A Week in Westminster by Jessica Simonds
PISP Student, Jessica Simonds, has spent the last week interning with her local MP in Westminster. Jessica shares her experience of working at the hear of government here:
From the week beginning 13th July, I was lucky enough to be offered work experience in the Westminster office of my local representative, the Rt. Hon David Jones MP for Clwyd West in North Wales. The experience was an amazing opportunity to put to the test my academic understanding of UK politics, engage in the working life of the House of Commons and offer my skills and experience in writing policy recommendations. The opportunity also gave me a chance to gain new competencies in writing press releases, corresponding with constituents and liaising with lobbyist groups. The experience not only gave me the opportunity to use and develop skills but to test my ability to be successful in the working world after three years as a student studying International Politics and Conflict Studies.
The work I was given was varied and challenging and tasks ranged from postal triage to engaging in diplomatic meetings. It was a pleasant coincidence that one of my MP’s main areas of interest has moved to the politics of the Middle East, which happened to be one of my most enjoyable modules at Queen’s. Although slightly to the East, the recent nuclear deal in Iran became a main area of debate in the House during my week in the Commons and this was an exciting opportunity to sit in on debates such as Prime Ministers Questions and Oral Questions to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Not only did this opportunity allow me to witness first hand the scrutiny the government is put under following such significant agreements but also sit in on diplomatic meetings with lobbyist groups such as the National Council of Resistance for Iran (NCRI) and hear different sides of the debate on whether the agreement was regarded a success.
A different aspect of the role was engagement with issues raised from constituents, this enabled me to adapt quickly to working on differing issues simultaneously. I was given research tasks on issues such as the assisting dying bill and how the budget will affect North Wales. This enabled me to use skills gained at Queen’s, in particular the ‘Skills and Methods” module which allowed me to evaluate reliability, value and purpose of pieces of data in order to write well balanced and accurate briefings on the differing issues.
Developing professionally, this opportunity has given me confidence in myself to enter the job market following my MA next year, (which will also be at Queen’s) having attractive skills and experience to offer employers. I felt the work I did in the HoC was valued and gave me a genuine portrayal of what is expected of a parliamentary assistant, as opposed to many internships where you’re left making tea and photocopying. The other parliamentary assistants encouraged me and I was made to feel like part of the team. The opportunity has also restored my faith in the political system, although speaking only for the hard work of my MP David Jones; I was able to see how he successfully engages with the issues of his constituents with un-doubtable empathy for their issues and a quick turnaround in resolving problems. I would encourage any student in the School to contact their MP and inquire about such an experience as it has undoubtedly enhanced my employability and confidence prior to entering the job market.
The School was delighted to welcome graduates and their families to the annual awards reception on 2nd July. Hosted in the newly opened Graduate School, the awards reception was an opportunity to honour the hard work and notable achievements of PISP students over the academic year. The awards,presented by Professor David Phinnemore, were as follows:
David Mulholland Prize:
Philosophy Dissertation Prize
Julie Ann Statham Fund
Monsignor Arthur H Ryan Memorial Fund
Joint Honours Prize
Joint-honours student, Kylie Noble, has been awarded the coveted Scott Trust Bursary 2015. one of five people to be awarded a Scott Trust bursary from The Guardian. This award covers tuition fees and living expenses for Kylie to study MA Print Journalism at Sheffield University. As part of the award, Kylie will also complete 6 weeks work experience at The Guardian newspaper.
QUB edited PSA journal BJPIR now ranked 16th
The British Journal of Politics and International Relations (BJPIR) a refereed journal of the Political Studies Association (PSA) of the UK, which has been edited by a PISP team for the last six years, has just received its final Thomson Reuters impact factor, before the journal is handed over to a University of Edinburgh team.
The 2014 Impact factor is 1.566, a 58% improvement on the 2013 impact factor of 0.986. The improved impact factor means the journal is now ranked 16th out of 85 in the International Relations JCR subject list and 32nd out of 161 in the Political Science subject category. In both subject areas the journal is now firmly placed in the top 20% of journals internationally.
