Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Academia and Latin America Policy

Russell Crandall takes academia to the woodshed in the latest issue of Americas Quarterly. I mean blistering. It's a great read.

He argues that we're all too stuck in methodology, too mired in ideology, we spend too little time in the field, and are too enamored of our own opinions.

One key to that reassessment is getting more of our political scientists out in the field, either in Latin America to conduct actual on-the-ground research or in government positions inside the Beltway, rather than ineffectively opining and exhorting from the outside about what should be done. While it may be too late to change the approach of many of our current crop of academics, I hope today’s and future generations of students will take this advice to heart. 
We cannot allow our own ideological or methodological rigidities to distort the interpretations (or kill the curiosity) of budding scholars. Only with such a fresh approach can we begin to sharpen our understanding of twenty-first-century Latin America, and the U.S. role. More empiricism, more nuance, more sobriety (and less emotion and ideology) are critical.

The academia-policy divide has been a long-time topic, but I don't remember ever seeing something so angry. I really like the call for greater self-awareness about whether we're just completely full of BS. We make all kinds of claims and assertions--I've written thousands of such blog posts!--but how much is pure hot air? How much should policy makers listen to us if we're completely out to lunch?


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