shifting ground of authority and legitimacy, the discussion of spatial clustering of participation in TCCG initiatives, and the discussion of how to contact governance systems especially useful.

DEBORAH GERNER INNOVATIVE TEACHING AWARD                                                                                          

Recipient:  Jennifer M. Ramos, Loyola Marymount University

 & Paul Steinberg, Harvey Mudd College

The Gerner Innovative Teaching Award Committee was very pleased to receive and review a number of high quality nominations. From this strong nominee pool, we selected Jennifer Ramos and Paul Steinberg as this year’s recipients. Both recipients directly connect their classrooms with immersive real world experiences. Both strongly exemplify the spirit of the Gerner Innovative Teaching Award by taking risks to invest time and energy into doing something new or different, reflecting on their experience to undertake appropriate changes, sharing their innovations with their colleagues at their institutions and beyond, and developing classroom exercises that engage students to bring the real world into the classroom or, as the case may be, take the classroom out into the real world.

Jennifer Ramos is doing innovative work by turning a methods course into a course that serves as a community based learning course, working with a food bank. Community-based learning courses require significant additional commitment to set up and coordinate appropriate projects and attend to the logistics of a successful learning experience in addition to delivering the substantive content of a methods course. She shared her experience with the course through presentations to her colleagues at her institution, inspiring others to adopt a similar approach. She has also transformed a course in international security by adding a one week immersive study of the peace process in Northern Ireland which involved traveling there with her students over spring break. Her students developed research projects prior to departure and were able to collect data through in-depth interviews once in Northern Ireland, allowing them to delve deeper into themes of restorative justice. As evidenced in these courses, Professor Ramos is not only willing to risks, but in the process has created high-impact learning communities for her students.

Paul Steinberg has developed the Social Rules Project that is designed to enhance environmental education by offering multimedia teaching models. He has enlisted colleagues and students from multiple disciplines and departments at his institution to design, produce, and implement these modules, including an animated film (Who Rules the Earth?) which he wrote and directed and a video game (Law of the Jungle) with over 10,000 lines of code. The film was animated by 11 students from the California Institute of the Arts, premiered at the Wild & Scenic Film Festival in January 2014 and received the award for Best Student Film at the Hawaii Ocean Film festival in July 2014. The video game, likewise involving arts and computer science students in its creation, provides for an immersion in the subject matter, and creative problem solving. Professor Steinberg has made the material available to anyone interested in using it, creating a web site and social media presence for the Social Rules Project. The committee was impressed by the resourcefulness and inclusive leadership he demonstrated in developing the concept and content as well as creating and deploying a network of talent that spanned the arts, humanities, social and computer sciences to develop these projects.


Recipient:  Kathryn Sikkink, Harvard University


The J. Ann Ticker Award recognizes someone who, like Ann Tickner, “consistently combines high-quality, pioneering scholarship that pushes the boundaries of the discipline with a deep commitment to service especially teaching and mentoring.”  This year’s recipient, more than meets this high standard.


Professor Kathryn Sikkink of Harvard’s Kennedy School and the Radcliffe Institute is a widely recognized intellectual pioneer whose commitment to scholarship focused on ideas and values that shape political practice has transformed the way we think about human rights and international relations.  She has fought to make human rights a central concern of international studies for almost 30 years and has been central to the success of that effort.  She has also been a leader in the broader “constructivist turn” in international relations that reoriented that field toward ideas, norms and values. 


These ethical commitments also shape Sikkink’s teaching and mentoring.  She consistent challenges students in the classroom to be thoughtful about how to live ethically in an increasingly interconnected world.  Her generous mentoring recognizes students as intellectual peers but also as multifaceted individuals who must juggle work with family and other life commitments.


Through outstanding scholarship and thoughtful, caring engagement with students and colleagues, both inside and outside the academy, Sikkink has enriched the life and work of many and promises to do so for many years to come.



Recipients:  Lars-Erik Cederman, ETH International Conflict Research, Kristian Skrede Gleditsch, University of Essex and Halvard Buhaug (Peace Research Institute Oslo & Norwegian University of Science and Technology

Recipient:  Emilie M. Hafner-Burton, University of California, San Diego

Recipient:  Shiping Tang, Fudan University


Lars-Erik Cederman, Kristian Skrede Gleditsch, and Halvard Buhaug, Inequality, Grievances, and Civil War (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013).


