ISA-West, a regional division of the International Studies Association, held its annual conference in September 2017 in Pasadena, California. ISA-West brings together students, faculty, and scholars from around the region, the U.S., and the world to present their research and discuss global issues. This year, with generous assistance from the Rue W. Ziegler Scholarship Fund, two MAIS students presented their Capstone work. Jessica Tran presented her paper entitled “Increasing US militarization of the Asa-Pacific region and its impacts on regional stability from a critical security perspective”. Tristan Burger presented her research project “Small Arms: An Applied Approach to Children in Armed Conflict Prevention Initiatives”. Below, Jessica shares her experience:
After conducting preliminary research on my thesis project throughout the summer, I had the opportunity to share my work at the ISA West Annual Conference in Pasadena, California. Presenting in a panel on U.S. Foreign Policy and International Conflict, I was excited to share my thesis project and gain valuable feedback from peers and established scholars.
Not only did I receive constructive responses for my project, but I also had the opportunity to connect with many scholars whose area of expertise relate to my academic interests. I met my rockstar, J. Ann Tickner, whose tremendous work in Feminist IR and critical security studies inspired me to think more critically about the analytical approach to my project. I engaged in a lively discussion with IR Professor Sanjoy Banerjee on China’s security infrastructure; he promised we could stay in touch and provide guidance on the case study portion of my project.
Additionally, David Lake—the discussant for my panel—offered considerable support to myself and other panelists, including extending the discussion of our papers and general career advice over coffee. These interactions were truly the highlight of the trip. I enjoyed sharing and discussing IS ideas, but the immense support of the IS community in developing emerging scholars was what really blew me away. I left tremendously encouraged with not only my thesis project but also the prospects for life after MAIS.
In participating in the conference, I faced a lot of personal fears—fear of public speaking, fear of presenting my ideas to the world, and fear of rejection. I can’t say I’ve been completely cured of these insecurities, but I’m grateful for the experience to tackle it head on and come out the other side a bit more confident and determined.