The 2015 Alcuin Lecture was given by Neal Ascherson under the title of "Our infinite Scotland small?" Choosing worlds to join.
The lecture took place on Friday 5th June at 5.00-6.00pm in the Alison Richard Building on the subject of the historical connections between Scotland and Europe, how they can be exploited in the present context, and the importance of re-establishing an active and distinct 'European identity' for Scotland in the next few years. There was a brief question and answer session with Neal following the lecture.
A recording of the lecture is available to view below, and can also be downloaded through our Streaming Media Service Collection.
The text of Neal's speech is also available to download and read.
Unfortunately we had a several problems with the microphone on the night, so we apologise for the poor quality audio on the recording.
Dr Bernardo Zacka, Junior Research Fellow of Christ's College, and post-doctoral affiliate in POLIS, has been awarded the 2015 Robert Noxon Toppan prize for "the best dissertation on a subject of political science" at Harvard University.
His dissertation is entitled "When the State Meets the Street: Moral Agency and Discretionary Power at the Frontlines of Public Service."
Congratulations Dr Zacka!
The Department has a new Tumblr blog!
Gathering together existing articles, interviews, journal articles, blog posts and more from the academic members of POLIS, we will keep the Tumblr up to date with all the latest output from the Department.
It is early days yet, but why not take a look to see if you've missed anything recently, and to see what you think - Take me to Tumblr!
Any feedback is welcome; you can leave a comment on the blog, or drop us an email to email@example.com
We would like to congratulate Raphaël Lefèvre on winning the third Bill Gates Sr. Prize for his outstanding work on Middle Eastern politics. The Prize was established by the Gates Cambridge Trustees in June 2012, and gives Scholars the opportunity to nominate a fellow Scholar for their achievements. He was awarded at the Prize reception at Downing College arranged by Professor Barry Everitt, provost of the Gates Cambridge Scholarship.
Raphaël has very generously donated the prize money to Relief & Reconciliation for Syria, a charity aiding Syrian refugees in North Lebanon, providing education and shelter. The full article can be found here on the GATES Cambridge site. Well done Raphaël!
Dr Alexander Anievas, a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow in POLIS, has been awarded the 2015 Sussex International Theory Prize, for his monograph "Capital, the State and War: Class Conflict and Geopolitics in the Thirty Years' Crisis, 1914-1945". The prize, awarded by the Centre for Advanced International Theory at the University of Sussex, is for the best book in international theory published during the previous year. Dr. Anievas will deliver the Sussex International Theory Prize Lecture in the spring of 2016.
Since its launch in 2009 with investment from the David and Elaine Potter Foundation, the Centre of Governance and Human Rights in the Department of Politics and International Studies has carried out pioneering work on the potential of digital communications for advancing political change and human rights in the developing world.
Director of the Centre and the David and Elaine Potter Lecturer in Governance and Human Rights, Dr Sharath Srinivasan, comments:
“At five years, we are now a known quantity, seen as genuinely innovative, ambitious, cross-disciplinary, highly collaborative and outward focused. We are a sought out and valued source of knowledge on urgent and under-explored global issues at the intersection of human rights, governance, conflict and peace.
Our work contributes to key policy debates at national, regional and international levels, for example through work for the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, on unlawful killings in Africa, on the safety of journalists, and on the uses of ICTs to support accountability for human rights violations.”
Together, the early success of the Centre, the launch of Africa’s Voices Foundation and the growing interdisciplinary partnerships being facilitated through the Cambridge-Africa Programme are celebrated examples of what can be achieved around citizen engagement, policy influence and the changing nature of politics in the digital age, and how social technology innovation can have a positive outcome for peoples’ lives.
Happy 5th Birthday, CGHR!
The 2015 Alcuin Lecture was given by Neal Ascherson, a Scottish historian and journalist who currently writes for the Guardian, on the historical connections between Scotland and Europe, how they can be exploited in the present context, and the importance of re-establishing an active and distinct 'European identity' for Scotland in the next few years.
Named after Alcuin of York, a teacher, theologian, and poet who advised the Emperor Charlemagne, this annual lecture hosted by the Department of Politics and International Relations is given on a topic concerning the UK and Europe.
The lecture took place on Friday 5 June between 5/6pm, followed by a reception in the atrium of the Alison Richard Building.
A video of the lecture will soon be available to view and download.
