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Creating Space for the


Scholars, Policymakers &

International A airs

Edited by Abraham F. Lowenthal and

Mariano E. Bertucci, Johns Hopkins

University Press, 2014, $29.95, 260 pages.




To paraphrase intellectual giant Hans

Morgenthau: the search for truth leaves the

scholar oblivious to power and the pursuit

of power leads the politician to step on the


e challenge of narrowing the gap

between scholars and practitioners has

long been noted, usually with the recogni-

tion that a greater ow of people and ideas

between the rewalls of the ivory tower

and the stovepipes of government could

produce rewards for everyone. It could

result in improved development, measure-

ment and evaluation of policies, as well as

more targeted and applicable research and

analysis. But we’re not there yet.

Policymakers are still constrained by

process, bureaucracy and politics.

ey can

view academic data as esoteric and narrow,

and shut the door to academic analysis.

Academics, for their part, face challenging

incentive structures. For example, selling

their ideas to government o cials does not

result in tenure, whereas publishing in a

prestigious academic journal might.

e authors attempt to explore that

gap, share their experiences and o er les-

sons learned. Based on a symposium they

organized in 2011 to increase the bonds

between policymakers and academics, edi-

tors AbrahamF. Lowenthal andMariano E.

Bertucci present a collection of readable,

re ective essays written by scholars and


Lowenthal is a distinguished profes-

sor emeritus at the University of Southern

California who has spent

his career working on Latin

America. Bertucci, a former

student of Lowenthal’s, is

a postdoctoral fellow at the

Center for Inter-American

Policy and Research at

Tulane University.

e book covers a broad

range of topics—from secu-

rity to development—with

most of the examples coming

fromLatin America. Con-

tributors include scholars such as Mitchell

Seligson, professor of political science at

Vanderbilt University, and Peter Andreas,

professor of political science at Brown

University, as well as practitioners such

as Rafael Fernández de Castro, former

foreign policy adviser to the president of

Mexico, and U.S. Career Ambassador and

Counselor of the Department of State Tom

Shannon. (Full disclosure: Ambassador

Shannon also happens to be my boss.)

e essays present many excellent

case studies based on the interaction or

integration of scholars and practitioners.

Examples include the design and evalu-

ation of Mexico’s cash transfer programs

that have incorporated economic theory

and resulted in widespread poverty allevia-

tion, the development and application of

United Nations economic sanctions, and

the politicization of debates about the U.S.-

led international war on drugs.

In his thoughtful essay, University of

British Columbia Professor Paul Evans

describes how during the 1980s and 1990s

an uptick in Canadian track-two diplo-

macy—the practice of involving everyday

citizens in informal discussions on topics

of policy import—led tomany societal


Canada became more involved in

resolving South China Sea claims and

expanded participation by academics

in other spheres, such as free

trade agreement discussions.

As a result, academics built

networks with each other and

became more connected to

government o cials.


engaged in new research

and, in some cases, younger

scholars altered the course of

their careers.

Evans also notes how the

scholar-practitioner concept

di ers in Asia. Because scholarly institu-

tions in Asia are often sponsored, sta ed

and administered by the state, the concept

of scholars as separate from the state does

not necessarily hold true there. Moreover,

Evans notes, measuring the impact of

scholarship on various types of govern-

ments ranging fromdemocratic to authori-

tarian is challenging. He contends that it is

di cult to compare and draw conclusions

about how receptive di erent governing

structures are to academic inputs.

e Counselor’s O ce, for one, has

found the ideas in this book of great

interest. Among other initiatives, we have

attempted to link to outside institutions

and bring in outside experts to interact

with Department of State leaders.


broader foreign policy community and

diplomats everywhere will no doubt also

nd the book useful.

e collaboration between scholar

and practitioner is an undertapped but

potentially powerful resource. By exhibit-

ing a degree of humility, and heeding some

of the lessons in this book, we can break

down the insularity of the two elds to very

bene cial e ect.


Joseph Bristol joined the Foreign Service in

2008 and has served in Beijing, Kabul and

Washington, D.C., where he served in the

Executive Secretariat. He is currently in the

O ce of the Counselor.