How to Win at Being a Grad Student – Part I

It’s that time of year again. Summer is almost over and classes start in just a couple of weeks. Soon, NPSIA will be greeting many new MA and PhD students. In order to help incoming students adjust to life at NPSIA, I asked the faculty to provide some advice on how to win at being a grad student. They were very helpful. The result: a blog series on the dos and don’ts of grad school as per your professors. Below is part one. It outlines the art of academic reading. Yes, there is a right way and a not-so-right way to do it and doing it right should help you better manage your workload and get the most from your courses.

Learning to Read: Words to Live By

Prepare yourself! At NPSIA, there may be a lot more reading than you are used to. These fall basically into two types. The first type, textbook reading, will be familiar to you. For this material, you are expected to read every word and remember the key concepts described in it. Detailed note-taking may be helpful. These types of readings will be in the minority but will predominate in Statistics, Methods and the core economics courses.

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Venezuela’s unlikely rescuers: the US and Cuba?

By Jean Daudelin

Given the scale of its problems and the “quality” of its government, Venezuela could have collapsed into a civil war years ago. It did not. The restraint shown by the opposition and especially the fact that most weapons were on the Chavista side kept the lid on the pot.

The crisis is now deeper than ever, with deadly department stores’ looting now joining crippling shortages of basic necessities, increasing unemployment, the world’s highest inflation rate, stratospheric levels of corruption, disintegrating public services, crumbling infrastructure and terrifying levels of criminal violence.

At the same time, the government’s quasi-monopoly of violence is breaking down. President Nicolás Maduro’s control over the military and party militias has always been partial with National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello, in particular, keeping a much-purged and corrupt military for himself. There are rumbles, however, both on the party militia side and within the military. Without surprise, the regimes’ much used but long unruly street gangs’ loyalty is less assured than ever. When it comes, in other words, the violence will start from within Chavista ranks.

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The sorry state of Canada’s foreign policy debate

By Valerie Percival

Much of the debate about foreign policy is directed towards the elected government, and the political positions it takes on current international issues. These positions deserve public debate and scrutiny, particularly given the upcoming October election. But what about the machinery behind the elected government? Much of foreign policy actually revolves around the day-to-day performance of unelected leaders within the bureaucracy. Do we encourage these leaders to develop and maintain skills – the knowledge base, the willingness to assess available research and evidence, and the intellectual curiosity necessary to be innovative in the face of new challenges? Perhaps this should also be an issue for debate during our election campaign.

To effectively teach in the field of international affairs, professors face several challenges. The field covers pretty much everything these days, from the traditional — conflict, security, trade, and development — to the more novel — health, environment, energy, finance, and more. The field is also prolific; new ideas and ways to view the world constantly emerge. Moreover, the world itself continually changes — the unexpected is always around the corner and tomorrow will not be like today. Explaining current events can be difficult. Yet explanation is definitely easier than predicting what will happen next year, or even next week.

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