In late 2014, Professor Brendan Simms convened a Forum on Geopolitics at POLIS. The Forum is a first step towards the establishment of a Centre of Geopolitics and Grand Strategy (CoGGS), a new interdisciplinary Centre for the study of grand strategy and statecraft at the University of Cambridge; and their new website is now live.
The aim of CoGGS is to provide rigorous training in international affairs, military history, and geo-strategic thinking and to develop world-class strategic thinkers and decision-makers who understand how to calculate risk and recognise opportunity within the appropriate historical and contextual perspectives.
Once fully established, the CoGGS will represent a seventh research centre within POLIS, alongside the Centre of Governance and Human Rights, the Centre for Rising Powers, the Centre of International Studies, the Cambridge Centre of Political Thought, the Centre for the Study of the International Relations of the Middle East and North Africa, and the European Centre @ POLIS.
If you are interested in supporting the development of the Centre of Geopolitics and Grand Strategy, please contact Dr Maeve Ryan, Development Coordinator.
And for details of upcoming Forum events, please go here.
Episode 13, available later this afternoon, will be the final pre-election ELECTION podcast. During the episode the panel will take a look back over their predictions and expectations for the campaign, and see how they compared with the reality of the last thirteen weeks.
The series has featured a wide range of guests, and below are some of their thoughts about the election, from a variety of perspectives.
Lord Maurice Glasman, one of the architects of the movement known as Blue Labour and the first guest had a pretty clear view about what he thinks is going to happen on Thursday 7 May –
I think the first thing we’ve got to say about the election is that no-one’s going to win, the consensus is yet to be fully forged and put to the people…I think that there will be another election within 18 months and that’s going to be the important election, I think this election won’t resolve, so let’s keep our eyes focused on two years down the road.
Martin Jacques, one time editor of Marxism Today and now one of the leading Western commentators on China featured in episode three and discussed the reasons for the “palpable” discontent amongst the British electorate –
…People are discontented because you know if you ask them will your children enjoy a better standard of living than you, people in the great majority now think that their children will be worse off when they grow up than they have been. (Whereas in China)…the living standards are doubling…so they are filled with optimism and we are filled with pessimism. So I think there is a sense in which the system we have got...isn't delivering any more and there’s a general loss of faith in the system and its institutions and in the governing elites...Now I don’t know where this is going to lead but it’s clearly true.
John Naughton, chronicler of the Internet from its early days and the author of the book From Gutenberg to Zuckerberg: What you really need to know about the Internet featured in episode four and was asked whether he thought that Facebook might actually decide this election –
Yes, in this particular case, in some seats it might be quite critical. But what would make it really critical I think is if Facebook were able to encourage more younger voters to turn out, because that could have a significant impact on the coming election. In the last election I think only 51% of young people voted…but if Facebook did use the same technique as they use in the US, which is to put on some people’s pages an ‘I Voted’ button and have say pictures of 6 of their friends who had also announced that they had voted, that’s what had an impact in the United States, and who knows that might have an impact here, and if the impact were on younger people I think it be might significant.
And Clare Jackson, historian and television presenter gave her perspective on the future of the union between Scotland and England if the SNP became the lynch-pin of the next government –
I think it’s interesting how notions of coalition have become more mainstream than they were. You know the first past the post system doesn't usually result in coalitions and just as the PR system in Edinburgh wasn't meant to produce a single party government…(but) it did, and both sides are now getting used to political novelties and I think one of the interesting things is how fast politics is changing and how fast people’s identities and allegiances can shift. So, I think it’s really an interesting time, the last election and presumably the next one showed there was quite a lot of unknown unknowns…If you’re being optimistic, this is a time for opportunity.
Keep an eye out for Episode 13 later on today to hear the panel's final thoughts before the election. And remember to come back next week for the last episode of the current series of ELECTION - though they'll be back next year for series two on the US Presidential Election. So watch this space!
As part of our continuing relationship with our alumni, POLIS have created a ClassNotes website. We love to hear from our former students and discover where you are now. Once you’ve looked up old friends, you can submit your own ClassNote. We look forward to hearing from you!
Following the announcement of the US Scholars, Gates Cambridge have now announced the results for their International Scholarship 2015-16, and six out of the fifty four students selected will be joining POLIS this autumn.
The successful candidates were whittled down from a field of 3,535 applicants.
