Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Point of Pride

Today, my last McGill grad student signed her contract for a tenure-track position.  I am very proud of this contribution to McGill: nearly every student whose dissertation I supervised has found a good tenure-track position.  Sure, it screws up my arguments that folks should not seek PhDs in political science, but I guess it is worth it.  This year, three of my students got jobs, making my total of seven in all, starting with the first (aside from my one TTU Phd student):
  • Brent Sasley is at U of Texas at Arlington after writing a dissertation comparing Israeli and Turkish foreign policy. 
  • Jonathan Paquin is at Université Laval, who was daring enough to aim his dissertation (and also a co-authored article) directly at my first book and publications.  
  • Suranjan Weeraratne is at Southern Illinois U Edwardsville.  He was the first triple threat of my McGill students: a great research assistant, a great teaching assistant, and then as my head TA the first couple of times I ran the big Intro to IR class.  He suffered much without complaining as I learned how to manage a six hundred student class and eight TAs mostly by offloading the work onto him.  Then, his dissertation was on variation of targeting of Chinese in Indonesian riots with my favorite invented word: Scapegoatability.
  • Ora Szeleky is now at Clark University.  She took took over Suranjan's roles as great RA, great TA, and head TA for Intro to IR.  Her project required hanging out with, ahem, terrorists, comparing the three major militias confronting Israel to determine what causes some to do succeed/fail more than others.
  • Jessica Trisko will be starting at Western University (formerly University of Western Ontario) next fall.  She was most deft in developing networks that gave her two years of hanging out with scholars of civil war in that resort town of New Haven.  She is completing her dissertation on the fungibility of foreign aid and how it can be used to facilitate repression.
  • Aisha Ahmad will be starting at the University of Toronto Scarborough, which means she joins the faculty of the largest graduate program in Canada or anywhere else, I think, at the U of Toronto.  She was never shy to criticize my take on Afghanistan.  Her dissertation considers the political economy of Islamic movements and state formation: why some Islamic movements succeed and un-fail states (at least temporarily) while others fail.
  • Sarah-Myriam Martin-Brûlé will be starting next fall at Bishop's University.  She was also an excellent RA and TA.  Her work focuses on the conditions that facilitate or inhibit the success of peacekeeping operations, comparing a multitude of PKO's in Africa in Somalia, Liberia and Sierre Leone and beyond.
What do they all share?*  What is the key to their success?  Some had publications and were done with their dissertation before they got a tenure-track position.  Others did not.  I think what they do share are intense curiosity, really interesting questions, some fun and provocative answers, and they worked really hard.  Only a couple really addressed anything close to my expertise, with one of those arguing that I was/am wrong.  Hardly Saideman disciples.   

* I was reminded when responding to a tweet about the future of Saideman students dominating Canadian IR that my students do share a common approach to Political Science--as positivists seeking to answer questions and to generalize. None are post-modern--I would not be able to provide good advice to anyone that seeks to upset the "normal science" in which I dwell. So, don't count on any of Team Steve ending up at York University to name just one outpost of Post-modern IR.
I had the pleasure of dining with those who were attending the ISA two weeks ago as the first and hopefully annual meeting of Team Steve.  I am most proud of what they have accomplished and take far more credit than I deserve. While I had the most fun at McGill in the classrooms with the undergrads, I learned the most and gained the most satisfaction from my work with McG's grad students.

The funny thing is that success has consequences--I went to Carleton on Friday to my first supervisee's dissertation proposal defense.  Yes, even before I start, it has started.

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