Report on the First Global International Studies Conference, Istanbul 2005
WISC is a new taste in the acronym soup of non-governmental international organisations which some 800 international scholars enjoyed in Istanbul at the First Global International Studies Conference which was held at the end of August 2005.
Led by John Groom, then Executive Secretary of WISC, Tom Volgy from ISA and Clare Dekker from ECPR between them provided much of the organisational backing, while the Programme Committee was led by Bob Kudrle (Minnesota), who was joined by Bertrand Badie (Sciences-Po, Paris), Diana Tussie (FLACSO, Buenos Aires) and Chung-in Moon (Yonsei, Seoul). The leader of the local organising team was Ilter Turan who is not only President of the Turkish Political Science Association but also brought all the resources of Bilgi University and his extensive network of contacts into play. These individuals and the support staff from ISA, ECPR and Bilgi embarked, successfully, on the long and arduous climb up a steep learning curve.
The key to a successful conference lay not only in the quality of the individuals and the high standard of the papers but also in that it had a global element in content, attitude and persons. In this it succeeded, at least partially, with contributions from Central Asia, China, Egypt, Libya and the Near East which are usually absent from International Studies meetings, as well as the ‘usual suspects' from the Americas, Europe, Japan and Korea. But there remained serious lacunae -- Africa and the Indian sub-continent. If the conference was partially successful in being global it was wholly successful in being local. The Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul addressed a plenary session and former President Demirel took part in a plenary roundtable with Yale Ferguson. Many Turkish academics presented papers and the rapid growth of international studies in both well-established and new, English-medium Turkish Universities, such as Bilgi, was striking. Indeed, the participants ranged from intellectual stalwarts such as James Rosenau to young scholars filled with the adrenalin of their first major international event as they gave their papers, networked and matched faces to the textbooks of their not so distant past.
It was fun too. Istanbul is a wonderful city and many participants and their partners took the opportunity to arrive early or stayed on to explore not only the city but the wonders of Turkey. Our Turkish hosts organised several receptions including one magical one overlooking the Bosphorus. A further highlight was the end of conference dinner cruise through the Bosphorus where the palaces were floodlit while we were able to enjoy another wonder of Turkey -- its cuisine.
Encouraged by the response and enthusiasm of both the organisers and the participants, the obvious question was, should we do it again? The WISC Committee met at the end of the Conference and decided to continue with the experiment. The WISC conferences are scheduled to take place every three years, and for 2008 the place and time have been chosen, namely to meet in Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia, one of the new member states of the European Union, from July 23-26 inclusive.