Mr Manus McCaffery will be joining the MPhil in Public Policy program; he completed his undergraduate studies at Stanford University before moving to Mongolia to work with the Ambassador at Large of Mongolia. He plans to research methods for bridging the gap between energy politics and environmental sustainability whilst at Cambridge.
Miss Aliya Khalid will be joining the MPhil in Public Policy program; she completed her undergraduate studies at the University of Peshawar and holds a Master's in Public Administration from the Institute of Management Sciences.
Mr Chiedozie Ibekwe will be joining the MPhil in Public Policy program; he completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Mississippi and is currently studying for a Master's in Supply Chain Management at Pennsylvania State University.
Ms Lauren Power will be joining the MPhil in Multi-Disciplinary Gender Studies program; she completed her undergraduate studies at the University of Western Australia before going on to work in public policy. She plans to research the potential of online activism to raise consciousness of ongoing gender issues and affect genuine cultural change whilst at Cambridge.
Miss Sophie Hermanns will be joining the PhD in Politics and International Studies program; she completed her undergraduate studies at Cambridge, before going on to the Hunboldt University of Berlin and Sciences Po, Paris. Whilst at Cambridge she plans to research how can we improve global health most effectively.
Mr Carlos Gonzalez Sierra will be joining the MPhil in Latin American Studies; he completed his undergraduate studies at Amherst College before going on to work as a legislative assistant in Washington, DC. He plans to research transnational political participation and the root causes of inequality in Latin America whilst at Cambridge.
Gates Cambridge have announced the results for their US Scholarship 2015-16, and five out of the forty students selected will be joining POLIS this autumn.
The successful candidates were whittled down from a field of 755 applicants.
Miss Karin Bashir will be joining the MPhil in Public Policy program; she completed her undergraduate studies at the University of Michigan and has studied and worked in Egypt and Bahrain. She is currently working with Syrian refuges in Turkey.
Ms Jocelyn Perry will be joining the MPhil in International Relations and Politics program; she completed her undergraduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania and has travelled and worked throughout Asia and South America. She plans to research post-conflict reconstruction with a focus on Africa’s Great Lakes region whilst at Cambridge.
Mr George Saba will be joining the MPhil in International Relations and Politics program; he is currently studying at Stanford University, and has worked as a research assistant for Dr. Condoleezza Rice and as a White House Intern for the Obama Administration. He plans to research how presidents and prime ministers utilize their advisors to improve the policy making process whilst at Cambridge.
Mr Daniel Barcia will be joining the MPhil in International Relations and Politics program; he is currently studying at Harvard University and served as Editor-in-Chief of the Harvard College Human Rights Review. He plans to focus on economic development and U.S. foreign policy whilst at Cambridge.
Mr Yusef Al-Jarani will be joining the MPhil in Development Studies program; he completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Chicago.
The postgraduate scholarship programme was established through a US$210 million donation to the University of Cambridge from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in 2001, which remains the largest single donation to a UK university. Competition for places is fierce and the programme is unique in its emphasis on social leadership as well as outstanding academic ability.
The inaugural Antcliffe Lecture was given by Lord Michael Howard of Lympne on the subject of "Thatcherism Today".
The lecture took place on Wednesday 11th March at 5.30-6.30pm in the McCrum Lecture Theatre at Corpus Christi College, and included an extended question and answer session with Lord Howard on a wide variety of subjects - including EU membership, Thatcher's legacy in Northern Ireland, Scotland, constituency boundary distribution and whether there is a "post-Thatcherite consensus" in the UK.
A recording of the lecture is available to view below, and can also be downloaded through our Streaming Media Service Collection.
Do you have a question you'd like to hear our panel answer or discuss?
Would you like to hear what David, Helen, Chris and Finbarr think about the recently announced consultation on the proposal to offer loans of up to £25,000 for UK students studying for PhDs and research-based master's degrees?
Do they think that Britain is "walking tall again"?
And what did the panel think of the Liberal Democrats' yellow budget, announced on Thursday?
Tweet us your questions (@Dept_of_POLIS) using the hashtag #ElectionPodcast or send them in an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
We'll then put a selection to the panel, ready for the next podcast.
In the meantime, all the existing episodes are available on iTunes, Stitcher and the Streaming Media Service website.
On Tuesday 24th February 2015, Professor David Runciman, Professor of Politics and Head of the Department of POLIS gave his Inaugural Lecture on Political Theory and Real Politics in the Age of the Internet.
