Friday, July 1, 2016

Sabbatical Starts Now!

It has been ten years since my previous (and only sabbatical).  I lost a heap of credit (most places that have sabbaticals require something like six years of service for one year of sabbatical) moving to Ottawa.  I don't regret the decision at all as I am very happy to be starting my fifth year in Ottawa this week.  The timing is good as well, as I am now ready to really get into this new project now that most of the older projects are out of my hands.

So, what I am doing with my sabbatical?
  1. The focus of the year is making progress on the Dave and Phil and Steve project: understanding the varying roles played by legislatures in their countries' civil-military relations.  Dave has already done much of his work talking to Europeans as he is also working on an Arctic Security project.  Phil was supposed to be on sabbatical, but his move to NPSIA (woot!) disrupts that a bit.  Still, he is going down under as well as over there for his part.  
    1. I will be spending October and part of January in Japan asking politicians, officials, and military officers about their roles and perceptions.  I will also be working on related projects on Japan's civil-military relations with Takako Hikotani, who teaches at Japan's National Defence Academy.  I am very grateful to the Social Sciences Research Council and the Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership for both funding this part of the sabbatical and for fostering the circumstances that lead to partnering with Takako. 
    2. I will be going to South Korea and Brazil for shorter trips to do the same thing.  I hope to squeeze in a trip to Argentina and Chile. 
    3. If I manage all of these trips (I was supposed to go to Brazil this year, but their impeachment politics got in the way), then I will have completed nearly all of the research for the project.
  2. A secondary focus is on completing a bunch of smaller projects that have been mostly sitting on a shelf:
    1. What do Canadian IR academics think of gaps between the academic and policy worlds?
    2. I have long had an idea about bureaucratic politics from my year in the Pentagon that I just never got around to articulating.
    3. Finish an R&R or two.
  3. Apply for a Partnership grant that would link Canadian academics, defence scientists in government, Canadian military institutions, and private actors.  This is going to be a huge commitment of effort, not just by me but by the other folks involved.  I tried a smaller version of this before, which didn't work out.  I have put off the larger version as I was more focused on funding my own research, but now that I have done that, it is time to return to this effort.
  4. Read.  During my first sabbatical, I tended to grab anything I found interesting in two areas: civil war stuff (Kalyvas, Weinstein, etc.) and the mess in Iraq (Imperial Life, Assassin's Gate, Cobra II).  This year's reading will be both more and less focused:
    1.  Catching up on the major journals in my field.  I am woefully behind.  I hope to dedicate one day per week (probably going to be one day ever other week) to reading journal articles from the past five years.
    2. Reading some of the books I have bought over the past five years or so that have gone unread.
    3. This reading effort is not just due diligence, but also to inspire me to see what questions I want to ask after the current project.  I have some ideas, but I am open to doing something completely different for the next sabbatical.
I know that sabbaticals appear to be a luxury to non-academics, but they are so helpful and so very important for recharging one's intellectual batteries, for making major progress on big research projects, and for broadening horizons and amping imaginations.  I am very grateful that I have this opportunity.  I am very thankful for the resources that will allow me to meet and work with interesting people in parts of the world I have barely glimpsed.  I know that I am lucky.  And as I always say on the ultimate field when a teammate catches one of my lousier throws, saving the point, better to be lucky than good!


hannah said...

Congratulations, friend. You deserve it - looking forward to seeing the fruits of your research! Can I ask how you selected the countries of focus? Which European ones, in particular, did your partner study?

Steve Saideman said...

We wanted variation in institutions, so we wanted to have a roughly equal number of presidential systems, Westminister systems, and European style parliaments. Given our previous work and some of our related work, we started with many of the countries we looked at before and then added some:
Presidential: US, France, South Korea, Brazil, Chile, Argentina
Westminister: UK, Canada, Australia, NZ, South Africa
Euro style: Belgium, Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, Japan