This impact factor is the highest impact factor ever achieved by a PSA journal, and the highest ranking for any PSA journal ever. Lead Editor Andrew Baker said, that the latest impact factor is testimony to the PISP team's hard work over the last six years and is the culmination of a clear strategy in which the full QUB team have participated. "It is great success and reflects very positively on the school's vibrant research culture. Editing a journal of this nature in a major undertaking. The BJPIR success has enhanced our international profile and reputation as a unit involved in the dissemination of world leading political science and international relations research."
The full BJPIR team is Andrew Baker (lead editor), Alistair Clark (Newcastle co-editor), Debbie Lisle, Dan Bulley, Susan McManus, Lee McGowan, Keith Breen, Stefan Andreasson, Peter McLoughlin, Graham Walker, Elodie Fabre and Shane O Neill.
Ranking in International Relations
27 of 83
16 of 85
Ranking in Political Science
57 of 157
32 of 161
Dr Muiris MacCarthaigh of the School of PISP will be keynote speaker at the annual staff conference of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform in Dublin on Friday 19th June. Dr MacCarthaigh is conducting a Research Fellowship on the administrative reform agenda of the Department.
Dr Muiris MacCarthaigh from the School of Politics, International Studies and Philosophy has been invited to give evidence at the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Environment, Culture and the Gaeltacht concerning the creation of a new Electoral Commission for Ireland.
Lord Bew delivered a lecture on Charles Stewart Parnell in the Speaker's House, Tuesday 19 May. Listen to the lecture
By Ethan McLoughlin
If I was to try and cover everything on this trip I could write a twenty page essay. Whilst the Maymester is not over yet as the American students are now with us in Belfast for two weeks, our time in Nashville was pretty special so I’m sharing a few key moments.
I began my journey to begin the Maymester module on Sunday 3rd May with a flight from Belfast to Newark Airport and then a six hour layover before getting on the plane to Nashville. Whilst the layover did seem to go on for ever, it was actually really beneficial. I didn’t know most of the students who were coming from the History department so this was a great opportunity to meet them properly. We made it to Nashville around 10 pm. So to say it was a long day would be an understatement. Despite being tired, the drive from the airport was a real eye opener for me because until you come to America you don’t appreciate the size of the place!
So, after a much needed sleep in our accommodation, day one began with us getting our new Vanderbilt card which finally gave me the opportunity to have a nice photo on a student card! Once we got out cards, we were told about everything we could with them (the list was endless) such as buy breakfast, lunch and evening meals at local restaurants (my breakfast for the entire two weeks was about as American style as it gets, it did not deviate much from French toast and Pancakes the true American experience).
We also found out we could use our cards on all public transport into the country music hall of fame, the Johnny Cash museum and the Andrew Jackson estate to name but a few. Whilst we were there we were also able to catch a colleague baseball game again for free because we were students.
After our first class the Vanderbilt students took us out for a tour of the beautiful city we were staying in. The Vanderbilt campus is really picturesque- check out the photos! After class, a few of us went for a walk to the local park and found one of the most unique buildings I have ever seen, a full scale replica of the parthenon building in Greece.
Sightseeing was an important part of the trip. We visited a lot of really interesting museums and places including: Nashville city’s historic sites, the National Civil Rights Museum, the site of the civil rights battle in Atlanta and the National Institute for Civil Rights. Unlike some of the other places we had visited, the Institute was only opened in the last few years. It was definitely a case of saving the best until last- the technology was fantastic and we felt that they provided a lot more depth of analysis on the movement. Of course, there was time for a few non-academic trips too…. such as The World of Coke which was across the road from the National Institute strangely enough. One of the key American things I was looking forward to experiencing was shopping US-style. It’s difficult to fully describe Walmart except that it’s as about as American as it gets!
I ended the trip thinking about travelling back to Belfast the next day and how my time in the US was something I will never forget. We discussed a wide range of issues with the US students which was great because we were all able to learn about each other’s political systems, student life etc. When I applied for the Maymester I never expected to get on it and when I left Belfast on that rainy Sunday morning, I never expected it to be as special it was. I never expected to grow as close to my Vanderbilt friends as I did and I think the next weeks will cement these relationships I have made for life.
