"The exchange agreement with the PSA UK is a very important instrument to bring political scientists from different parts of the world closer together"

By Dirk Kotzé, University of South Africa

The conference of the PSA in Sheffield was my first experience of a national British conference. The conference theme of Civic Pride was most appropriate, because it deviated from the predictable political studies conference themes across the world. The combination of plenary and panel sessions and diversity of topics made it convenient for the attendants to identify in each time period a discussion in their field of interest. The sessions which were highly informative for me were the one on immigration by Professor Randall Hansen, the panel discussion on Political Science in the 21st century and the roundtable discussion on the forthcoming British election. Deliberative democracy received much attention at this conference, and the presentation by Professor John Dryzek had special significance for me. A panel on democratic innovations in the America focused on specific aspects of deliberation, and Professor John Gastil’s contribution expanded my exposure to the topic. Arguably the highlight of the conference was the after dinner speech by the Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow, on ‘reforming Parliament’. Such an authoritative presentation made it a unique experience for most of us who attended it.

It should also be mentioned that the conference provided an opportunity to meet colleagues in the PSA’s specialist groups working in areas similar to one’s own work. It was not only an opportunity to meet British political scientists but also others ranging from Egypt to South Korea. At the same time it provided an opportunity for visitors who are not close to the main European and American publishers to be updated with their latest publications and in some instances it even included discussions about possible book publication proposals.

My experience with this conference was that the exchange agreement with the PSA UK is a very important instrument to bring political scientists from different parts of the world closer together. The advantages of such an arrangement are countless and from the South African side we should certainly encourage both young and established political scientists to participate in it.