Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Launching the Blog: Fears and Aspirations

All right, I admit it: I am nervous about launching a blog.

My profession is politics and international relations. As an academic, blogs are a risky business. It's not quite the thing to do in the academy, as scholars are supposed to be removed from all that. Scholars focus on the timeless relationships in social science, such as there are; they do not, typically, focus on policy issues of the day.

Yet as a citizen of Canada, a resident of America, and a student of global affairs, I am not quite satisfied by that. I find it difficult to subscribe to the philosophy that says that academics ought to think about politics intensely, yet never do anything about the world around them. In fact, some of the best academics I know behave in just the opposite manner: they are not afraid to engage in public debates and contribute their expertise where they think it can be helpful. The Dean of the Woodrow Wilson School here at Princeton, Dr. Anne-Marie Slaughter, keeps a blog; so does Dr. Paul Krugman, who also writes enormously popular columns for the New York Times; and my own advisor, Dr. Robert Keohane, is an avid environmentalist when he is not working on international relations theory. If great academics can engage in the issues they care about in the world around them, then maybe I can follow humbly in their footsteps.

So I am launching this blog as my voice on policy issues. I'll focus my writing on three topics: Canadian politics, US politics, and international politics. Each entry will be labeled so that readers can focus on what interests them. If you're a Canadian and feel you already get an earful on US politics, fine. If you're an American and aren't sure what the capital of Canada is, well, shoot, you're like most Americans. But the "polls" on the side of the blog are for everyone; just promise me not to take them too seriously.

The name of the blog, Policy from Principle, is the brainchild of an old friend, Susan London. (Thanks.) It has a special meaning for me, because I think that my education and research in the social sciences give me some expertise with which to contribute to policy debates. And it is in this spirt that the blog will move from principle to policy.

The name represents the hope that policy doesn't have to be merely the product of self-interested politicking that makes so many of us frequently cynical and jaded. The name represents a hope that policy can be informed by something other than pork-barreling, log-rolling, and horse-trading for votes. It is a hope that policy can be informed by solid facts, by principles, and by thoughtful reflection. It is a hope that policy might contribute to a better democracy and a better world.

So let the blogging begin.

No comments: