Wednesday, May 16, 2012

NSF: An invitation for Jeff Flake

I'm one of the host co-chairs of the fifth annual Political Networks conference, being held next month in Boulder. Since this conference and the APSA section organizing it have received substantial support from NSF's Political Science program over the past five years, I thought it would make sense to invite Rep. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) to the conference. Rep. Flake, of course, recently authored an amendment to a House spending bill that would defund the Political Science program, and this bill recently passed the House. 

I know this is already beyond the House, but Flake currently seems to be the main purveyor of the argument that political science is unworthy of federal support. And in fairness, as Ezra Klein points out, political science is deserving of some criticism for using public money for our research and then hiding the results of that research behind paywalls and obscure jargon. So we invited Flake to the conference, in all sincerity and in the interests of transparency, so he could see what NSF funding has helped to produce. The text of our letter appears after the jump.

May 16, 2012

The Honorable Jeff Flake
U.S. House of Representatives
240 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515
Fax: (202) 226-4386

Dear Representative Flake,

We are writing to invite you to attend the Fifth Annual Conference on Political Networks, to be held June 13th-16th at the University of Colorado at Boulder. This conference is being sponsored jointly by the University of Colorado and the University of Denver.

In full candor, we are inviting you to this conference because the event itself, and the Political Networks section of the American Political Science Association, has been a beneficiary of the National Science Foundation's Political Science program for the past five years. It is our belief that the NSF funding for this project has been essential in promoting the important new subfield of network research. Funding has helped us to provide training for scholars, to allow scholars to share ideas and collaborate on research, and to help graduate students attend the conference. It has enabled the Political Networks section to grow from just a handful of scholars to more than 250 members in just a few years, and it has allowed this promising new research method to gain acceptance in the broader field of political science. Moreover, it has helped to bring together scholars from a wide range of schools -- some from well-endowed research universities and others from liberal arts colleges with no endowments at all.

While we are certainly proud of the work this section has accomplished and grateful for the role the NSF has played, we would like to invite your opinion on the matter. Some of the material can be quite technical, but we believe you'd find some of it quite useful and important in addressing issues of governance and public policy. You can learn more about this conference at the following website:

We'd be happy to waive any registration fees for you. We very much hope for your affirmative reply. Please do not hesitate to contact us with questions.


Seth Masket
University of Denver
Conference Co-Host
Anand Edward Sokhey
University of Colorado at Boulder
Conference Co-Host
Jennifer Victor
University of Pittsburgh
Conference Program Co-Chair
Alexander Montgomery
Reed College
Conference Program Co-Chair


Matt Glassman said...


I'm not sure you can legally waive the registration fees; or rather, I'm not sure that Congressman Flake can legally accept waived fees under House ethics rules.

With any luck, it will come to actually having to determine that!


Rob Rushing said...

You've accidentally left off the W—it's correctly written NSFW. Otherwise, your readers won't know what it's not safe for.

McClurg said...

If you do talk to his office, I recommend pointing them to our paper archive. The conference papers alone have been downloaded over three thousand times, often covering questions spanning how to make public policy program function better to the best way to disrupt terrorist networks. If he can't make it, maybe he'll look at the work the NSF has helped supported.