About UQ International Relations Theory Forum 2019


This November the School of Political Science and International Studies (POLSIS) at the University of Queensland will conduct the third UQ International Relations Theory Forum. The initiative aims to build a network of outstanding young Australian and New Zealand IR theorists. Highly innovative theoretical ideas are being pioneered by emerging junior theorists, and the Theory Forum will enable them to connect with each other, air their evolving ideas, and get support and feedback from leading scholars in the field. The last two Forums’ from were a huge success, and we look forward to welcoming this year’s participants for what is sure to be a terrific discussion.

The central theme of this year’s Theory Forum is ‘Interdisciplinarity’. One of the great virtues of IR as a field is that it has routinely drawn on ideas from other disciplines: philosophy, social theory, history, economics, law, etc. And some of the most significant advances in our conceptual and theoretical frameworks have come through enlisting such ideas. Yet crossing disciplinary boundaries is also fraught with difficulties. Can ideas developed to theorize at the level of individuals or communities be scaled up to the international realm? When IR scholars draw on arguments and methods from history, are they misapplying them? Is international relations a realm so distinctive, politically and morally, that it requires its own distinctive concepts and theories? Junior IR scholars are confronting these issues everyday as they seek to build innovative new arguments about critical issues in world politics. How we think about all of this, in relation to the specific projects of our participants, will be our focus.

This year’s Theory Forum will be held at the University of Queensland on Thursday 7th and Friday 8th November 2019.

In addition to leading theorists from UQ, many of whom are known for their interdisciplinary innovations, we are honoured to have Professor Laura Shepherd and Professor Glenda Sluga joining the Forum as distinguished scholars, renowned for their interdisciplinary engagements. Professor Shepherd is an ARC Future Fellow at the University of Sydney, and a specialist on gender and international security, with a current focus on the UN ‘Women, Peace, and Security’ agenda. Professor Sluga is an ARC Laureate Fellow and renowned international historian, also at the University of Sydney. Her broad ranging research addresses the cultural history of international relations, the evolution of internationalism, sovereignty, identity and gender history.

The Theory Forum will involve 20 junior IR scholars, and is open to all IR students currently enrolled in doctoral programs in Australia and New Zealand. Students can be working in all areas of IR theory, and need not be writing purely theoretical theses. The Theory Forum is also open to students who are developing innovative theoretical arguments in otherwise empirical theses. The main thing is that participants must be working on such an argument, and be willing to present their ideas at the Forum.

The Theory Forum will be organized around formal student presentations, seeding discussion and debate among participants, junior and senior. The aim is to provide an affirming and constructive environment for the development of new ideas and the building of on-going intellectual relationships. Accepted participants will be asked to provide in advance of the Forum a four page memo outlining their nascent theoretical argument and highlighting the interdisciplinary dimensions of their work. We are particularly interested in the challenges students are facing in their interdisciplinary engagements.

We are pleased to offer 12 bursaries to support students attending the Theory Forum. The bursaries are worth up to $500 each, reimbursed on the basis of receipts for travel and/or accommodation.

Applications to attend the Theory Forum should be submitted by Friday 27 September 2019 to polsis.theoryforum@uq.edu.au

Applications should include:

  • Your current CV
  • A one-page abstract of your thesis, which should include:
    • Thesis title.
    • How far you are into your PHD studies.
    • The questions animating your thesis, and a summary of the theoretical argument you are developing.
    • The theoretical resources you are drawing on.
    • And for this year’s theme, a discussion of the key challenges you are facing in drawing on ideas, concepts, and theories from other fields.
    • And, if you are a UQ applicant, if your application to present is unsuccessful, would you like to be a discussant?

We look forward to receiving your applications. If you have any questions, contact us at c.reussmit@uq.edu.au or s.percy@uq.edu.au

Associate Professor Sarah Percy & Professor Chris Reus-Smit



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