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Doctoral students present work at Stockholm conference

By: Kathy Hovis,  A&S Communications
Thu, 06/02/2016

From left, government faculty members Gustavo Flores-Macias and Sarah Kreps with graduate students Colin Chia, Minqi Chai & Caitlin Mastroe.

Six doctoral students from the Department of Government presented papers and met fellow PhD students and faculty interested in issues of global security during a workshop May 23-25 in Sweden.

Sarah Kreps, associate professor of government, and Gustavo Flores-Macias, assistant professor of government, organized the event with colleagues in Stockholm and the help of a $25,000 internationalization grant from the Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies. The trip also included visits to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) and the Uppsala Peace and Conflict Studies Department at Uppsala University, which both maintain resources and data related to global security concerns.

Cornell students presented papers on security issues related to Latin America, China, Russia and Southeast Asia as well as research on foreign direct investment and its connection to intrastate conflicts and the changing nature of collective security arrangements.

“It was a very enriching conference because, as a researcher, you want people to engage with what you’re doing and ask question about things you haven’t thought about,” said Jessica Zarkin, a first-year doctoral student studying violence and democratic development in Latin America. “And the European system (of research) is so different, based on theory rather than data analysis, that listening to their perspective gives you a broader analysis of how you can move forward with your research.”

Students had 10 minutes to present their research, then 30 minutes for discussions and questions. Six students from Stockholm University also presented their work.

Minqi Chai, another first year doctoral student who is interested how countries around the world have reacted to China’s rise in power, said she connected with other PhD students and faculty at the workshop who are interested in the same area of research.

“I plan to stay in contact with them so we can discuss our work, share research materials and maybe have some cooperative projects in the future,” she said.

Even in the era of Skype chats and virtual meetings, the students and Kreps all said that face-to-face meetings offer unique benefits while students are in school and afterward.

“We are trying to help our students become more networked, especially in this era when there are 300 people applying for each job,” said Kreps, who delivered a keynote address at the conference about her research on drone proliferation. Along with networking connections and future collaborations on research projects, Kreps said SIPRI expressed interest in hosting a Cornell doctoral student for a research stay.

“It was interesting to see that although we might think about issues in slightly different ways, we’re thinking about a lot of the same issues,” Kreps said about the faculty and students attending the conference.

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