The European Political Science Association EPSA is off and running. It has a website, it is on Facebook, it twitters, and offers receptions. You can now join its ranks at a reasonable price and you will very soon be able to submit papers and panels for its first General Conference in the Guinness Storehouse, Dublin, on 16-18 June 2011. But why have another association in Europe? Why pay more membership dues and add another conference date to an already packed calendar?
EPSA is the only Europe-wide association based on individual membership. ECPR (the European Consortium for Political Science Research) has institutional membership, and ECPSA (the European Confederation of Political Science Association) is an organization of national political associations. EPSA thus follows the example of American associations – and it does in other ways, too. As Ken Benoit (Trinity College Dublin), one of the founders of EPSA, explained at the association’s inaugural workshop in June this year, the idea is to provide well-organized and high-quality conferences at conference centers and hotels in easy-to-reach locations – a bit like “Mid-West” and in contrast to ECPR’s conferences in often peripheral universities. Again in contrast to ECPR, which sometimes makes it hard and costly to cooperate with US-based colleagues, EPSA explicitly seeks to promote transatlantic exchange. In addition, it plans to “publish a general journal of political science that will have a profile, impact, and structure on a par with top general political science journals in the United States”.
At the same time, EPSA may well become a niche association in Europe in the beginning. ECPR has made great efforts, with some success, to integrate Southern and Eastern European political science, and it is a platform for diverse methodological and theoretical approaches. At the inaugural workshop of EPSA, the participants came almost exclusively from the northwest corner of Europe and the US and predominantly represented quantitative political science. Some even called for formally committing the new organization to an EITM (empirical implications of theoretical models) standard. It will be a challenge for EPSA to combine high (professional and organizational) standards with credible openness. The first general conference will show where EPSA is heading. Come and see for yourselves. And pour your own pint on the way (out).