Development and Migration in Washington Post’s Monkey Cage section

Today my colleagues Benjamin Schraven and Steffen Angenendt, and I published an article about why wealthy nations should still be committed to providing development aid to countries with high emigration rates. It’s an important topic, especially since well designed development and migration policies can have positive outcomes for both sending and receiving countries. Enjoy reading!

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Some Observations on Development and Migration

This week I was the featured writer for the Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik/German Development Institute’s Current Column. I shared my thoughts and observations on how development and technical cooperation can support livelihoods in countries where people may otherwise migrate, often taking on extraordinary risks, to seek work and economic opportunities. Es gibt eine Deutsche Version hier.

Enjoy, and thanks to DIE-GDI for posting it!

Genocide Studies and Prevention special issue on tech and atrocity prevention

The latest issue of Genocide Studies and Prevention features a special collection on technology and genocide/atrocity prevention. I had the good fortune of being asked to write the closing article, a short synthesis of the fascinating collection of articles covering a range of issues from technical challenges to legal and ethical considerations.

It’s a solid collection, and wades into core issues in the tech for atrocity prevention space that demand further multi-disciplinary attention. A special thanks goes to Douglas Irvin-Erickson at George Mason University’s School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution for asking me to contribute!

Development, Economic Aid, and Forced Displacement: An ISA Panel

A few colleagues and I are organizing a panel for next year’s International Studies Association meeting in San Francisco on forced displacement, state fragility and international development. We have a few slots open for those who may have a paper that fits the theme – if you have something you’d like to present I’d love to hear from you!

Below is the panel title and abstract:

Panel: Development, Economic Aid, and Forced Displacement

The rapid changes in global political, environmental, and economic systems have strongly impacted patterns of migration, notably manifesting in an increase of people displaced by conflict, climate change and economic shocks. This panel addresses the role that economic aid and development policy play in stabilizing forcibly displaced populations, analyzing migration and displacement dynamics at the local, regional, and global levels. Specific topics include cross-national statistical analysis on the impact of economic aid on migration patterns, regional analysis of intra-African migration policy, case studies of aid impacts at the local level in Southeast Asia, and meta-analysis of how the international studies field conceptualizes state fragility and forced migration. The panel adds value to the wider field of international studies by presenting local, regional, and global analysis of the interplay between the global development and migration fields, using multiple methods that can inform future research and public policy discourse. It also speaks directly to an issue, forced migration, that will become an increasingly important as nations and international organizations adapt to a world marked by rapid political and economic change, the decreasing influence of borders, and increased mobility of citizens.

If you’re interested in having a paper included, please email me with questions or a title/abstract (200 words or less) at: Charles.Martin-Shields[at]die-gdi.de by May 29. It should be a fun and interesting panel, and we’d love to have you join us!

Going From Science March to Political Impact

I was at the Bonn/Köln iteration of the March for Science and it was a good time. But as I watched the marches around the world, especially in the U.S., my thoughts turned to how to create further action. Large turnout in cities populated predominantly by people who already value science and empirically-based policy making can only go so far. A few quick thoughts going forward…

  1. Get involved in local politics. This is a goal I’ve set for myself, at least as much as I can as a non-citizen in the country I work in. It’s amazing how much physical and social science training can be put to use in local settings. For example, everything I know about collective action problems is not only useful in studying participatory governance in developing countries, it’s also applicable to town and city government. If you’re in the Earth sciences, get on the planning board or an Earth-science relevant area of local government.
  2. Once you have achieved joining the local government *do not turn into a know-it-all*. I have expertise in collection action problems; my job is not to remind people how dumb we are as a species for falling into the normal collection action traps. My job is, understanding those traps and knowing how they work in theory, to help the rest of my town hall compatriots manage them. This isn’t a lecture hall, it’s participation in governance.
  3. Think about how to broaden the base. Yes, a march is good and snarky signs are funny, but at some point people in districts in other parts of the country will elect representatives. As scientists, we have to make science valuable to people, so that they don’t elect charlatans who would take us back to the Middle Ages to line their pockets with a few bucks from lobbyists. One way to do this is to make the history of applied science, and the collective role of society and government in that history, central to any argument about the value of science in public policy. As scientists this starts with us – we have to be fluent and engaging in not only explaining the practice of our work, but the history (social, political, economic) of how our work fits into society. I read a great book on the history of urban planning in New York City a while back; there was a lot of detailed analysis of the engineering science, but it was written wonderfully. I had no idea how interesting, both from a social and chemical standpoint, concrete was. Making interesting what seems banal to non-scientists  would go a long way.
  4. If you have tenure, run for office. It’s hard as hell getting an academic or research career started, so if you are established and have some clout and job security, take advantage of your privilege and get involved in politics. Younger researchers will model this behavior as they become established as well.

That’s I’ve got at the moment (well, lots more, but it’s only a blog post). Be excited about science, be excited about it’s role in society, and don’t forget: People often vote on emotion. Empirics are good, but an engaging story will go a long way, too.

Education and National Strength: A good take

Anthony Eames, a doctoral candidate in history at Georgetown University, wrote a superb defense of the role of education in supporting strategic strength and the importance of government investment in that enterprise. As an academic who also works in policy, I’ve always believed that government investment in education (especially the humanities) leads to a stronger society.

What I find most compelling about his argument is that he cites not only the importance of tech and math education (which is important), but also the value of the humanities, and comprehensive primary through secondary education.

Frankly, it’s not possible to be a strategic power in the modern world unless there is significant government investment in education, from elementary through graduate school. It’s also not enough to put all the resources into STEM; the arts and humanities are a necessary component of a well-rounded education that supports an informed, critically-thinking citizenry.

If the U.S. wants to be a world leader in anything, whether it be security, economic growth, innovation, or good governance, it will have to do away with its current strategy of self-defeating cuts to education and research funding.