With the lecture theatre full to the brim, those unable to get a seat inside were nevertheless able to watch the lecture streamed live into the atrium and cafe of the Alison Richard Building. This was thanks to the work of Julian and Steve (the Streaming Media Service), Howard and Steve (the AV team) and Kevin and John (HSPS Helpdesk).
For anyone who missed the lecture, or who would simply like to view it again, below you will find the first ten minutes; to view or download the full lecture, please go here to our Collection on the Streaming Media Service website.
Led by Professor David Runciman, together with Dr Helen Thompson, Dr Finbarr Livesey and Dr Christopher Brooke, and featuring a guest speaker each week, ELECTION is the new weekly politics podcast.
Episodes one and two featured Lord (Maurice) Glasman - Labour peer, academic, and architect of ‘Blue Labour’ - and Lord (Martin) Rees – cosmologist, Astronomer Royal, and former President of the Royal Society.
Episode three, which is now available, features Martin Jacques – journalist, academic, and author of the bestseller When China Rules the World - and the panel discussing the Dispatches "cash for access" scandal, and much more.
Dr Or Rosenboim, a Junior Research Fellow in Politics at Queens' College, is the joint winner of the 2014 Raymond Aron Prize, awarded by the Societe des amis de Raymond Aron, L'ecole des hautes etudes en sciences sociales, Paris, for her POLIS doctoral dissertation, "The Emergence of Globalism: Visions of World Order in Britain and the United States, 1939-1950."
Raymond Aron (1905-1983) was a philosopher and political scientist. The Society of Friends of Raymond Aron established the prize in 1997, and you can see a list of prior winners here.
Dr Ayse Zarakol, University Lecturer in International Relations at POLIS and a Fellow at Emmanuel College has been awarded the SWEPSA (Swedish Political Science Association) Guest Lecturer of the year 2015.
The award is presented to individuals deemed by SWEPSA to be international rising stars, whose research advances the field of International Relations. SWEPSA found Dr Zarakol's research to be "cutting edge, adding novelty to the field of International Relations".
Dr Zarakol has also received a Cambridge Humanities Research Grant for her project “Theorising Hierarchies in World Politics” to be used during 2015. Part of the grant will be used towards a workshop that will be hosted by POLIS in June 2015 and will bring together a number of prominent International Relations scholars who work on hierarchy.
It is with regret that we announce that Kate Gross, MPhil in International Relations graduate from St John’s College, passed away on Christmas Day. She was 36.
Ms Gross was the founding chief executive of the Africa Governance Initiative, a charity set up by former Prime Minister Tony Blair which works to “provide practical advice and support” to rebuild structures of Government in post-conflict African states. She also worked as Blair’s private secretary as well as that of succeeding Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
Former Prime Minister Blair wrote an obituary for Ms Gross, which appeared in last weekend’s Sunday Times. In addition, you can read it on his official website.
During the month of December, POLIS staff, students and visitors to the Alison Richard Building collected donations in kind for Jimmy's Night Shelter.
Open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, Jimmy’s Night Shelter is the only emergency accommodation provider in Cambridge, offering a warm, welcoming environment to 20 men and women (and two dogs) who would otherwise be forced to sleep rough or in inappropriate or inadequate conditions.
You can read more about the work of Jimmy's here - http://jimmyscambridge.net/
The collection, organised by Rebecca Burtenshaw (Undergraduate Secretary) called for all sorts of practical items (sleeping bags, clothes) as well as tinned food and toiletries, and by Monday 22nd December there were over 550 separate items ready to be taken over to Jimmy's. This included 39 hats and scarves, 27 pairs of gloves, 80 cans of food and 30 packets of soup.
We would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who donated items and made the collection such a success.
And a special thank you to Rebecca, for organising the collection and to Jamie, for helping to store and deliver the donations.
The first POLIS Christmas Jumper Day was a great success! Thank you to everyone who took part.
Organised as part of the Department's effort to win the Gold Award in next year's Green Impact scheme, it was great to see so many people wearing their best jumpers.
The day happily coincided with the POLIS Christmas Party in the evening for staff and the students on the MPhil in Public Policy, the MPhil in International Relations and Politics, and the PhD in Politics and International Studies, so there was all the more reason to celebrate.
A special thank you goes to Dr Aaron Rapport, for his brilliant Metallica jumper which has won him the final Academic of the Week of Michaelmas Term.
The Cambridge-Africa Programme is a working partnership between the University of Cambridge and several African universities and institutes, which supports the training of African doctoral and post-doctoral researchers.
The video of Dr Srinivasan's talk is below; you can view videos of the other presentations from the event here.
The Annual Report for 2013-14 is now available to .
The report covers the Centres and Research Centres, Undergraduate and Graduate teaching, Research in the Department and much more.
"It has been immensely pleasing to see the new Department come together and grow so well. I should like to thank colleagues and students alike for their commitment, and for a highly successful academic year 2013-14."
Professor Christopher Hill, former Head of Department 2009-2014.
If you attended any Cambridge Festival of Ideas events and would like to give feedback, this can be done on the Festival of Ideas website.
The Department of Politics and International Studies is delighted to announce the second winner of the Lisa Smirl prize for the best PhD completed in POLIS during the year 2013-2014.
The prize is awarded to Or Rosenboim, for her thesis “The emergence of globalism. Competing visions of world order in Britain and the United States, 1939-1950”. Or was supervised by Dr Duncan Bell.
We congratulate Or, who remains involved with the Department in her new role as a Junior Research Fellow at Queen’s College, and also wish to remember the person in whose memory this award is offered. The Prize is named in memory of Lisa Smirl, who gained her PhD in the Department in 2010, but who died of cancer in February 2013.
CIRMENA Visiting Fellow Dr. Jamal Abdullah
Head of Gulf Studies Research at al-Jazeera Centre for Studies in Doha
1-2 pm, 7 November, 2014
ARB, Room 119
Abstract Qatar’s foreign policy has undergone shifts in reaction to regional geopolitical developments. Though Qatari foreign policy was characterized by neutrality and mediation during the first decade of this millennium; it changed direction after the so-called ‘Arab Spring’ began, becoming more interventionist by showing support for Arab populations who were rebelling against authoritarian regimes and demanding greater freedom, dignity and the right to self-determination. But changes in the region since Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani came to power in mid-2013 have once again reshaped the geopolitical landscape and regional power balances. These include the ousting of Egyptian President-elect Mohamed Morsi, the escalating tensions and conflicts in Libya, the expansion of the Islamic State (ISIL) in the region and its seizure of large areas in both Syria and Iraq, the Al-Houthi control of major state departments in Yemen, and the recent Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip. All of these events have impacted Qatari foreign policy as it deals with ongoing developments at the regional and international levels. In reactivating its mediation role, at which Doha excelled during the first decade of the millennium, and utilizing soft power tools while also maintaining its commitments within international alliances to counter threats against Qatar’s national security and regional security, Qatar’s foreign policy has entered a new phase of wielding ‘smart power’, as characterized by Jospeh Nye.
Bio: Dr. Jamal Abdullah is Researcher and Head of the Gulf Studies Unit at Al Jazeera
Center for Studies in Doha. He holds a Ph.D in International Relations Law from Avignon University in France, and Masters degree in International Relations and Diplomacy from Jean Moulin University in France. He obtained two Master degrees from Lumière University, France; one in Political Sociology and another in Political Science. He is the author of “Qatar’s Foreign Policy1995 – 2013: Leverages and Strategies” published in May 2014. Dr. Abdullah has been a Visiting Fellow at the University of Cambridge, since September 2014, and a Visiting Lecturer at the NATO Defense College in Rome since September 2012.
The Department of Politics and International Studies will this year be hosting it's first ever Cambridge Festival of Ideas event. This exciting opportunity opens up the Department to the general public in exploring the Festival's theme of Idenity. More information and a full schedule can be found here and on the Cambridge Festival of Ideas webpage.
"Soft-soap therapy when we need a harder edge."
Read the rest of Professor David Runciman's review of Russell Brand's new book, Revolution, due for release on the 23rd of October here.
Dr Alexander Anievas, Early Career Leverhulme Fellow at POLIS, was recently interviewed for the documentary "The Great War: A War to End Wars?"which aired on the Islam Channel.
You can view episode one below, which features Dr Anievas' first interview. Episode seven also has more from Dr Anievas, and can be viewed together with the other episodes on YouTube.
On 24 September 2014 the Department held a conference on The Future of British Politics to mark the retirement of Professor Andrew Gamble and honour his work over four decades on British politics. Around eighty people came to Queens’ college to discuss his work over three panels on the politics of decline, Thatcherism, and ideas in British politics and to listen to him in conversation with Professor Mick Moran.