Tag Archives: Guest Post

Megan Schmidt on Interning at the International Coalition for the Responsibility to Protect

Draper student Megan Schmidt recently took an internship with the International Coalition for the Responsibility to Protect (ICRtoP) and has written about the experience for us.

As many students and recent graduates are finding out, internships are increasingly becoming the new entry level job. This can be frustrating for those of us who end up with an internship position that doesn’t warrant too much energy. Luckily for me, I have found an internship position that is both rewarding and is preparing me for my future employment endeavors. This position is with the International Coalition for the Responsibility to Protect (ICRtoP) as the Coalition’s Research Intern. I would highly recommend this position to anyone interested in human rights specifically relating to the field of mass atrocity crimes.

The Responsibility to Protect is an international norm established at the United Nations 2005 World Summit which calls on governments to protect their citizens from genocide, ethnic cleansing, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. In the event that a state cannot or does not aid its people, the international community is responsible to intervene through humanitarian means and, if necessary, coercive measures if collectively authorized by the UN Security Council.

At NYU I have focused my classes on human rights and international relations, so in searching for an internship I wanted to find a placement that allowed me to continue in this area of study. I was drawn to this internship because my specific area of interest and research is in human rights and genocide studies, making ICRtoP an ideal place to learn about issues and developments in these fields. I began interning with ICRtoP in September 2010. Working with the project requires focus and dedication as the position and the subject matter are substantial and intense. My work for the organization has included theoretical research on RtoP as well as focus on ongoing conflicts and crises.

What is also great about working with ICRtoP is that I have the opportunity to attend events and meetings (Security Council, General Assembly, etc.) at the UN. This requirement of the position is most exciting as I get to witness firsthand the actions and developments happening in this international forum.

ICRtoP is a project of the World Federalist Movement – Institute for Global Policy, which has several other projects relating to the field of human rights and the UN such as Together for a Better Peace, Reform the UN, and the Coalition for the International Criminal Court. I recommend that anyone interested in these areas visit the Institute’s website as internship positions are often available.

For more information on ICRtoP please visit the Coalition’s website at: http://www.responsibilitytoprotect.org

-Megan Schmidt

Draper Alumnus Scott Bankert on the Association of Graduate Liberal Studies Programs Conference, October 2010

Scott Bankert graduated from Draper in May 2010. He presented a paper entitled “Impossible Cities: Personal Accounts of Wonder in the Global Everyday” at the annual conference of the Association for Graduate Liberal Studies Programs (AGLSP) in Dallas in early October. The theme of the conference was “The Transformation of the 21st Century City.” Scott has shared some thoughts about his experience at the conference below.

Scott was also recently interviewed for in.ter.reg.num: check out his interview here.


The AGLSP conference in Dallas this month was absolutely incredible. What a wonderful group of smart and kind people. There were chemists, novelists, anthropologists, economists, and migration scholars, as well as medieval scholars and classicists. The inclusion of novelists and poets seemed to me a big draw for Draper students, as so many of them are writers as well as scholars. Much advice about the writer’s life- agents, balancing commitments, etc. -was discussed.

This year, they announced that there is a big push to create doctoral liberal studies programs – Georgetown now has one and UC Davis as well, with a few more schools planning to follow suit such as Stanford, OU and SMU. This is always something that has boggled me about the NYU program – that we have not expanded Draper it into a Ph.D. program.

The attendees graciously received my presentation – each presenter was given 30 minutes to present and up to 15 minutess of Q&A – now that’s the way to treat a scholar! There was no rivalry or trying to shoot anyone down – it was all very open and down to earth. Several other students/recent grads presented alongside top experts in their field. I was invited back next year and intend to return. The topic will be about water.

In the future, I’d make sure to always send the AGLSP conference info to all Draper students and also call for entries for their journal, Confluence – it’s a top notch journal that takes fiction as well as papers – reminded me a lot of Anamesa. This was my first conference and I cannot imagine being treated with more respect and admiration than by AGLSP.


MA Thesis Workshop Recap, Shanna Farrell

In addition to Scott Campbell’s response to Draper’s recent MA Thesis Workshop, we now have a post from Shanna Farrell, who also attended the event that evening. Shanna’s recap is below; let us know if you attended and would like to contribute your thoughts!


On Friday evening, March 12th, Draperites gathered for a thesis writing workshop given by Professors Daniel Thurs and Rebecca Colesworthy. Attendees discussed each of their thesis topics, which are in various stages of completion. After a brief overview of the workshop and a summary of each attendee’s topic of research, the floor opened for an informative Q&A session. Questions spanning the spectrum from general to specific were asked, which prompted the half running joke/half earnest response “ask your advisor”.