Dr Muiris MacCarthaigh from the School of PISP has been invited to address participants from across the Northern Ireland public service at the Department of Finance and Personnel’s forthcoming ‘Innovation Lab’ on the topic of Shared Services in Government. Dr MacCarthaigh has been conducting research on this topic as part of his Public Service Reform Research Fellowship.
Lee McGowan is presenting a paper on ‘The Farage Factor and the Rise of Purple Populism’ at a conference on Current Populism in Europe that is being held at the Charles University in Prague on 19 May.
INTERESTED IN SEEING EUROPEAN INSTITUTIONS FIRST HAND? £30 for PISP Students
Visits and talks from officials in NATO, the European Commission, the European Parliament, the Office of the Northern Ireland Executive in Brussels and the UK Permanent Representation.
INTERESTED IN LEARNING ABOUT EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES IN BRUSSELS?
Contact Dr Lee McGowan, tel: ++44 (0) 28 9097 1089, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr Keith Breen will deliver a plenary lecture entitled “Work and the Right to Meaningful Work” in the Economy and Society PhD Summer School being held in Blackwater Castle, Castletownroche, Co. Cork, 11th to 16th May 2015. The Summer School is organized by the Waterford Institute of Technology, in collaboration with University College Cork, and brings together over 50 academics and PhD students to explore important issues of political economy and the current state of our dominant economic order (http://economyandsocietysummerschool.org/). The Summer School will be opened by the President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins.
A review of the hustings event by level 2 student, Ethan McLaughlin
The Great Hall was host to a South Belfast hustings event ahead of the general election on May 7th. The constituency seat has been held by leader of the SDLP, Alasdair McDonnell, since 2005. McDonnell is standing for re-election against Bob Stoker of UKIP, Clare Bailey of the Green Party, Mairtin OMuilleoir of Sinn Fein, Jonathan Bell of the DUP, Paula Bradshaw of Alliance, Rodney McCune of UUP, Ben Manton of the Conservatives NI and Lily Kerr of the Worker’s Party.
Gathering in the packed Great Hall, there was a great mix of students from across a number of different schools and people of the local community. The event was hosted by the BBC journalist William Crawley and began with each candidate giving a short forty five second presentation, outlining the key goals they promised to promote if elected.
Unfortunately Lily Kerr, Alasdair McDonnell and Jonathan Bell were unable to attend the event but both The Worker’s Party and SDLP provided a different representative for the event. The DUP did not send another party member.
Following the introductory statements, the event moved on to hearing questions from the audience about key issues for them about the local community. Issues of LGBT and equal rights took centre stage, highlighted by another equal marriage vote failing in the assembly. The question was asked: ‘what would you do as a MP to promote equality in Northern Ireland?’
None of the candidates in attendance came out strongly in opposition to marriage equality and it was interesting to see many representatives openly question the stance of fellow MLAs within their party who did not vote in favour of marriage equality. Some were keen to emphasise the need not to marginalise those were not in favour of the bill for religious reasons.The event then went on to cover a number of different issues including a possible NI referendum on leaving the European Union. Mr Stoker of UKIP, the Workers party, the UUP and the Conservative party all supported a referendum with Sinn Fein advocating with for a separate one for Northern Ireland.
Towards the end of the evening, a question was heard on the candidate’s thoughts about rolling out Ed Milband’s plans for social housing going to those who have lived in a given community the longest. Many candidates pointed out that there could be an issue with this in Northern Ireland because it would further entrench communities when focus should be on integration. Moreover, it was argued by many candidates (except UKIP) that social housing should be allocated on the basis of need rather than location.
PISP student, Cliona McCarney, asked the candidates how they would encourage youth engagement in politics. Mr O Muilleoir, before answering the question, also added how over the moon he was to finally meet Ms McAallister in the flesh having so far only known her via his twitter account! All candidates said they were focused on engaging young people in politics and would like to see institutions, such as Queen’s, open their doors to those who may currently be disengaged.
The evening finished with a final 30second pitch from each candidate on why they, on a personal level, deserved your vote. We won’t tell who won us over the most….that is up to you!
Former civil servants talk about governing Northern Ireland Eileen Sung and Mary Bunting gave the benefit of their insights on how government works to the Britain and Ireland in Comparative Perspective class. This first year lecture was extremely well attended, and the two speakers, former civil servants, received a very warm welcome from the students. It was organised by module convenor, Professor Yvonne Galligan.
