导师寄语 | Closing Words By Andrea Bourgogne

发表时间:2019-02-28 20:05

导师寄语 | Closing Words By Andrea Bourgogne

Andrea Bourgogne为IO-Talent 2019日内瓦国际组织主题调研冬令营学术导师,本文为Andrea对同学们的临别赠言。新年伊始,IO-Talent团队祝愿大家新春愉快,谨以此文与大家共勉!

You all came to Switzerland, and specifically to this beautiful city of Geneva in order to see for real some of these international institutions that you hear of in your studies and common life. I dont exactly know what expectations you had before visiting them. The most important thing is, beyond those expectations and in such a brief amount of time, what you managed to gather out of this field experience. Some of you might later have the chance to come back and even work there. Most of you probably wont, but that does not mean that the visits were of no use.

On the very contrary, I believe having had a concrete look at these institutions that somewhat govern us has benefited everyone. It allowed you to gain a first-hand, familiar experience, to have a feel of the international working life, of what it consists of, in all its benefits — but also failures. And this precisely is what you have been asked to do in your final work, whether it is a policy memo or a research paper. Remember this: seeing is not enough. Learning about how the international institutions is not enough. Extensive knowledge of facts and figures is not enough.

In a word, descriptive is not enough.What this camp, the organizers and tutors have wanted to transmit to you is the need to have, at your academic level, a capacity to reflect on issues in a critical and somewhat novel way. Critical does not mean that you must criticize what you know and point out what does not work. It means, very briefly: to go beyond the knowledge you already have or that you just gathered, and look for what is problematical. I dont mean that you should simply search for problems and, as I said, point them out. Ideally, we want you to construct new, and better-informed, better well thought out knowledge, out of what you deem as problematical. Then and only then will you start to build up a deeper understanding of how institutions and global issues work.

This leads me directly to some reiterated advices on how to write your final paper. I know that we talked about this already last week, but hearing about them once again wont hurt. That way, your stay in Geneva will be framed in those recommendations. When you work on something, you must like it in some way. You can be passioned by a subject, or curious about something you dont know about, or triggered by a gap, by something that does not seem to fit. With this interest in mind, and with the knowledge you have of the subject, you must find out one question. One question, not multiple ones. One question that reflects the problematical nature of the issue you write about. In order for this research question to be good, it must fit several conditions.

Take note of this, because it will follow you forever, and benefit you whether you decide to pursue your studies to a higher degree or to make the most of your skills in the work field. This one question is the most important part of your work. It defines its objectives as well as its boundaries. It must be narrow enough so your readers, executives or other academics, precisely identity what is it that you seek to convince them of. It must also be, evidently, answerable (for there is no particular interest in asking a question that you cant resolve at least to some extent) and even, for many topics, testable with empirical data. Your question must highlight some issue that was not thought of, or perhaps not exposed well enough, or perhaps not framed correctly, and contribute to renewing interest and knowledge of the subject.

So if your research question is the core of any work, the rest of it of course is crucial. I dont want to discuss for long on how to write the very content of your paper, in so much as we could see that you already have in mind some of the requirements. But what I cant insist on enough is the importance of arguments. You write something, alright, something that caught your attention and that you desire to share. We dont want you to sound smart or so knowledgeable.What you need is to convince.

You must convince of the significance of your work, convince that your question is a legitimate one, and go towards your conclusion with relevant and well-chosen arguments. As I said already, descriptive is not enough.
Dont show that you know, show that you found out something essential for a better understanding of your subject.In order to achieve this, you must base everything you say (and I insist on the everything) on arguments. Anargument can be thought of as a kind of proof, something that justifies your reasoning. If your demonstration is not well argument-based enough, nobody will buy what you try to show.

This ultimately is what I would like every and each of you to have in mind for the future. I hope that the visits and discussion sessions have been productive, even thoughI think that the latter could have been even more fruitful if they were a little more participation- dense. I know that making a presentation or a debate in a language that you dont necessarily master is not an easy task. It is even more true for writing an academic paper that must convince your audience and distinguish the relevance of your work. But, its fine. Making some mistakes when you speak and discuss is fine. Perfection (or almost so) will come with time and much practice. For the time being, you dont need to be perfect: you need to be persuasive, eloquent if possible, dynamic, able to gather the best arguments and stances out of a discussion, sum them up and reveal an original and well-considered (and argument based) thought. Some of you have really succeeded in doing this and receive my admiration.

A final word. Those advices and recommendations that I mentioned are general, and fit for every student, whatever the part of the world he or she comes from. They are the very conditions for your work to be acknowledged as admissible, dont forget this. You cant do without. But now, you are not coming from any part of the world. You are Chinese students coming from China, and because of this you are imbue with a different culture, different references, different systems of thought. These are valuable. It even is crucial for you to carry on the immense tradition of thinking that is the one of your country. China has always managed to elaborate sophisticated, creative perspectives and insights, inspired by the best influences of other civilizations.

China still can and actually should position herself as a leader capable of great knowledge making, fit for sharing with the world what understandings she produces, even more importantly in terms of global issues. This is now

the task that you leave Geneva with, even if only in a tiny part of your head.

Andrea Bourgogne




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