This led to the subject of choosing and working with an advisor, which seemed to be a pertinent issue for everyone present. Several important pieces of information were discussed. When a student approaches a potential advisor, the better the two know each other the more inclined a faculty member might be to accept the challenge. (It should be emphasized that faculty reserve the right to say no.) One way to make time with an advisor more efficient is for a student to present the advisor with as many writing samples as possible. Preliminary bibliographies, similar pieces or studies, and specific questions can also help an advisor help their advisee. Some Draperites raised concerns about the feasibility of having multiple advisors or advising committees. One response to this question was that some faculty members who have similar research interests as a student don’t necessarily require an official advisor/advisee relationship to offer help and insight. In fact, a faculty member might be more willing to assist if a student doesn’t need much more than some general guidance.

MA Thesis Workshop Recap, Scott Campbell

Since many students were unable to attend Draper’s most recent MA Thesis Workshop, we’ve asked a few attendees to share some of the tips and advice that they found most useful during the session. Scott Campbell’s write-up is below, and a few more students may contribute their thoughts on the workshop shortly. If you attended the workshop and would be willing to add to this discussion, please let us know!


Reflecting on the Master’s thesis workshop, I found several pieces of advice to be particularly useful. The first was when thinking about your topic to come up with three keywords that would describe the major focuses of your paper. These can serve as both frames for your thesis and as suggestions to guide your research, leading to sources that may not deal specifically with your topic, but do engage the keywords in a manner that would benefit your thesis. A second bit of advice was to try to find a source that makes a similar argument to the one you plan to make. This is not to copy the source or to be discouraged, but instead to serve as a guide to what is already out there and can help deepen your ideas. Also, if you can’t find a source, reflect on what this might say about your topic. Is it too broad or difficult to be dealt with effectively in 50 pages? Finally, the part that adds an extra layer for my thesis project is the human component. Remember that even if all you are doing is talking to another human being and using that person as a source for your thesis, then you likely need approval from the University Committee on Activities Involving Human Subjects and NYU’s Institutional Review Board. Not only will the certification and approval process take some time, but think about the impact it may have on your sources when you present them with a waiver to sign, and also the impact it may have on your thesis if at any time they decide to revoke their participation.

-Scott Campbell

As promised…Daniel Thurs’ guest post Part II

What is Good Scholarship?
Part II

Here I’d like to contribute something of my own, perhaps idiosyncratic, thinking about the nature of good scholarship (and I want to take special pains to emphasize that from here on out, everything you may take issue with is purely me). Chief among my scholarly touchstones is the notion of humility. I don’t mean a kind of obsequiousness that consistently favors engagement and fears criticism. Many scholars-in-training already tend to defer, understandably, to the intellectual giants of their fields. In those cases, I’d suggest a slightly more skeptical course. On the other hand, to move the metaphor back to land, those people whose words and behaviors provide the grist for scholarly mills are sometimes treated with a sort of disregard. In my own work, I’ve encountered too many historical actors—not the great intellects, but otherwise ordinary folks—who were as smart or smarter than I was, and knew more about what was going on around them to boot, to be comfortable with such a view. In approaching sources, I did bring an important set of tools, concepts, and questions they did not have, but our relationship worked best when I treated them as partners rather than resources to be exploited and when I kept open the ever-present possibility of being surprised by what they had to say.

One reason why I tend to value humility so highly, and possibly one reason why the question of what makes for good scholarship is so hard to answer in the abstract, is that scholarly endeavor takes place in a certain institutional context. Modern academia, whatever its substantial contribution to the world, is not a system that typically values or rewards being humble. Aside from the intellectual adventure and fulfillment it provides, the work of getting a Ph.D., of getting a job, of getting noticed often requires a kind of studied arrogance toward other scholars (who often have to be wrong in some measure for you to be right), toward sources (who sometimes become one-dimensional and conveniently easy to deconstruct), and toward the general public (which is occasionally either little more than the waiting and empty receptacle for scholarly knowledge or the passive “other” subject to scholarly analysis). Present-day expertise, rooted in and cultivated through the institutions of academia, is an important part of the world and can effect considerable change for the better. It also has a less fortunate side that can elevate experts over everyone else, in turn justifying their expertise. For me, at least, truly good scholarship is about keeping away from such currents.

I suspect, beyond the demands of particular disciplines and the institutions of academia, there’s one additional challenge to determining the nature of good scholarship, and that’s the magic word “scholarship.” As much as I’d like to believe it, to justify all those student loans I took out, I don’t think anyone requires a Ph.D. to either produce or appreciate good scholarship. That’s true whether you earned a BA five years ago or never went to college at all. The twin values of engagement and critical attitude are present in ordinary interactions at their best wherever they occur. What is required is a community of people dedicated to grappling with the world honestly and effectively. And that is what that Draper Program provides.

Perhaps that’s the ultimate meaning of humility for me—no one can do it alone. In that spirit, I should say that, while I’ve made passing reference to the collective Draperian wisdom, I have specific people to thank for the ideas above. So, humble thanks to Amber, Georgia, Larissa, Louis, Maia, Nina, Rebecca, Robert, and Robin.

And finally, I want to impart to you all, the most humble, most important, and most profound secret of good scholarship. In one word: scallops!