Research looks at international human relations
Published: Monday, September 23, 2013
Updated: Monday, September 23, 2013 01:09
Dr. Jennifer Sterling-Folker, an accomplished professor and researcher, explores international phenomena through international relations (IR) theories, perspectives and isms. She specializes in realist constructivist theory, which deals with power balance, nation states, and the social construction of reality.
Sterling-Folker, a University of Connecticut and Alan T. Bennett honors professor of political science and co-editor of a journal of the British International Studies Association called the Review of International Studies, is particularly interested in comparative international relations theory which aims to compare how different theories such as realism, neoliberalism, functionalism and Marxism explain certain events, assumptions, disagreements, and influence policy makers.
From Sept. 11 - 13, 2013, Sterling-Folker was abroad in Aberystwyth at the University of Wales’ Department of International Politics for a conference hosted by Ken Booth and Toni Erskine. The conference served to update the book “International Relations Theory Today,” which was edited by Ken Booth and Steve Smith in the 1990s. The University of Wales founded the first international politics department in the world in 1919 and has one of the largest IR graduate schools. Sterling- Folker was one of 25 top international relations theorists invited to the conference to discuss the current state of IR theory and the direction it is heading in the future. Sterling- Folker presented a paper called “Theorizing IR in a Liberal World Order” to the conference attendees. Another UConn political science professor invited to attend the conference in Wales, Dr. Christine Sylvester, presented a paper titled “Will IR Be Quite as Abstract in the Future?”
In 2006, Sterling- Folker published a novel entitled “Making Sense of International Relations Theory,” in which she recruited 16 academic scholars from around the nation to write about the Kosovo bombings and ethnic cleansing of the late 1990s through the lens of their different theory perspectives. This was a piece of groundbreaking academic literature in a field that had never been presented before, a comprehensive analysis of a significant international phenomena and crisis explained by expert scholars in their respective theorist spheres. The novel was such a success in the IR and political world that this past July, Sterling-Folker published a second edition of the novel, focusing on the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003.
Sterling-Folker is currently working on a research project with a graduate student on human nature assumptions in international relations and how they have influenced U.S. social science research in the past and present with topics such as rationality vs. irrationality and self-interest vs. cooperation.
“My work is representative of the idea that there is more than one right way to look at international relations, there are many ways to cut the pie,” Sterlin-Folker said. “Each different theory has something new to bring to the table.”