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International Studies Perspectives


A crucial dimension of bridging the gap between international affairs scholarship and policymaking is the generation of substantive, policy-relevant research programs. We describe the use of scenario analysis as a valuable experiential and problem-based technique for developing innovative research ideas in political science. We focus especially on the scholarly and pedagogical potential of scenarios for doctoral students by describing the structured use of scenarios at the annual New Era Foreign Policy Conference. The features of scenario analysis that commend its use to policymakers also make it well suited to helping political scientists generate policy-relevant research programs. Scenarios are plausible and textured stories that help imagine how the future political-economic world could be different from the past in a manner that highlights policy challenges. Scenario analysis can throw into sharp relief overlooked, yet pressing questions in international affairs that demand focused investigation. In turn, the search for answers can shape important research programs geared toward providing actionable clarity in understanding contemporary global issues and challenges.


scenario analysis, problem-based learning, research agendas, experiential learning, bridging the gap

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© The Authors 2015. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of International Studies Association. All rights reserved.


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