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The Scientific Study of International Processes (SSIP) is an approach aimed at teaching of international politics scientifically. Teaching scientifically means teaching students how to use evidence to support or disprove some particular logical argument or hypothesis that reaches some level of generalization about relationships between concepts. Closely related to simply asking what evidence there is, is teaching students to address the breadth, depth, and quality of that evidence. The scientific approach may also draw attention to the logic of arguments and policies. Are policies, positions, and the arguments behind them logical? Or is some policy or position based on assumptions that are not logically related, or only true if certain auxiliary assumptions hold true? Teaching methods for SSIP include comparative case studies, experiments and surveys, data sets, and game theory and simulation. Instructors also face several challenges when seeking to teach scientifically, and in particular when they try to make time to teach methodology as part of an international politics course. Some problems are relatively easily overcome just by focusing on effective teaching. Other are unique to SSIP and cannot be dealt with quite so easily. Among these are the need to appeal to a broad audience, and dealing with students' negative reactions to the term “science” and the constraint of finite time in a course.

Article

The scientific study of international processes (SSIP) has made substantial progress over the past twenty years, establishing itself as the mainstream research community in the field of international relations (IR) and attracting more and more attention from other disciplines. This was due to the convergence of several revolutions that have taken place in the field, including the data revolution, the formal modeling revolution, the methods revolution, the substantive revolution, and the epistemological revolution. In addition to the dramatic increase in the number of the community of scholars who use scientific logic, systematic methods, and empirical data to study IR, there was a significant improvement in the quality of research. This research has yielded important contributions to our understanding of international processes. Some of these contributions went far beyond the field; they have attracted the attention of policy makers as well as quite a few scholars from other disciplines. Some of the key findings that emerged from this research have become—correctly or incorrectly—a key component of the discourse of political leaders. Growing data availability, increased methodological sophistication, and greater scientific discipline within the profession have converged to open new research frontiers, but important challenges remain, such as the disconnect between theory and empirical tests that exists in many cases, and the almost exclusive reliance on the dyadic level of analysis. It is important to make our understanding of international processes translated into broader policy implications.