Ad Hoc Committee on ISA in the World

We emerged from the COVID lockdowns to many changes in the world and in the way we interact. This is thus a good moment to take stock and outline steps to ensure that ISA continues to serve its purpose to promote international understanding that meets the challenges of a changing global environment. 


We issue charges to two subcommittees:

  1. How should ISA navigate in the increasingly charged and violent political and social environments that characterize many parts of the world? ISA has typically limited its public statements to issues of academic freedom. In the wake of blatant domestic and international violence as well as legacies of injustice in numerous contemporary structures and threats to democratic practices all over the world, it expanded its remit somewhat but some have wondered whether the organization should be taking a more energetic stance. This sub-group will work with relevant committees (including the academic freedom committee and the professional rights and responsibilities committee) but also consult widely within ISA and among kindred professional associations to suggest principles to guide the organization’s public statements and actions as well as processes to guide its activities. We ask that this subcommittee report back on its assessments and recommendations before the 2023 annual meeting to inform both policies the executive committee and governing council might adopt.
  2. How should ISA support the interaction between research and practice? ISA has long supported the interaction between academic research and practice. This interaction, though, is distinct in different places, around diverse issues, and among varied sorts of academic and practitioner profiles. What can we learn from conversation across these different perspectives? We ask this sub-committee to organize and participate in a series of conversations through the year, report on them at the 2023 annual meeting, and consider whether there are steps ISA should take to improve interactions in this space.

About the Committee

The Ad Hoc Advisory Committee on ISA in the World is an ad hoc committee, created by President Deborah Avant. Committee members are appointed by the ISA President.

Membership and Terms

  • The committee members serve an unlimited term while the committee is on an ad hoc basis
  • The committee includes seven ex-officio members (President, President-Elect, Past President, Executive Director, and Director of Operations)

Conversations on Interactions Between Study and Practice

Scholar-Practitioner Interactions in the Global South

FEBRUARY 1, 2023, 11:00AM (US EASTERN TIME) (Watch the Recording on ISA's YouTube Channel!)

As in other areas of International Relations, the study of interactions between academia and the practitioner world, related to state policymaking, NGOs, IGOs, civil society activism, the private sector, or the media, is based on experiences located primarily in the global North. This conversation between scholars located in and working on distinct sites in the global South seeks to examine the ways in which scholar-practitioner relations unfold in settings outside the North, the potential drivers and obstacles to meaningful exchange, and the existing standards of scholarly “relevance” or “impact” that exist in diverse parts of the world.

Workshop on Academic-Policy Engagement

JANUARY 12, 2023 (Learn more about this event here)

On 12 January 2023, SCGA co-sponsored a day-long workshop on engagement between academia and policymaking and the benefits and challenges of policy-relevant research. This workshop was part of the ISA in the World series of similar events being held across the International Studies Association’s (ISA) global membership. These series promote discussion of how researchers engage (or not) with policymaking in different local contexts around the world. As one of the ISA VPs this year and co-Director of the Scottish Council on Global Affairs (SCGA), Julie Kaarbo (Edinburgh) co-organized the workshop with Maggie Dwyer (Edinburgh), co-Director of Edinburgh’s Centre for Security Research (CeSeR). The workshop was funded by ISA, SCGA, and CeSeR.

Innovative Public Engagements

SEPTEMBER 28th, 2022, 1:00 - 2:00 PM (US EASTERN TIME) (Watch the Recording on ISA's YouTube Channel!)

We are living through a mercurial period wherein the relationship between higher education and the public sphere is full of uncertainty. Bridging the gap between the academy and the world has become ever more challenging. In this environment, how might scholars build inclusive partnerships with civil society through innovative methods of public engagement? This dialogue between International Relations scholars and members of Johns Hopkins' SNF Agora Institute will explore the issues and consider practical ways forward. PANELISTS: Joshua Busby, Henry Farrell, Hahrie Han, Sithembile Mbete, and Kelebogile Zvobgo.

Engaged Scholarship in the Midst of Crisis (held at ISA-IDSS Crete 2022 Conference)

Contemporary overlapping crises raise questions around how academic experts engage with practitioners to address global problems. Practitioners often seek out guidance from experts in the midst of societal upheaval, but policy engaged researchers face several dilemmas that complicate productive response. To begin, practitioners have their own agendas, not always visible, that may not line up with those of the researcher. Next, crises are often the product of complex, interdisciplinary dynamics, larger than the discrete disciplines in which scholars are trained. Also, policymakers often seek certainty and clear advice from experts, but scholarship is contingent on assumptions and available evidence, and almost always carries with it a degree of uncertainty. Compressed, emergency-driven timelines can create pressures to disregard the careful conceptualization, data collection, and analysis important for high quality research. Global tumult has also upset the university environment, heightening the burdens scholars face. Pressures to be productive and relevant under difficult personal and financial circumstances can intensify these dilemmas. As part of an ISA initiative to encourage conversations among different perspectives on the role of international studies in the world, this roundtable brings together scholars leading policy-engaged work from different substantive and geographical viewpoints to share insights from their various social and political contexts.

Chair: Fritz Mayer
Participants: Deborah Avant, Eric Degila, Nicole Deitelhoff, Balazs Martonffy, & Michael Tierney

Read the summary here

Committee Members

Brent J. Steele | Chair
University of Utah

Aisha S. Ahmad | Member
University of Toronto

George J. Andreopoulos | Member
City University of New York

Lina Benabdallah | Member
Wake Forest University

Mike Bosia | Member
Saint Michael's College of Vermont

Dean Cooper-Cunningham | Member
University of Sheffield

Kristina Hinds | Member
University of the West Indies

Juliet Kaarbo | Member
University of Edinburgh

Anthony F. Lang, Jr. | Member
University of St. Andrews

Maria Mälksoo | Member
University of Copenhagen

Omar Shahabudin McDoom | Member
London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)

Cintia Quiliconi | Member
FLACSO Ecuador

Robbie Shilliam | Member
Johns Hopkins University

Arlene B. Tickner | Member
Universidad del Rosario

Deborah Avant | Ex-Officio
University of Denver

Laura J. Shepherd | Ex-Officio
University of Sydney

Kristian Skrede Gleditsch | Ex-Officio
University of Essex

Mark A. Boyer | Ex-Officio
International Studies Association

Jennifer Fontanella | Ex-Officio
International Studies Association