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In his April 14, 2008, speech to the Association of American Universities, then-Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates argued that “we must again embrace eggheads and ideas.” The key assumptions undergirding what he dubbed the Minerva Initiative were that “throughout the Cold War, universities had been vital centers of new research” and that at one time US national security policymakers were successful in tapping intellectual “resources outside of government” to guide them in formulating policy (Gates 2008). In that same spirit, then-Democratic Presidential hopeful Barack Obama promised while campaigning in Virginia in August 2008 to assemble a policy team consisting of “the best and the brightest” with the objective of tapping universities to bring important expertise on to his Administration's foreign and security policy teams (Bohan 2008).

Obama's and Gates' efforts to bridge the Beltway and the Ivory Tower gap came at a time, however, at which it never seemed wider. Harvard Professor (and former high-level State Department, Defense Department, and Intelligence Community official) Joseph Nye penned a widely discussed article in the Washington Post, in which he opined that “the walls surrounding the ivory tower never seemed so high” (Nye 2009a:A15). There is a broad consensus that this gap has widened in recent years and widespread concern that it was a bad thing for both policymakers and scholars.1 According to the 2011 Teaching and Research in International Politics (TRIP) survey of international relations scholars, nearly 85 percent of American scholars recognized that a theory/policy gap persisted or was growing in size (Maliniak, Peterson, and Tierney 2012:66). The TRIP surveys also clearly demonstrate that “there is a disjuncture between what American scholars of IR think about the value of producing policy-relevant work and the actual research they generate” (Maliniak, Oakes, Peterson, and Tierney 2011:437). ...

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The International Studies Association

Representing 100 countries, ISA has over 6,500 members worldwide and is the most respected and widely known scholarly association in this field. Endeavoring to create communities of scholars dedicated to international studies, ISA is divided into 7 geographic subdivisions of ISA (Regions), 29 thematic groups (Sections) and 4 Caucuses which provide opportunities to exchange ideas and research with local colleagues and within specific subject areas.
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