Birkbeck politics

IAPSS World Congress 2015 took place in London’s Bloomsbury last week.  The International Association for Political Science Students (IAPSS) held it’s annual global international congress with Birkbeck College, University of London as it’s host and major partner.  IAPSS is the worldwide representation of students of political science and related studies.  They strive to deliver a sustainable academic contribution to the education of its members and to foster exchange among young political scientists across the globe.  This year’s World Congress welcomed almost 500 students from 5 continents, 32 speakers that are leaders in their field and over 200 student paper presentations selected from over 800 applications.  Inspiring speakers included Professor Sir Adam Roberts from Oxford University; French-Czech political scientist Jacques Rupnik, who was an editor at the BBC in London between 1977-82 and advisor to President Vaclav Havel from 1990 to 1992; and Eric Kaufmann, leading researcher of Nationalism and Ethno-Religious conflict.

Over 4 full congress days, students from all around the world witnessed expert sessions, panels and keynotes by a diverse field of academics, independent journalists and political leaders.  Among notable sessions was a keynote by Carne Ross, the founder and director of the Independent Diplomat, who was in the British Foreign Service from 1989 and his testimony in the Butler Review directly contradicted the British position on the justification behind the invasion of Iraq.  Carne Ross gave a talk on ‘Anarchist Diplomacy: New Approaches to International Relations’, which was filmed by the BBC and will be part of a documentary about him.  Wednesday afternoon saw an invigorating expert panel titled ‘Political Dynamics in the Middle East: Four Years after the Middle East’ attended by H.E. Falah Mustafa Bakir, the Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Kurdistan Regional Government of Iraq; Tarek Osman, writer of the international best-seller Egypt on the Brink; which was moderated by Dr. Barbara Zollner, expert on the Middle East and lecturer at Birkbeck University.

His Excellency Ambassador Michael Žantovský gave a fascinating expert session on Europe and Russia and joined a charged panel with Hussein Shobokshi, independent journalist and businessman from Saudi Arabia; and Ellen Hume, former White House and political correspondent to the Wall Street Journal and now independent media analyst at the Central European University in Budapest; where they discussed ‘Media and Democracy: Limits, Contributions and Contradictions’.

A London Organising Committee and the IAPSS Executive Committee, consisting of members situated across the world in Nepal, Holland, the Czech Republic, Germany and Sweden, conducted the organisation of the entire event.  The three central organisers were Odessa Primus, the Head of Congress in London; Jannick Burggraaff, Head of Congress Management at IAPSS; and Philipp Aepler, the President of IAPSS.  The Congress was hosted by Birkbeck College, University of London, who were also the main partner, and contributed to much of the logistical organisation.  Birkbeck greeted participants from diverse backgrounds and nationalities amongst which were East Timor, Botswana, Mongolia, the Philippines and Australia.  Many of these students were Paper Presenters that brought topics such as ‘On the Role of Non-State Actors’, ‘Sub-National Politics and Communalisation of Governance’, and the winner of the IAPSS Award for Academic Excellency 2015: Mr David Wong De-Wei, from Oxford University, with his outstanding paper on ‘Who is my Neighbour: Cultural Proximity and the Diffusion of Democracy’.

The IAPSS World Congress 2015 in London was the largest congress yet by the International Association for Political Science Students and students are invited to next year’s held in Berlin, Germany in April.  IAPSS holds conventions, study strips, and summer & winter schools, as well as publishes in their several online journals and research portfolios.  This year’s World Congress was a success beyond any expectation and has been praised by participants on social media channels, where it continues to build its reputation and IAPSS membership.