WG 1 held three working sessions at the Valletta Campus of the University of Malta on 26 January and 27 January 2017 during the ProSEPS meeting.
First priority: offering a grid to identify political scientists in Europe
Following the objectives described in the ProSEPS-COST MOU, participants exchanged views and discussed how to offer ‘a first grid of variables for the definition of a directory of European political scientists’. In an encompassing approach, political scientists are apprehended as individuals who perform teaching and/or research about politics and/or policies from a social and human science perspective. The strategy recommended by WG1 relies on the assumption that ProSEPS scholars should be inclusive rather than exclusive in identifying political scientists, at least as the first step of the research. Thus it was agreed that country experts would be in charge of the search for political scientists (country-by-country analysis). In doing so, they should use the following identifying criteria:
Those criteria are indicative and should be weighted depending on their relevance/applicability in each national context.
Eventually country experts will assess if an individual should be considered whether or not as a political scientist, provided that his/her choice is explained explicitly.
Political scientists should be looked for not only in political science departments but also in neighbouring structures, i.e. departments/faculties/schools/institutes of political studies, international relations, public administration, public policy, political theory, law, EU/European studies, area studies, geography, economy, sociology, psychology, management, communication, history or any other relevant structure.
Individuals might be tenured on non-tenured political scientists but should have a PhD – although in specific cases (if the other above mentioned criteria are fulfilled) lack of PhD should not exclude the given person from the cadastre. .
Country experts should check if any privacy concern is raised by their research.
These recommendations should be submitted to ProSEPS decisional bodies and discussed with other WGs.
It is important to note that the country representatives all agreed that on the basis of the above criteria political scientists could be easily identified in their respective countries.
While the most urgent task for WG1 was to propose a set of criteria that may be used by country experts to identify political scientists in Europe, discussions were also held to tackle other issues that WG1 will have to address (as listed in the MOU)
Views were exchanged regarding the institutionalisation process of political science in Europe. The importance of national contexts (not only the higher education and national research systems but also the political context because of the more or less recent democratic transitions and consolidations in Europe but also because of the rise of illiberal trends with political pressure on higher education institutions, especially in some central and eastern European cases) was stressed by all participants. The need to compare the institutionalization process of political science as compared to other disciplines (especially in social sciences and humanities) was underlined as ell.
Possible indicators of institutionalization were discussed, with a distinction between endogenous efforts (creation of national political science associations, journals, book series) and external recognition (for instance through departments, faculties, research centres, doctoral schools, academies, universities; autonomous capacity to define the curricula).
Other important issues were listed as to include:
These issues and problems might help us develop a framework of the institutionalisation patterns of political science exceeding mere national descriptions and responding to questions, like: is it convergence or divergence that we can witness; do general standards prevail or country /regional specificities can be observed; are fragmentation, specialisation or syntheses the decisive trends; and overall can we identify broadening or shrinking institutional and personnel context?