March 3, 2008

Student Journal Focuses on International Politics

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The Cornell International Affairs Review released the inaugural issue last semester, seeking to fill what it considers to be a void in the level of foreign policy discourse at Cornell. The scholarly journal aims to spark academic debate and eventually serve as an influential voice in international policy making.
The publication features articles ranging in topics from the challenges facing Europe to China’s influence in Africa to an assessment of NAFTA. The first issue of the journal — which plans to be published biannually — featured an equally varied group of contributors that included French Cabinet Minister Michel Barnier, as well as international scholars and Cornell undergraduate students.
The CIAR aims to promote both discourse on international issues at the University and influence discussion and policymaking around the world, according to founding member and Executive Vice President Luis De Lencquesaing ’10.
“The goal is not only to give Cornell students the opportunity to branch outside the bubble of daily school life, but also serves as a link for the outside world inwards to Cornell,” said CIAR President and founding member Gracielle Cabungcal ’09.
The CIAR has a three-part strategy in analyzing the complexities of foreign policy, that includes an interdisciplinary, intergenerational and international approach.
“A Cornell agriculture student may have a different vision than a Pakistani scholar or a French government student,” said Lencquesaing.
According to Lencquesaing, the journal will also be intergenerational by combining the idealistic tendencies or even naïveté of undergraduate students and the often more pragmatic approach of more experienced scholars.
Internationally speaking, the journal will cover a broad range of topics and issues from around the world. Lencquesaing said that a Pakistani student’s article in the inaugural issue covering China’s influence in Africa is representative of the scope of the diversity of viewpoints that the organization is trying to achieve.
“I think [the CIAR] is filling an important void,” said Prof. Ross Brann, near eastern studies. “It clearly speaks to a need that was not being addressed on campus.”
Brann, who is a faculty advisor to the group, expressed confidence in the journal’s success, citing the group’s well-organized leadership and large student support.
Lencquesaing, who is an international student from France, said that he came to Cornell expecting to instantly meet people from around the world with different global perspectives, but upon arriving he found it was not easy to find a strong international student community.
“I had a hard time finding all those wonderful people who were described to me. Every college seemed to be very inward looking.”
A formal academic and scholarly forum is not the publication’s only goal, according to Lencquesaing, who emphasized the importance of the CIAR in fostering social interaction across different student perspectives. CIAR provides a setting in which students can forge friendships and exchange ideas with people of diverse perspectives, he said.
The CIAR journal is an independent, student publication that is financed by several university sources, including several academic departments and the Student Assembly Finance Committee, as well as more than a dozen individual contributors.
CIAR leaders also said they hope the publication will eventually be influential and widely read by policy makers.
“We’re very ambitious. We want [the CIAR] to become influential to Cornell alumni, [in] Washington and around the world,” Lencquesaing said.
In addition to the publication’s distribution on campus, Lencquesaing said it was being distributed at several Pakistani embassies and online. The group also said it sent copies to several foreign policy think tanks and political and diplomatic leaders.
The next issue, which will be released in early to mid-April, will explore the role of the American university in foreign policy as a transnational actor in American foreign policy.
By deciding what scholars they accept from other countries, where they distribute research funding abroad and where they set up campuses abroad, American universities have significant diplomatic influence on foreign affairs, according to Lencquesaing. He said the CIAR will further examine the relationship between the United States government and academia, as foreign policymakers are influenced by academia and many academics make up the government.
This spring’s issue will also debate the pros and cons of democratization as a foreign policy, Lencquesaing said.