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Title: Creating a dialogue : are scholars from Mars and policy makers from Venus?
Authors: Desker, Barry
Keywords: Social sciences::Political science::International relations
Social sciences::Political science::Political theory
Issue Date: 2005
Source: Desker, B. (2005). Creating a dialogue : are scholars from Mars and policy makers from Venus?. Australian Journal of International Affairs, 59(3), 269-274.
Journal: Australian Journal of International Affairs
Abstract: In their stimulating article, ‘On Bridging the Gap: The Relevance of Theory to the Practice of Conflict Resolution’ (Australian Journal of International Affairs, 59:2 2005), Jacob Bercovitch, Kevin Clements and Daniel Druckman have addressed an important issue in the study of international relations—the perceived gap between scholars and policy makers—or to put it in another way (in by now well-known terms used in a different context): ‘scholars are from Mars and policy makers are from Venus’. They challenge the view that ‘policy makers and scholars inhabit different worlds and have little [time] for each other’. They further contend that ‘there is a strong symbiotic relationship between the two’, especially in the field of conflict resolution ‘where policy makers may be in desperate need for guidelines, advice and analysis on how to transform complex situations into more peaceful ones’. They argue that ‘[i]f we truly want to understand conflicts, and facilitate their resolution, we must, we suggest, discuss such efforts only within a set of theoretical ideas’. While Bercovitch et al. note that neither scholars nor policy makers can exist without the other, they emphasise that ‘knowledge or theory. . .is the only possible guide to action, and policy makers ignore scholarly theories and knowledge at their peril’. Bercovitch, Clements and Druckman provide useful insights into why policy makers should be aware of IR theory. They are especially acute when they suggest that policy makers make decisions based on unstated theoretical perspectives or implicit conceptual visions. The problem is that they seem unaware that claiming exclusive authority over the provision of possible solutions to extant problems ensures that they will remain voices ignored by policy makers. I would argue that there is merit in scholars and policy makers learning from one another and that the study of international relations needs to return to its intellectual roots as a subject geared to helping to understand and resolve real world problems.
ISSN: 1035-7718
DOI: 10.1080/10357710500231172
Rights: © 2005 Australian Institute of International Affairs. All rights reserved.
Fulltext Permission: none
Fulltext Availability: No Fulltext
Appears in Collections:RSIS Journal Articles

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