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Author Topic: 2011-12 Controversy Ballot  (Read 4985 times)
stables
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« on: May 02, 2011, 02:38:39 AM »

Tonight the topic selection committee approved the following slate of controversies for community vote. We have communicated this to the CEDA Executive Secretary (Jeff Jarman) and the ballot will be sent to all CEDA members on Monday. Jeff will clarify all voting procedures and the duration of voting.

The USFG should increase protection of its critical infrastructure.
The USFG should ratify one of a series of treaties.
The USFG should expand corporate tax reform.
The USFG should reform financial institutions, including increasing regulation.
The USFG should increase offender reentry programs in US prisons.
The USFG should increase its foreign assistance to India.
The USFG should reduce support for neoliberal education programs.
The USFG should increase democracy assistance to the Middle East and North Africa.

Our slate included all of the papers except the failed states controversy. I will post a second note explaining the decision to not include failed states.

We want to thank all of the authors for their hard work.  This was a record year for the number and scope of papers and we are very appreciative of your hard work.

Please let me know if you have any questions.

Gordon
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Gordon Stables
Assistant Dean for Student Affairs
Director of Debate & Forensics
Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism
University of Southern California
stables
Administrator
Sr. Member
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Posts: 334


« Reply #1 on: May 02, 2011, 02:44:47 AM »

The committee did not include the failed states controversy and we felt that an accounting of that reasoning was essential. A healthy community will disagree, but it must be deliberative (i.e., provide reasons) even in those moments of disagreement.

The committee takes the decision of creating the ballot quite seriously and this result was determined by extensive review and debate. We looked to public discussion and a great deal of our own work. We found the academic rationale for this area to be quite compelling. There is no question that many of these countries have been overlooked or ignored in years of previous topic selection. We also found the desire to approach the topic from the overall perspective of US foreign policy, the whole of government approach, to be a fresh and intriguing proposal.

Our decision was produced by an overriding concern that there are too many questions that we (and the community) would have to answer in the second phase and not enough guidance in the initial paper. We felt this concern about both the countries and the mechanisms of the proposal.

We start from the assumption that all topics on the controversy ballot should be considered as topics that could become the topic. If each topic wins, we then consider what work is needed in the wording stage. We try to frame the controversy on the opening ballot as a means of narrowing the scope of these tasks. This narrowing is done both to make our task manageable and also to be consistent with the original paper. We have to ensure what we do is guided by the authors goals when writing the initial paper.

First, the possible countries. We certainly don't feel as though all of the final decisions about which countries to include and exclude should be in a controversy paper. At the same time, we feel it is important that the community vote for a controversy proposal and have a clear sense of either the countries or the criteria used to select countries. In this case we find much of the country discussion very interesting, but also lacking in any real consistency of criteria. As the discussion on the forums noted, these countries are not selected because of their status as failed states, indeed they are a collection of differently indexed failing states. We struggled to identify how these would fit together and provide a core approach to the topic. Some of the countries are already failing to maintain any of their own territory (Sudan), others are strong US allies with strong states but weak control over parts of their territory (Mexico, Pakistan) and even others are actively hostile to the US and currently maintaining a firm national border policy (North Korea).

We did spent some time trying to generate the combinations of these countries that would allow for some consistency. We felt both challenged by completing the task in time and also to maintain the integrity of what you proposed. For example, the idea of a Mexico and Paikistan topic would provide for some consistency in the types of countries and their relationship to the US, but this seems to ignore much of what you proposed. To repeat, we don't feel that a geographic continuity is essential, but a foreign policy topic without common borders should embrace some commonalities about the included countries. This list includes weak and strong states, states with close ties to the US and states actively hostile to the US, states that would like resist western institution building and states that would welcome those efforts. Educational and competitive concerns encourage us to find some patterns for these nations.

The country concerns are reinforced by concerns about the mechanism. If the country list was more cohesive there might have been less concern about the mechanisms. The discussion of Whole of Government policy is an interesting way to assess the totality of foreign policy. In some ways it seemed that WoG approaches are a new way to consider substantially changing (or aligning) US foreign policy to a specific nation. The idea of WoG is excellent, but it contains little clarification of how to align that policy. Consider the working resolution in the paper. It returns to question of aid or support and then positions that (increase in) support alongside the WoG approach. In other words, there would need to be some sense of what goals of US foreign policy need to be changed before the specific mechanism can be determined. When we considered how to even phrase the controversy we realized we were very uncomfortable with what commitment would be provided to the community.

The absence of comfort with the goal of US foreign policy highlights the country concerns. Goals such as institution building are clear in some of the 'most' failed states on the index, but institution building carries a very different context for Georgia, Pakistan or North Korea. I don't believe anyone would reduce this controversy to a generic 'increase foreign assistance' topic and so therefore the type of recipient and the type of aid must already be calibrated. In our brief time in the second phase, we are very concerned about the scope of these tasks. We are deeply worried about having to present topic options that would not be vetted by the controversy paper and only barely by the topic committee.

Taken together, we believe that if failed states were added to the ballot and voted for by the community, it would produce a stage of wording work that would force us to substantially depart from the initial paper and it would undermine the fidelity to the ideas gained community support.

It troubled all of us to not include this controversy, especially because so many talented students devoted so much to this project. As a community we should all applaud these outstanding students for their work. This is a difficult task for even very experienced coaches. All of our students should be inspired by the effort and the quality of the work.

We take the matter of framing the ballot very seriously and we wish to thank you for commitment. We hope this note helps to explain why we felt obligated to take such action. We believe there is tremendous value in researching these countries and to explore new mechanisms to engage these questions. As evidence of of this support I am personally willing to advise and assist with the redrafting of this proposal for the next topic cycle that includes foreign policy controversies.

Gordon
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Gordon Stables
Assistant Dean for Student Affairs
Director of Debate & Forensics
Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism
University of Southern California
stables
Administrator
Sr. Member
*****
Posts: 334


« Reply #2 on: May 15, 2011, 12:16:16 PM »

Just a reminder that all votes are due tonight.

The winning controversy will be announced tomorrow and I will provide an update from the topic committee.

Gordon
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Gordon Stables
Assistant Dean for Student Affairs
Director of Debate & Forensics
Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism
University of Southern California
jshane
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« Reply #3 on: May 16, 2011, 08:19:15 AM »

and...?
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