• In celebration of 50 years of International Relations at Sussex, the Department of International Relations is hosting a conference, December 10-11, 2015
  • Includes a public lecture and six plenary roundtable discussions
  • Registration closes November 15, 2015
  • Registration is free but spaces are limited
  • Conference Poster


What’s the Point of IR? A conference convened in celebration of 50 years of International Relations at the University of Sussex

In celebration of 50 years of International Relations at Sussex, the Department of International Relations is convening a conference on the 10thand 11th of December 2015 entitled ‘What’s the Point of IR?’ The conference asks: ‘what is the distinctiveness, the value, and the purpose of IR today?’

Over the past fifty years IR has changed strikingly, shifting from a narrow focus on the relations between states to a much more wide-ranging and diffuse concern with a spectrum of inter-societal and global processes. Yet, IR faces challenges on at least three fronts: from other social sciences that have eroded IR’s onetime comparative advantage as the scholarly endeavour concerned with the ‘international’; internally, as IR has become home to multiple theoretical traditions and sub-fields that rub against its academic coherence; and practically, as IR faces ever-increasing demands for non-academic—and especially policy—relevance.

With the aim of reflecting on these three inter-linked challenges, the conference asks:

  • Is IR a coherent and singular discipline? Should this be its aim?
  • What distinctive analytical value does IR possess today? What, if anything, should its distinctive intellectual purchase be?
  • Where does IR’s practical importance and value lie? What should IR’s practical functions and purposes be?
  • Who and what is IR for? And whose interests should IR serve?

The conference brings together scholars and public intellectuals from within and beyond IR to debate these questions. Organised as a single conversation that unfolds over the course of two days, the conference includes a public lecture and six plenary roundtable discussions organised around a set of key questions. The objective is to foster a genuinely organic conversation that speaks to the core aims of the conference while allowing for diversity and enabling useful departures.

Speakers include:

Tarak Barkawi, LSE

Walden Bello, University of the Philippines

Ken Booth, Aberystwyth University

Catia Confortini, Wellesley College

Lawrence Freedman, King’s College, London

Lene Hansen, University of Copenhagen

Betsy Hartmann, Hampshire College

John M. Hobson, University of Sheffield

Patrick T. Jackson, American University

Beate Jahn, University of Sussex

Sam Knafo, University of Sussex

Stephanie Lawson, Macquarie University

  1. H. M. Ling, The New School

Craig Murphy, Wellesley College

Peter Newell, University of Sussex

Inderjeet Parmar, City University

Fabio Petito, University of Sussex

Adrienne Roberts, University of Manchester

Justin Rosenberg, University of Sussex

Laura Sjoberg, University of Florida

Jennifer Sterling-Folker, University of Connecticut

Teivo Teivainen, University of Helsinki

Diana Tussie, Flacso

Achin Vanaik, University of Delhi / TNI

Robert Vitalis, University of Pennsylvania

Catherine Weaver, University of Texas at Austin

Cynthia Weber, University of Sussex

Thomas G. Weiss, CUNY

Rorden Wilkinson, University of Sussex

Yongjin Zhang, University of Bristol


For more information and to register please go to:  Registration closes on the 15th of November. Attendance is free, but numbers are limited.