The International Relations Priorities Of Ivory Tower Elites

Inside the Ivory Tower
Daniel Maliniak, Amy Oakes, Susan Peterson, Michael J. Tierney; Foreign Policy; March/April 2009, p. 84

This interesting article summarizes some of the data from the Ivory Tower Index.

If the Obama administration took as its blueprint the poll of views of international relations scholars on issues ranging from the economy to Iran, the results would be at once expected and surprising. It’s a largely liberal internationalist agenda, one that names the most important foreign-policy priorities facing the United States as: global climate change (37 percent), the war in Iraq (35 percent), global reliance on oil (34 percent), armed conflict in the Middle East (32 percent), and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (27 percent). A large majority of the experts favor increases in foreign aid (85 percent), free trade agreements (70 percent), and increased spending on the global aids epidemic (59 percent). Although these scholars oppose using military force against Iran even as it allegedly pursues a nuclear weapons program, a clear majority favors humanitarian intervention in Sudan if conducted under the aegis of an international institution such as nato or the United Nations. (It’s worth noting that had the survey been sent in December, after the global economic collapse, financial issues likely would have secured a higher spot.)

President Obama clearly shares the experts’ concerns. On global warming, he has appointed a climate czar; on oil, he favors strengthening fuel-economy standards; and on the Iraq war, he is sticking to his plan to withdraw U.S. troops. Having one of their “own” in the White House—a law professor with a liberal, like-minded agenda on the policymaking table—may already have scholars feeling more included.

Well, that’s reassuring. What would these Ivory Tower professors of international relations to if given a billion dollars?

Although 85 percent of academics report that the U.S. foreign-aid budget should expand overall, scholars also agree about where not to spend the money—the military. Sixty-four percent of experts say that U.S. spending on defense should decline. Instead, when security and economic issues are taken off the table and scholars are given a three-way choice among foreign aid, global aids spending, and climate change, the majority of these academics would spend any windfall on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

And where are these elite schools, you ask?

With four of the top master’s programs located within or just outside the U.S. capital, the hot spot to pursue the policy track remains inside the Washington Beltway. Those more interested in purely academic pursuits will want to tread the coastlines; the northeast corridor is home to five of the top 10 Ph.D. programs, and California has three of its own in the top 10.

The Northeast, of course. Saltwater schools are tops.

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