95% of American scholars of international relations think that the U.S. in 2008 was less respected abroad compared to the past, and 75% think this is a major problem (2% say it is not a problem at all). That's one of the findings of the 2008 edition of an annual survey of 2,724 international relations scholars released today. The survey by Sue Peterson, Mike Tierney and three co-authors of IR scholars in ten countries also found that only 18% of American IR scholars admit to having supported the invasion of Iraq in 2003, 8% believe that the U.S. presence in Iraq improves American national security, and 70% support a timetable for U.S. withdrawal from Iraq. 57% think that a redeployment from Iraq to Afghanistan will improve U.S. security.
Most of the survey was not about such headline-grabbing current political issues, of course. The annual survey is really designed to give a snapshot of the field -- methodology, analytical paradigms, area of study, job prospects, top programs, and so on. This annual survey has become a standard reference for evaluating the state of the field in International Relations. Here are some of the findings which struck me as interesting:
There's lots of other interesting tidbits for people to explore in this annual survey of the state of the IR field in 2008. So enjoy!
UPDATE: Drezner (also a Williams undergrad!) finds some other headlines in the results:
fewer than half as many scholars (23 percent of respondents in 2008 compared to 48 percent in 2006) describing terrorism as one of the three most significant current foreign policy challenges facing the United States. Most surprisingly, while 50 percent of U.S. scholars in 2006 said that terrorism was one of the most important foreign policy issues the United States would face over the subsequent decade, in 2008 only 1 percent of respondents agreed. American faculty members are becoming more sanguine about the war in Iraq, as well: in 2006 76 percent said that the Iraq conflict was one of the three most important issues facing the country, but in 2008 only 35 percent of U.S. respondents concurred.
UPDATE 2: My friend Alex Wendt writes in gentle reproach to point out that he has, in fact, published more than the UFO article since 2003, noting a couple of articles and an "(admittedly forthcoming) chapter I have arguing, again from a quantum perspective, that the international system is a hologram." Noted. I would also point out, in Alex's defense, that he has spent the last few years slaving over the launch of a much-anticipated new journal, International Theory (with Duncan Snidal).
While it's all in fun, I do want to stress that I didn't mean to criticize Wendt, who is a long-time friendly acquaintance and deservedly one of the most influential international relations theorists of the last 20 years (ditto for Mearsheimer), but rather to poke fun at the "most interesting work in the last 5 years" category. As I said to Alex, he will no doubt revolutionize the field again with his next round of publications, at which point he will no doubt fall off the "last five years" charts and be replaced by Ken Waltz.
Regarding the "last five years" category, Mike Tierney, one of the editors of the TRIP survey, writes to acknowledge that this question usually produces odd results because the field is so divided -- even the top vote getters rarely get more than 10%. In fact, he initially told me that he thought that a few years ago Hans Morgenthau (who died in 1980) had made the "last five years" list. Alas, that was too good to be true -- though Morgenthau does rank as #18 in the "last twenty years" category in this year's survey, 29 years after his death.
Another reader writes in to challenge my praise for Williams by claiming that Dartmouth (ranked 8th in the survey) should also be considered a liberal arts college. I don't know... Dartmouth has a great program and some absolutely first-rate IR scholars, but should an Ivy League school really be included in the "liberal arts" category even if it is small and undergrad oriented? I don't know enough to say. So, point duly noted.
D'oh! Missed Oberlin at #9 for undergrad degree. That's liberal arts for sure. That beats Williams, tied at #13. Clearly, Williams is on the decline since I left!
... and a final Saturday morning update, to end the NESCAC wars once and for all: "Williams college was #17 and Oberlin was #9 on the question "From What Institution did you receive your undergraduate degree." Williams was tied for 13th with Cornell and MIT for "What are the five best colleges or universities for undergraduate students to study IR." Oberlin was nowhere on that list and neither were our competitors (Amherst, swarthmore, etc) As for decline, in the 2006 version we were in sole possession of 18th place so we have moved up a few spots since you left. In fact, GW was #10 in the 2006 survey and now they are not listed so the case for causal significance is clear on both ends!" At least I don't have to wear purple anymore...
And that's a wrap..
Marc Lynch is associate professor of political science and international affairs at George Washington University.