Duke students dominate annual International Studies Association Midwest Conference
The Laboratory for Unconventional Conflict Analysis and Simulation (LUCAS) sponsored Duke students to present their research at the International Studies Association Midwest division held their annual conference held on 19 to 22 November, 2015, in St. Louis, Missouri. Students from Political Science, Asia and Middle East Studies, International Comparative Studies, and Dr. Rivera’s Public Policy course on Iranian Grand Strategy, participated on two LUCAS sponsored panels. The first panel focused on Iran and Hizb’allah’s activities in Latin America. This panel was fairly well attended and sparked some interesting discussions on Iranian capabilities and intent in Latin America as well as the relationship between Hizb’allah and various narcotrafficking groups.
The second panel titled: The Future of Iraq: the view from Tehran, drew a significant audience and generated a great deal of discussion. The panel’s discussant, Dr. Ralph Carter, of Texas Christian University, commented on how well the papers came together to form a cohesive panel. He recognized the value of the papers framing his questions and comments in terms of prepping these papers for publication. Commenting on Eric Peterson’s research on the succession to Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani’s succession, Dr. Carter twice used the word fascinating.
For the students the experience of presenting their papers at an academic conference was rewarding and enriching. They received questions and critiques and learned a lot about the academic peer review process. Dr. Carter was so professional, he handed each student typed out comments. The second panel’s paper has already created some interest from a journal for a special issue. These opportunities for students occur because LUCAS helps students deep dive into issues and use course work, guided research, and training in specialized and computational methods to do so.
Dr. Rivera, Director of LUCAS and a visiting assistant professor at SSRI with a secondary appointment to Political Science, was especially proud to see his LUCAS students and those from his Public Policy course on Iranian Grand Strategy do so well. “It is amazing to watch these students represent Duke University and LUCAS with such professionalism. They were so well prepared, so poised, and so gracious in answering questions. It reinforces our mission to encourage undergraduate research, as these students are more than capable of taking on the big questions.”
LUCAS is the computational security studies arm of the Social Science Research Institute without whose support these events would not be possible. LUCAS is also the computational security studies arm of the Triangle Institute for Security Studies. This material presented at this conference is based upon work funded by, or in part by, the Office of the Secretary of Defense with additional support from the U.S. Army Research Laboratory, the U.S. Army Research Office under grant number W911NF-15-1-0291