Inequality, Grievances, and Civil War is an exemplar of outstanding social science research, drawing on a variety of new quantitative techniques while situating its claims in a wide ranging literature review which brings together many approaches to domestic conflict and civil war.  This book makes a major contribution to theory of conflict processes, to the study of civil war, and to the complex relationships among types of conflict across many levels of analysis– individuals and groups, as well as states.  It crosses theoretical and analytic boundaries and connects internal conflict and transnational conflict, political economy and conflict, and the subfields of international relations and comparative politics.  By unpacking the arguments and effects of the greed-grievance debate on the causes of civil war, this book contributes to our understanding of how economic development and conflict are connected, and ultimately our understanding of such salient contemporary policy issues as how to address development, civil war recovery, and state failure.  The authors challenge the ‘greed model’ of civil war.  They argue that the key actors are ethnic groups and organizations (as an intermediate level of analysis between individuals and states), and their relationships with the governments of states. This leads to a claim that inequality of ‘ethnonationalistic’ groups (in terms of both economic inequality as well as political exclusion) forms the basis for group grievances that motivate groups toward civil war.  For a full model of civil war, the authors argue that their grievance approach needs to be combined with the resource-based and resource-focused orientation of the greed model. They thus provide an opportunity and willingness framework which posits opportunity and willingness (greed and grievances) as jointly necessary conditions for civil wars to occur.  After more than two decades of intensive study of civil war by conflict scholars (both from IR and Comparative Politics), this book synthesizes as well as clarifies many of the positive as well as the problematic aspects of that study.


Emilie M. Hafner-Burton, Making Human Rights a Reality (Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2013)


Global concern for human rights has grown since the end of World War II and the Holocaust, and remains high in the aftermath of genocides in Rwanda and Bosnia, and newly emergent crises in South Sudan and elsewhere.  Numerous treaties and agreements have been enacted to protect and define human rights, forming a prominent feature of contemporary international law.  And yet the incidence of violations of human rights seems only to increase.  In this groundbreaking book, Professor Hafner-Burton takes up the challenge of understanding what has gone wrong with the enforcement of human rights and what we can do about it.  After a survey of human rights abuses and treaties, she proposes a ‘stewardship strategy’ and outlines a series of changes to the human rights regime to improve their overall efficacy.  She argues for a serious commitment to the enforcement of human rights combined with a recognition that the resources that can be committed are limited and must be deployed where they are likely to be most effective.  Applying insights from the enforcement of criminal law, Hafner-Burton looks at strategies that are more likely to produce the desired results, and proposes new policies that will change the incentives of people who would violate human rights, and for the policy makers, lawyers, and activists who seek to contain and stop them.  Ambitious, thought-provoking, comprehensive, and controversial, Making Human Rights a Reality is an important contribution to international law and human rights, and international relations theory.


Shiping Tang, The Social Evolution of International Politics (New York: Oxford University Press, 2013).

Shiping Tang, a Chinese IR scholar, challenges traditional theories of international relations by placing contending paradigms in the historic context of social evolution.  In short, he views this evolution as originating in an ancient “paradise” of societies unencumbered by competition for finite resources and assets.  As populations increase and become more congested, strategies of offensive realism become common in a Hobbesian world of recurring security and prisoner dilemmas.  This period is followed by a shift toward defensive realism in the modern era.  After the world wars, a new and more liberal order emerges based on democratic values and global governance.  In Tang’s analysis, these evolutionary phases reveal the “transformative power of time.”  Conventional IR theories, however, tend to consider history a constant, something that can be controlled for in a singular “non-evolutionary” theoretical framework.  Tang finds much to gain by considering constructivist approaches that highlight social forces that shape state identities and foreign relations.  His book is all the more intriguing given Tang’s academic training; his degrees include a BS in paleontology (1985), an MS in molecular biology (1998), and a PhD in molecular biology and genetics (1995).  Only then does he take on IR, in 1999, when he receives an MS in the field.  Given this diverse background, it is no wonder that Tang’s social evolution paradigm takes students of IR theory into new and promising intellectual frontiers.  

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