The School of Politics, International Studies and Philosophy (PISP) was honoured to host Former US Senator, George Mitchell, for a Q&A session with students on 22nd April. A Democrat, Senator Mitchell served as a United States Senator from 1980 to 1995 and as Senate Majority Leader from 1989 to 1995.
Since retiring, Senator Mitchell has taken up a variety of positions in politics and business. He has taken a leading role in negotiations for peace in Northern Ireland and in the Middle East, specially appointed as the US Envoy for Northern Ireland (1995-2001) and as US Special Envoy for Peace in the Middle East (2009-11). Senator Mitchell was key to the peace agreement of 1998 in Northern Ireland and was the main investigator of the Mitchell Reports into the Cause of the Second Palestinian Intifada (2000-05). Senator Mitchell was Chancellor of QUB from 1999-2009, has served as chairman of Walt Disney (2004-07) and international law firm DLA Piper.
Senator Mitchell is unsurpassed in terms of his commitment as a mediator to resolve conflict and create the environment for peace.
Senator Mitchell visited the University to deliver the annual Harri Holkeri lecture. The title of the Senator’s lecture was ‘Reflections on Brokering Peace in Divided Societies’. Following the lecture, the Senator kindly set time aside to meet with a group of PISP students and answer the questions they had prepared for him on the theme of ‘mediation’.
Video recordings of Senator Mitchell’s talks can be found here.
Researchers at Queen’s have come up with a novel user-friendly ‘app’ to help members of the public decide who to vote for in the upcoming general election.
The WhoGetsMyVoteUK app asks voters a range of questions, including some Northern Ireland-specific ones, in order to identify which party most closely matches a voter’s values. It can be accessed on a smartphone, tablet or any other gadget with internet access: http://www.whogetsmyvoteuk.com/.
This Northern Ireland Voting Advice Application (VAA) was developed by researchers at the School of Politics, International Studies and Philosophy (PISP) at Queen's as part of a larger UK-wide project led by researchers at Queen Mary in London.
The Belfast Telegraph is hosting the app and an article in the paper, written by PISP's Dr John Garry and Dr Neil Matthews, may be accessed here
The app asks voters to answer a series of policy questions, relating to economic and social issues, as well as specific Northern Ireland issues such as flags and parading. Because the app includes questions on issues that do not usually get prominence in Northern Ireland (such as left-right issues or liberal-conservative issues) some voters may be surprised about the party they are closely matched with.
WIP is a six-month program of personal and professional development that brings outstanding university students from Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland to Washington, DC for summer work placements and leadership training. The program is focused on the values of humility, empathy, respect and integrity and requires practical service at both the beginning and end. Over 400 students have now passed through the program and WIP aspires to see its alumni become the next generation of leaders that will achieve a peaceful, stable and prosperous future for Northern Ireland and Ireland.
The School interviewed Paul about his tremendous achievement and here is what he had to say:
Q. Congratulations on getting onto the programme- the competition is very stiff for places! How did you find the application and interview proces
Q. What attracted you to the Washington Ireland Programme?
Q. How do you feel that your time here at QUB helped you prepare for applying to WIP this year?
Q. Do you know where you will be interning this summer? If not, do you have any hopes as to where you will be placed?
Q.What are you most excited about?
Q. What do you hope to take away from the summer in DC?
Congratulations to PISP's Professor Dave Archard who has been appointed Deputy Chair of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority.
Professor Archard has been a Member since 2005, and is currently Chair of the Authority’s Statutory Approvals Committee also.
PISP is delighted to announce that Visiting Research Associate and University of Pennsylvania graduate Jake Gutman has been named a 2015 Carnegie Junior Fellow, and will serve as a research assistant at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
John Paul “Jake” Gutman is currently a Visiting Research Associate at Queen’s University Belfast where he is conducting research on the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist groups in the Middle East and North Africa. Under Professor Beverley Milton-Edwards, a leading expert on Islamism and Middle Eastern politics, he has edited and revised the manuscript for her forthcoming book on the Muslim Brotherhood since the Arab Spring.
Gutman is one of ten fellows selected from a national pool of 400 participating US universities this year.
