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Harvard’s Nye: Academia increasingly irrelevant to policy

The Harvard Kennedy School has a mission to try to marry the worlds of academia and policy practice. So it’s notable that former Harvard Kennedy School dean Joseph Nye takes to the oped pages of the Washington Post today to argue political science and international relations have become increasingly irrelevant to the policy sphere: Some ...

The Harvard Kennedy School has a mission to try to marry the worlds of academia and policy practice. So it's notable that former Harvard Kennedy School dean Joseph Nye takes to the oped pages of the Washington Post today to argue political science and international relations have become increasingly irrelevant to the policy sphere:

Some academics say that while the growing gap between theory and policy may have costs for policy, it has produced better social science theory, and that this is more important than whether such scholarship is relevant. ... But the danger is that academic theorizing will say more and more about less and less.

Worth watching whether this is Nye's parting warning shot against academic navel gazing before heading to Tokyo.

The Harvard Kennedy School has a mission to try to marry the worlds of academia and policy practice. So it’s notable that former Harvard Kennedy School dean Joseph Nye takes to the oped pages of the Washington Post today to argue political science and international relations have become increasingly irrelevant to the policy sphere:

Some academics say that while the growing gap between theory and policy may have costs for policy, it has produced better social science theory, and that this is more important than whether such scholarship is relevant. … But the danger is that academic theorizing will say more and more about less and less.

Worth watching whether this is Nye’s parting warning shot against academic navel gazing before heading to Tokyo.

UPDATE: FP‘s Dan Drezner responds: "Joe Nye is right! Well, mostly right….:

That said, just to throw some sand in Nye’s gears, I don’t accept that this is only the academy’s fault.  Even when IR scholars try to speak with one loud voice, the result is often a deafening silence in the policy world. 

As for individual scholars, the political barriers to government service by aspiring academics are pretty high at this point.  Academics have long paper trails that are easy to manipulate, and politicians are well aware of this Achilles Heel.  Exhibit A:  the Obama administration’s vetting process.  Exhibit B:  Harold H. Koh

Laura Rozen writes The Cable daily at ForeignPolicy.com.

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