Ben Denison

Author: Jennifer Fulton

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Ben Denison is working towards a doctorate in Political Science with concentrations in international relations and comparative politics. The Nanovic Institute gave him a Graduate Professional Development Grant  to present his solo authored paper entitled “Bosnian Disconnect: EU Conditionality Policy and The Failure of Reform in Bosnia and Herzegovina” at the 2015 Annual Meeting of the International Studies Association. While there, he acquired professional experience, made excellent contacts, and gained some interesting insights. He recently wrote to us about his experience.


Attending the 2015 Annual Meeting of the International Studies Association in New Orleans, LA was a fantastic experience that will greatly aid my current and future research projects, as well as aiding in my professional development for my future career.  I was extremely lucky that the Nanovic Graduate Professional Development grant allowed me to attend this conference and meet so many individuals that will help improve my career and research in the future.

On Wednesday, February 18th, I presented my paper “Bosnian Disconnect: EU Conditionality Policy and The Failure of Reform in Bosnia and Herzegovina” on a panel entitled The EU as a Foreign Policy Actor.  On the panel, I was joined by fellow scholars who focus on the European Union and its behavior in foreign territory.  This created a very interesting panel with a diverse range of viewpoints that gave the audience an interesting look at the decision making processes of the European Union and how their foreign policies can impact other states.  Additionally, we had great discussants on the panel, Diana Panke from the University of Freiburg and Tina Freyburg from the University of Warwick, who have published extensively on Europe.  Luckily, they used their expertise to give very insightful and helpful comments that will help reframe and push my paper to a more final state.  The most interesting part of their comments, however, was how she commented that she was not sure of some of the literature I was referencing that is canonical to certain US scholars.  This made me realize that there still needs to be greater bridges drawn between the scholarly communities in the US and in Europe. However, interacting and meeting the various scholars from Europe on my panel was a great first step in helping me to cross this divide.

Additionally, I attended many panels with very interesting papers being presented by scholars from across Europe. In particular, I attended a fascinating panel on ontological security, focusing mostly on Serbia.  After this panel I met with 2 scholars from Serbia and had a fruitful conversation about my research and my dissertation ideas.  Both provided very helpful comments on how to approach my research on the region, but perhaps even more helpfully, I was able to make new contacts for potential research in Belgrade and the region.  Having local contacts to draw upon when engaging in research abroad is a very useful tool to have, and I’m glad I was able to meet scholars who were willing to help me in this way.  Additionally, I met with many different scholars and students throughout the week, all of which were incredibly helpful and supportive with my research goals.  The connections will be invaluable to draw upon in the future but also were helpful in telling me that my current research is on the right track.

Overall, my time in New Orleans for the 2015 ISA Annual Meeting was extremely well spent presenting my work, meeting and networking with scholars and fellow students, and receiving great feedback on my research.  This was a fantastic opportunity and I am extremely glad I was able to attend the conference and engage with the community of scholars for a week.  Without the generous support of the Nanovic Institute, this opportunity would not have been possible.