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WCF in Conversation with Jacqueline Best

Follow your interest or follow the field? How (not) to leap between research interests

To be held on Thursday 17th January 2019

2.30-4.00pm, University of Warwick, S1.50 (Social Sciences)


As early career researchers we are confronted with a dilemma: We need (and are expected) to build an academic reputation in a particular topic or field which very often leads to a specialisation on a narrow theoretical, topical or empirical field. Yet, as societies change, new research issues and research areas arise. Our curiosity shifts, and we are suddenly interested in topics or debates that are not necessarily related to our previously gained expertise.

How can we pursue diverging research interests – without being considered 'all over the place'? How do we venture into new research areas – whilst simultaneously retaining our expert status in a field? How can we bring experiences gained in one field into another? How best to approach and join 'new' academic debates? And how do we accommodate (or resist) competitive pressures to reconcile these different research interest in a consistent research journey?


Our Guest

To address these and more questions, we are excited to get into conversation with Jacqueline Best, Professor at the University of Ottawa. Jacqueline is an internationally acclaimed social scientist, whose research sits at the intersection of international relations, political economy and social theory. She has published on an astounding variety of topics and debates, ranging from economic exceptionalism, to the roles of ambiguity and transparency in global finance, to the role of culture in Political Economy and the politics of failure in global governance. That is to say, she is a great example of an academic turning the dilemmas above into a highly successful career. Therefore, we are very much looking forward to discuss her experiences with a diverse academic agenda!

All PhD students welcome!


The Discussion

To make this as fruitful a discussion as possible, attendants are invited to prepare:

  1. A short description of their own research topic and a reflection on whether their natural tendency would be to be narrowly focused or broader in their research.
  2. A few thoughts on what kind of flexibility or dynamism they might want to build into their research careers
    (e.g. conversations with other disciplines or sub-disciplines, engagement with new empirical questions, theoretical debates, or policy issues, etc.).
  3. Any specific concerns that they have about finding the right balance.

Attendants will then be given the chance to discuss these points with Jacqueline and the rest of the group.


Annual IPE Lecture afterwards

After this event, Jacqueline will deliver this year's Annual IPE Lecture titled 'Little failures: Rethinking neoliberalism's early days', in which she re-evaluates the early history of neoliberal policies (in the UK, USA and Canada) and challenges contemporary accounts of neoliberalism thereby opening up space for imagining a different political and economic future.

The Lecture will take place from 5.00-6.30pm in L5 (Science Concourse).