Currently, underway is the Department of Politics and International Relations first ever international student conference. Not only is this special on its own but aside from a little supervision, this conference has been predominantly organised by DEN undergraduate student volunteers
We took aside Dr Farhang Morady, Principal Lecturer in International Relations and Development, and Dr Dibyesh Anand, Head of Department for a short interview to ask how ‘The End of Global?’ became the topic and why students should get more involved in initiatives within the department and the university.
Why are we having a conversation on globalisation?
FM: There are mainly two reasons as to why we have chosen globalisation as the topic. The first reason, since the 1990s, we’ve been told that we are living in a globalised world, that is to say, economically, politically, socially, culturally the world is integrating far more than before. The second point is that the current situation in the global world, the emergence of popular right governments in places like the U.S., has led to the question of the end of globalisation. That’s why we chose this topic as a theme for the conference.
DA: It’s a topic that highlights the diversity of the university as well as, the student body and gives diverse perspectives.
How do you feel about the varied topics being discussed today and tomorrow?
FM: In regards to planning for this conference we tried to make it as inclusive as possible when it came to multidisciplinary parts of the conference. We wanted to have students from different backgrounds; for example from economics disciplines, media disciplines, social sciences in general and law to present papers.
DA: What interests me are the range of topics being covered while being connected to the wider subject. I’m specifically interested in the patriarchy session, but I have found that every session has a few topics that I am interested in. In a sense, if people are interested in the broader issues of Politics, International Relations and Development, then they will find this conference to be of benefit.
This conference is unique because it is not common for there to be conferences specific to undergraduate students to be able to present their research. What made the department change the format of a normal conference?
FM: I like the word unique because that’s precisely what DEN is all about, it is about identifying where students strengths are and building around those strengths. To inspire and encourage students to design and implement projects they are passionate about. Normally conferences such as this are in between academics and for academics but instead, this conference is a training ground for students to use their skills and present their research that they are interested in.
DA: Our department is unique in the sense that all our events are open to students and not just for researchers or postgraduate students. Following the ethos of DEN, we do not want students to be passive recipients of knowledge but rather active participants of knowledge and give them the opportunity to produce knowledge through medians such as conferences. We hope for the future to have more student led conferences and to have student/academic conferences combined.
Why should students attend the conference?
FM: Students who attend the conference can learn from their colleagues, find out how they have organised the conference and presented their research. Hopefully, they will find the topics interesting to their personal fields of research and engage in insightful debates.
DA: When students see academics speaking they are intimidated by their expertise and background in research, but when they come to this conference, they will find that undergraduate students are presenting their ideas that they have written similar to essays. Therefore if these students can do it, so can those who attend the conference. I would like all student to come and witness at least one or two sessions, and that will give them a boost of confidence which they cannot get in classrooms.
This is an edited version of the conversation.