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Students Represent CMSS at ISA 2017 Baltimore


From left to right: MSS student Kiernan McClelland at his panel; PhD Candidate Saira Bano in front of USS Constellation in Baltimore harbour; PhD Candidate Ian MacMillan at the convention lobby

Every year, over 5,000 people from around the globe descend upon a North American city's downtown for the International Studies Association's Annual Convention. Perhaps the largest gathering of international studies scholars in North America, ISA conventions have proven to be excellent venues for academic discussions and networking. Over the past half-decade, CMSS students have consistently succeeded in being accepted to present at the prestigious event alongside more seasoned academics, ensuring the University of Calgary and CMSS maintain a substantial and well-known presence in the field of security, defence, and strategic studies. 

Three CMSS students were invited to present at the 58th Annual Convention in Baltimore, Maryland, February 22-25, 2017: PhD Candidates Saira Bano and Ian MacMillan, and MSS student Kiernan McClelland.

This year, Saira participated in a roundtable panel chaired by University of Connecticut's Dr. Jennifer Sterling-Folker, well known for her work on global governance. The roundtable, entitled The Academy as a Hostile Work Environment: Challenging the Chilly Climate for Women, aimed to discuss strategies and constructive ideas on how to not just survive, but flourish, in academia's hostile environment towards women. The panel had a fantastic range of experiences and levels from graduate students to senior women scholars, providing Saira with an opportunity to discuss her PhD research with senior scholars in the field.  

For Ian and Kiernan, this was their first ISA annual convention, and it left them quite the impression.

Ian presented his paper, "Hatching the Egg: Fighter-jets, supercars, and complex technology," on the Military-Technological Innovation: Causes and Effects panel. Generally, Ian noted the panel was "well-attended, informative, and collegial", receiving "great feedback" from the panel discussant. Amongst the audience members was the editor of Defense Studies journal, underlining the prestigious company in which the students found themselves. Ian's highlight was meeting "legendary" offensive realism theorist Dr. John J. Mearsheimer, who enthusiastically accepted Ian's photo request. Ian was also able to catch up with an old professor, who was also an author on the strategic studies comprehensive exams list. In the brief time between the conference's conclusion and his flight, he had the chance to walk around Washington, D.C. - the Mall, Union Station, and Capitol Hill were every bit as impressive as Ian imagined, and he looks forward to being able to more fully explore the city in the future.

Kiernan's paper, "From Sputnik to Space Weapons: Redefining a 'Space Power' in the 21st Century Security Environment," met with positive feedback on the Space and Security panel, which was "professional, insightful, and unique." The audience and panel members were comprised of not just distinguished academics, but many practitioners from aerospace agencies as well. This proved to be a humbling experience for the young Kiernan, who took the opportunity to build connections south of the border. Outside the conference, he particularly enjoyed his visit to Fort McHenry, where he could see the other side of the War of 1812 and where the Star-Spangled Banner was written. Somehow, a Park Ranger got wind of Kiernan's origins, and asked him whether Canada was interested in annexing Alaska; to this day, Kiernan remains uncertain as to the intention of the question.

Plaque at Fort McHenry illustrating the American perspective of the War of 1812.

The students are grateful for the funding provided by CMSS to help cover the costs of the conference.