An International Methodology Colloquium?

In my experience, one of the toughest things about being a political methodologist is often being the only member of the subfield in the department. It’s not always true, of course, but I think that many departments–even those with highly-ranked PhD programs–have one (or at most two) people who identify their primary field as political methodology. This means that we don’t necessarily have local colleagues that we can engage with on methodological research problems, even to the extent of chatting about new developments in our field. It also means that our opportunities to see new methodological research are limited, as the majority of the department’s talks will primarily engage the substantive questions and interests of the other subfields. Fortunately, methodologists do have some opportunities to learn, work, and talk together. The annual POLMETH conference is always a highlight of my year, and the ICPSR and EITM summer institutes provide the chance for advanced training.

But I think we can do a bit more.

In a couple of weeks, I’m submitting a grant to fund an International  Methods Colloquium. In brief, what I want to do is hold a weekly, interactive, on-line research talk every week where a scholar presents his or her methodological research to a live audience and interacts with that audience via real-time questions and answers. It’s basically a weekly research talk, except that we get together on-line because we’re scattered all over the world. Somewhat less briefly:

With funding, I will develop, organize, and produce a weekly interactive colloquium for methodological research in political science. I call this the International Methods Colloquium (or IMC). This project will leverage off-the-shelf, commercially-proven technology to bring methodologists in political science and allied fields into interactive conversation with scholars, students, and private researchers all over the world without travel or venue costs for the participants. Presenters will be recruited via professional websites, e-mail lists, and promotion at conferences; applications to present will be collected via our website and vetted by the advisory board. Viewers will be made aware of the weekly presentations via similar channels. The initial focus of the IMC will be on methodological work in political science, but once this base is established it will branch out to include methodological work from statistics, economics, psychology, and other quantitative social sciences.  Over time, demand from presenters and viewers (and their supporting institutions) will make the IMC financially self-sustaining.

My proposal is essentially complete, but I think it would be enhanced by having a list of scholars who would be interested in presenting a talk to the IMC, if it were funded. If you think this is the kind of thing you’d be interested in, please shoot me an e-mail at justin@justinesarey.com indicating your interest. It’s a low-risk commitment; all you’d be saying is that if the IMC existed, you might want to give a talk (and that I can put your name into my grant application). Of course, if I get the funding, everyone on the list will have the first opportunity to get on board. All levels of faculty and graduate students are welcome!

If you really want to go the extra mile and volunteer to be on the proposed advisory board, you can e-mail me about that as well (faculty only, for this role)! In this case, I’ll e-mail you with a bit more information so that you know what you’re getting yourself into.

If you’re interested, let me know before Friday, January 10th; I need to finish up this grant!

About Justin Esarey

Assistant Professor of Political Science at Rice University.
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