A blog by political scientists in Zurich

The internet is replete with blogs. All topics, tastes, and inclinations, from the most mainstream to the most outlandish, are already well represented. Political science is no exception (see, for instance, the excellent Monkey Cage), so why a new blog? Our goal is to engage in a fresh exchange on research, teaching, and the academic profession by exploiting what makes political science in Zurich distinctive, namely a strongly research-oriented and international profile in a European location. The contents of this blog will naturally evolve as we acquire more experience with this medium and, hopefully, thanks to the feedback of our readers, but the following themes will certainly have a prominent place:

Discussion of new research. We see this blog as an opportunity to discuss our work in ways that go beyond what is possible through the normal academic channels, such as conferences and publications. In addition to presenting full-fledged arguments and findings, this blog allows us to discuss bits and chunks of research that may not have their place in a tight paper, but which we find nevertheless illuminating in some way. We hope that our readers will also find them interesting and maybe even give us some feedback.

Dissemination of research findings to the general public. Academia is frequently criticized because it is supposedly too disconnected from the real world. While we do not necessarily agree with this charge, we do think that researchers should make greater efforts to communicate the relevance of the work they have done with public money, and wee see this blog as an effective way for us to do so.

Evolution of the profession. The direction that political science is taking, or should be taking, is the object of longstanding controversies that are nowhere near to be placated. Quantitative vs. qualitative methods, the Americanization of political science vs. the preservation of national diversities, and “publish or perish” vs. the incommensurability of research outputs are only some of the passionated debates that any political scientist is familiar with. Like them or not, they indeed revolve around crucial issues for our profession, and we all have to deal with them in some way or another. Because we are familiar with and able to compare a variety of systems and national traditions, both within Europe and between Europe and the US, we believe that we can offer an original take on these issues.

Teaching. Some scholars have been rumored to say that a perfect university is one without students, but we disagree: teaching is of course an integral and rewarding part of our profession. We are all confronted with similar challenges and problems, from the most strategic (for example, how should a new MA or Ph.D. program be structured and promoted?) to the most concrete (for instance, how can a meaningful mutiple-choice exam be set up?), and this blog offers us a way to discuss these issues.

Commentaries on current events. Although this is not a political blog, we may comment on current events when they are within our specific areas of expertise.

Some occasional frivolities. That is, sometimes we may be less serious than usual.

We hope that you enjoy this blog, and let us know what you think in the comments!

3 thoughts on “A blog by political scientists in Zurich

  1. It’s great to see this initiative! If you keep it up to date, it will become a great resource for scholars, journalists and media staff. I wish you a lot of success and I hope that this blog will be discovered soon by large public.

    By the way: I recently wrote a little article (“Akademische Freiheit, falsch verstanden”) which would be interesting for some of your readers and contributors. It concerns the implementation of the academic reform (“Bologna”) at Swiss Universities. Here’s the Link:

    http://timfrey.wordpress.com/2010/02/15/akademische-freiheit-falsch-verstanden/

    Best regards
    Tim

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