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Mershon Center for International Security Studies

Mershon Center for International Security Studies

  • WAGING PEACE

    Mershon panel held September 9, 2014, explores non-violent approaches to resolving international conflict.

  • VIEW EVENT ARCHIVES

    The Mershon Center has a video archive of almost 500 events dating back to 2002.

  • CLIMATE SECURITY INITIATIVE

    Mershon Center, Byrd Polar Research Center join forces to launch new initiative on climate change

  • PEACE CONFERENCE 2014

    Members of the student Peace Studies Society organized a conference and awards ceremony at the Mershon Center.

  • 2013 KRUZEL LECTURE

    Aaron Friedberg gave the 2013 Joseph J. Kruzel Memorial Lecture on "A Contest for Supremacy: China, America and the Struggle for Mastery in Asia," on November 15, 2013.

  • 2012 ELECTION CONFERENCE

    Panelists at The Confirming U.S. Presidential Election of 2012 conference, held October 11-12, 2013.

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Mershon News

Alexander Wendt

In a periodic survey of faculty at more than 1,400 colleges and universities worldwide, Alexander Wendt was once again named as the most influential scholar in international relations over the past 20 years. Wendt is Ralph D. Mershon Professor of International Security at the Mershon Center.

The survey was part of the Teaching, Research, and International Policy (TRIP) Project done by the Theory and Practice of International Relations at the College of William and Mary in collaboration with Foreign Policy magazine. Wendt was also named for most influential scholar in international relations in the 2011 survey.

Wendt is author of Social Theory of International Politics (Cambridge, 1999), widely cited for bringing social constructivist theory to the field of international relations. His book argues that international politics is determined not primarily by material concerns such as wealth and power, but by states' perceptions of each other as rivals, enemies, and friends. Social Theory of International Politics was named Best Book of the Decade by the International Studies Association in 2006 and has been translated into 10 languages.

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Erik Nisbet

Study finds different topics bedevil the left and right

COLUMBUS, Ohio – New research suggests that liberals, as well as conservatives, can be biased against science that doesn’t align with their political views.

The study found that people from both the left and right expressed less trust in science when they were presented with facts that challenged specific politicized issues.

For conservatives, climate change and evolution were the issues that led them to lose some trust in science. For liberals, it was hydraulic fracturing (fracking) and nuclear power.  The results challenge recent books and articles that claim conservatives alone have difficulty dealing with scientific fact.

"Liberals are also capable of processing scientific information in a biased manner," said Erik Nisbet, co-author of the study and associate professor of communication and political science at The Ohio State University.  "They aren't inherently superior to conservatives."

The researchers caution that the results shouldn't be interpreted to create a false balance in which each side could be seen as equally wrong on all issues.

"Our point is there is evidence of bias on both sides, although the bias may appear on different issues,” said co-author R. Kelly Garrett, also an associate professor of communication at Ohio State.

For example, "liberals may be biased about some issues, but that doesn’t mean they are wrong about humans causing climate change," Nisbet said. "You can’t say our study supports the climate denialism movement."

The study, also co-authored by graduate student Kathryn Cooper, appears in the March 2015 issue of The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science.

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Joshua Kertzer

Joshua Kertzer (PhD, political science, 2013) was awarded a 2014 Council of Graduate Schools (CGS)/ProQuest Distinguished Dissertation Award, the nation’s highest honor for doctoral dissertations. Kertzer’s dissertation, “Resolve in International Politics,” was selected from 71 nominees representing 25 disciplines in the social sciences. He was presented the award on December 4 during the CGS annual meeting in Washington, D.C.

Kertzer’s dissertation, which was supported by a grant from the Mershon Center, examines the concept of resolve, which is a commonly used but insufficiently understood independent variable in international relations.

He describes resolve as “an interaction between situational stakes and dispositional traits,” and uses a range of different methods to explain why certain types of actors are more sensitive to the costs of fighting, while others are more sensitive to the costs of backing down. Kertzer’s faculty advisor was Richard Herrmann, professor and chair of the Department of Political Science and former director of the Mershon Center.

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Daniel Sui

Study shows limits of 'liberation technology' in advancing change

COLUMBUS, Ohio – The serious air pollution problem in China has attracted the attention of online activists who want the government to take action, but their advocacy has had only limited success, a new study has revealed.

Instead, much of the online conversation has been co-opted by corporations wanting to sell masks, filters and other products and by government officials advancing its own environmental narrative, the study finds.

Researchers at The Ohio State University analyzed about 250,000 posts on the Chinese social media site Sina Weibo (similar to Twitter) that discussed the pollution problem in the country.

They concluded that online activists did force the Chinese government to take some actions to tackle the pollution problem. But they also found that business and government dominated much of the conversation and used it to their own advantage.

"Social media has been touted as a 'liberation technology' for citizens, but we found the story wasn’t so straightforward in China," said Daniel Sui, co-author of the study and professor of geography at Ohio State. "Along with the positive gains brought by social media, there were negatives.

Sui conducted the study with Samuel Kay and Bo Zhao, both graduate students at Ohio State at the time of the study. Their findings appear online (article available here) in the journal The Professional Geographer.

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Dakota Rudesill

Students in Mershon affiliate Dakota Rudesill’s National Security Law class this fall had an unusual assignment for their final exam: They participated in a two-day immersive national security simulation held November 14-15, 2014, at Moritz College of Law.

Stepping into the shoes of lawyers, policymakers, intelligence analysts, and reporters, the students dealt with a series of realistic national security crises ripped from the headlines. They had to apply law, policy and facts they had learned in class to navigate the simulation’s outcome.

The National Security Law and Process simulation explored decision making in federal executive and legislative branches at the intersection of law and policy regarding national security, under crisis conditions. It was an open-universe, dynamic, immersive simulation that moved in real time over 48 hours. Students had agency, and their decisions dictated outcomes for the story lines.

Participating in the simulation were Mershon Center faculty affiliates Peter Mansoor, who played the president of the United States, and Peter Shane, as well as Mershon graduate student affiliates Daniel Curzon, Rudy Hightower, and Will Waddell. Throughout the event, Rudesill drove the players toward particular issues and dilemmas.

Chief Judge James E. Baker of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces and former legal advisor to the National Security Council, gave the keynote address, emphasizing the importance of integrity and good process in decision-making.

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Featured News

  • Atzili

    Atzili wins Mershon Center’s Furniss Book Award for ‘Good Fences, Bad Neighbors’

    Since World War II, nations have operated under the consensus that territorial aggression and conquest of one state by another should be prohibited.  While this has greatly reduced confli ...

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  • archives

    Mershon Center events live on through recorded archives

    Each year, the Mershon Center for International Security Studies holds about 50 speaker events and conferences that reach more than 3,000 attendees from across Ohio State and the Central O ...

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