Additional information about the Carnegie Junior Fellowship program is available at http://carnegieendowment.org.
Professor John Barry co-directing workshop for the European Consortium on Political Research joint sessions Pisa, Italy, 24-28 April 2016
The workshop is entitled 'Reframing Environmentalism: Environmental Political Theory in the Anthropocene'.
Although climate change has brought about a new awareness of environmental problems, it has also complicated our view of the socio-natural relationship and hence the conversation about the transition away from unsustainability. It has done so by exposing the degree of what may be termed the ‘metabolic exchange’ between society and nature, which is the outcome of a long history of reciprocal influence and human intervention. In this context, the notion of the ‘Anthropocene’ has emerged as an attempt to encompass the human ability to act as a powerful agent of environmental change. Yet we are also re-discovering the extent to which we are ourselves influenced and constrained by the nonhuman environment. If it is increasingly difficult to distinguish between society and nature, arguing that the achievement of sustainability can be achieved by humans retreating from the natural world also becomes untenable. Thus, a number of questions arise:
The advent of climate change has already transformed and challenged environmentalism in its far-reaching consequences for the analysis, values, motivations etc. upon which it is based. This workshop will try to elucidate whether a new, ‘fourth-wave’ environmentalism is emerging, entailing the end of environmentalism as we knew it – or whether the news of the death of environmentalism is exaggerated.
More Details here
A Day of Talks, Topical Debate, Performance and Song
The Cross-Currents in British and Irish Working Class Life Interdisciplinary Research Group are pleased to announce a collaborative engagement event, which will be held on Friday 22nd May, at the Brian Friel Theatre, Queen's University Belfast.
This is a full day event, with a broad range of disciplines and research areas represented by the range of speakers and exhibitors, outlined below. The conference is supported by QUB's Institute for Collaborative Research in the Humanities, and is the continuation of a successful year of public-academic engagement activities, which seek to pose, and interrogate, new research questions relating to working class history, politics, culture, literature and music.
The project, headed by Professor Graham Walker, School of Politics, International Studies and Philosophy at QUB, has sought to transcend the boundaries imposed by traditional, academic disciplinary categories, in order to effectively address research agendas on British and Irish working class life. In addition, the project aims to move the knowledge produced by universities into public spaces, where it can have most significant impact.
A full conference programme will be made available shortly. Given the quality and range of the speakers, we anticipate that this event will be extremely well-attended, and so advise those interested in attending to register their interest with Sophie Long via email (email@example.com).
List of Speakers
Dr Margaret O’ Callaghan, author of seminal works on Roger Casement, Tom Kettle, and British government policy towards Ireland -discusses Ireland and Britain in the context of Empire on the eve of the 1916 Easter Rising.
Monday 6 April
THE TWILIGHT OF EM PIRE. IRELAND & BRITAIN IN 1915
BEFORE THE RISING – Panel discussion hosted by David McCullagh, RTÉ
Prof. Ronan Fanning, Historian and Author.
Dr. Conor Mulvagh, UCD.
Dr Margaret O’Callaghan, QUB.
Prof. Alan Titley, UCC.
Dr. Maurice Manning, NUI.
TIME: 11.30-12.50 PLACE: BALLROOM, WYNN’S HOTEL
Full Programme details
Queen’s University Belfast launched a new MSc programme in Public Policy this month at Riddel Hall. The MSc in Public Policy, which is a part-time offering, will see its first intake commence in September 2015.
The programme is designed for mid-career civil and public servants who wish to prepare for senior leadership roles within their organisation. Taught over two years, this multi-disciplinary programme is focused on the development of professional knowledge, personal leadership and skills. The programme is based on the idea of public service as a distinctive and professional activity, which makes a vital contribution to the quality of democratic governance that must be continually improved.
Dr Muiris MacCarthaigh, programme director for the MSc, noted: Cutbacks have been the ‘new norm’ for governments across the OECD states for a number of years and Northern Ireland is now heading into a period for year on year retrenchment. The civil and public service must use this time to invest in developing new skills and capacities for its future leaders in order to make better public policy decisions, improve the quality of services and create a public service that facilitates and accelerates a return to growth and development.’