The social side of today went better than the academic. Our core seminar was little more than a tired re-hashing of entrenched positions, which didn’t really advance academic argument. It was really quite combattive. We are in the territory now where egos are defined and, frankly, not a great deal of really important work is getting done. Theory for its own sake is much less interesting than thought applied to practical problems.
After the seminar, I met a group of IR people for half priced drinks at the Duke of Cambridge, on Little Clarendon Street. Despite my haste to get to the Strategic Studies meeting, Emily furnished me with some kind of fruit cocktail concoctions. I hope her ambition to go dancing later was achieved.
The Strategic Studies election is a bit of a joke. While there are two candidates for President: Sheena Chestnut and Matt Pennycook, both from my program, I am the only candidate for Vice. I won’t need to go quail hunting with any potential donors. Nobody at all is running for Secretary, though Claire is submitting an application tomorrow. Having an exec dominated by members of the M.Phil in IR would be interesting.
The Strategic Studies presentation itself was on China and Taiwan, and was generally reflective of the conventional wisdom on the matter. Afterwards, I went to St. Cross and met with Claire and a number of her fun friends. There was even fencing involved – both within the confines of St. Cross and outside in Oxford’s rain-drenched streets. I quite enjoy the social atmosphere at St. Cross, as well as the particular characteristics of Claire’s friends there.
Now, I should turn my attention to my complete lack of wearable clothes and the bulk of reading on constructivism to be completed for next week. Tempted as I am to grab a plane ticket to Rome and a train ticket to Turin, I should probably stay the course here. Getting a bit ahead might even help disrupt the boom and bust cycle that has been characteristic of the program thus far. As I discussed with a classmate outside the Duke of Cambridge, it seems more like we are being tested over and over than we are actually being taught specific things.
I really need to take the initiative and start reading more about environmental politics and spending time at the Environmental Change Centre. That, and spending more time with St. Cross people.