How time flies …

Somehow I went the whole month of September without posting an update.  Two presentations and two papers later (with another paper and presentation next week), it’s already mid-October!  It seems I’m always surprised at how quickly the semester passes.  So … how’s it going?

The Culture and Public Policy course is quite an interesting course.  We’ve had some great discussions so far and I’m looking forward to even more of them.  I’ve learned a lot from the readings we’ve covered in the first half of the semester.  Here are some of the books we’ve read up to this point:

  • American Exceptionalism by Seymour Martin Lipset  This book was written in 1996, but it is still applicable today.  It’s a fairly easy read and helps the reader understand what “American Exceptionalism” really means.  Dr. Lipset was one of the founding faculty members of George Mason’s School of Public Policy.
  • Mad As Hell by Scott Rassmussen and Douglas Schoen  I should have read the back of the book before reading the 300-ish pages of … um … “analysis” that makes up this book.  I struggled with this book because I really expected a pollster (Scott Rasmussen) to use more sound methods.
  • The Post-American World Release 2.0 by Fareed Zakaria  This is an enjoyable read.  If you’ve ever read any of Thomas Friedman’s works, the theme is familiar.  The world is changing and the gap between the United States and the rest of the world is narrowing.  It’s not an authoritative text by any means, but it helps the reader with cultural perspective.

I’m really enjoying the Globalization and IT course.  We’re approaching Information Technology (or Information Communication Technology as the term is used in most of the rest of the world) from a public policy perspective – a “geek course for non-geeks”.  The material has reenergized my interest in IT and policy.  I changed my statement of interest last semester to focus on nuclear arms control policy as that’s the direction I wanted to head with my studies.  I’m torn again – I’m really interested in both areas, but I’m beginning to think that the IT policy area would be more suited to dissertation research and I could then expand my research to include arms control policy after defending my dissertation.  I’ve spoken to my professor in this class about IT policy topics in pursuit of a dissertation topic and will be meeting with him to discuss this in more depth.  He also provided the names of two other faculty members I will be meeting with to discuss potential IT policy dissertation topics.  I’d like to have a general area of study narrowed down and perhaps even a good idea of who will be on my fields committee by the end of this semester.

The Transnational Security Issues course is also interesting.  It reminds me a lot of the coursework from the GMU Institute of Conflict Analysis and Resolution (now the School of Conflict Analysis and Resolution).  So far, we’ve covered corruption, safe havens, kleptocracies, money laundering, pirates, cyber crime, and terrorism.

As of this week, we’re officially halfway through the semester.  Before long, the semester will be over and it’ll be time to take the Comprehensive Qualifying Exam.  Stay tuned for updates!


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