Although instructors are increasingly adopting the practices of online engagement in the field of international studies, there are few discussions in the disciplinary literature of its methods, advantages and disadvantages. Online engagement can be considered as a type of class participation that takes place on the Internet. It refers to engagement between groups of students and an instructor, as well as engagement among students. Online engagement activities can be integrated into fully-online courses, or they may supplement in-class participation in traditional courses., There are five common methods that can be used to create online engagement among students: online discussion boards, class blogs, social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook, wikis, and online simulations. Each of these has its advantages and disadvantages. For each there are case studies in the literature, and best practices can be summarized. Online engagement should not be technology-driven; rather, it should be integrated with the course content and learning outcomes. Instructors should craft assignments in ways that encourage creative and critical thinking, and should take into account the particular problems that arise in the absence of face-to-face interaction. Online engagement activities should be chosen to mitigate some of the issues with traditional classroom activities, and/or develop novel skills that are relevant to the 21st-century economy. These activities should be accessible to all—including, but not restricted to, students with disabilities. Instructors and institutions should also be aware of ethical and legal issues, such as privacy, and the ownership of the data generated by online engagement activities by users.
A gender disparity in publishing hinders the ability of women to advance their careers in academia. A review of the literature shows that there is little published research on the status of women in international studies. Women’s access to, and progress in, the field of international studies has also been slower than many have thought. Feminist approaches to international relations emerged later compared to other subfields of political science, at around the end of the Cold War. Data suggests that there has not been substantial growth in the proportion of women in international studies since the mid-1990s: the data of Tétreault et al. (1997) reported 31.2 percent women for 1994 and Breuning et al. (2005) calculated that there were 31.8 percent women in the International Studies Association in 2004. With each successive rank on the academic career ladder, the percentage of women becomes smaller. In 2006, women accounted for 36 percent of the assistant professors in political science, but only 28 percent of the associate professors and just 17 percent of full professors. Some women—especially those engaged with the research communities on women and/or gender in international studies—have found high-quality outlets in journals such as the International Feminist Journal of Politics, Politics and Gender, and the Journal of Women, Politics, and Policy. However, women whose work does not focus on those research communities are unlikely to benefit from the existence of these journals.
Mary N. Hampton and Kathleen A. Mahoney-Norris
One aspect of women’s professional experience in the field of international studies is that of teaching. Women’s experience in the gendered classroom has been shaped by three general factors: their identity, their interests, and the institutions in which they work. Major dimensions of identity can be grouped into: identity as reputation; identity as race and sex; and identity as role models and mentors. Meanwhile, women’s teaching is clearly affected by their scholarly interests, which impact on both the subjects they choose to teach and their pedagogical approaches. While it would not be surprising to find that women teachers tend to teach more about women and feminism, a major survey of International Relations (IR) faculty in the United States found other significant differences between women and men in the classroom, often linked to women’s differing research interests. Women’s teaching is also impacted by the institutional environment in which they work. Surveys and studies across the academic spectrum confirm the importance not only of gender equity at institutions, but also the presence of an institutional climate, or culture, that is friendly to women faculty. Major elements that affect the institutional environment include the number of faculty women (including senior women); the type of institution (its focus on research or teaching); and the ability to offer feminist and gender courses, and related pedagogies.