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Political Science Faculty Launch the Observatory on Contemporary Crises

by Katie Gortz on 08/15/2020

As scholars who study the idea of crisis from a theoretical and empirical perspective, SLU-Madrid’s political science faculty launched the Observatory on Contemporary Crises (OCC). This online platform keeps a critical eye on the world’s key international crises through the publication of analyses and insights written by both SLU and non-SLU experts, academics, observers and students.

The OCC was launched in September 2019 and, to date, has brought together more than 40 articles. Topics include pandemics and their impact on vulnerable countries, financial and leadership issues in the European Union, crises in Latin America and the Middle East, nuclear issues and geopolitical trends, among many others. The impact of COVID-19 on Latin America, for example, led to the publication of a series of articles that shed light on the region and offer predictions on how the crisis may continue to evolve. The OCC has also published political, social and legal analyses of the Black Lives Matter protests that followed the death of George Floyd.

Observatory on Contemporary Crisis

The Observatory on Contemporary Crises went live in September 2019 and, to date, has published dozens of articles focusing on topics such as pandemics and their global impact, geopolitical trends, fake news and more.

“One recent piece, 'BLM Protests: Can Trump Send in the Army?,' by SLU-St. Louis professor Morgan Hazelton, Ph.D., serves as a powerful reminder of the challenges we and the world face regarding racial justice (and police brutality),” commented Campus Director and Academic Dean, Dr. Paul Vita. “All of the articles posted on the OCC are relevant and the initiative has really taken off, thanks to the hard work of our faculty colleagues in political science as well as the Marcom staff.”

The OCC’s focus on contemporary crises complements another new political science initiative at SLU-Madrid: the launch in Fall 2020 of an M.A. in Political Science and Public Affairs with a concentration in International Relations and Crisis. This M.A. focuses on the key theoretical, political and social dimensions of the global governance of insecurity, and the emergence, management and consequences of crises today. M.A. students are encouraged to publish their research on the OCC. 

While the OCC is an initiative of the political science department, it is also open to cross-disciplinary collaboration across campus. Because each of SLU’s departments and academic programs offers a fresh perspective on the study of contemporary crises, the OCC capitalizes on the uniquely interdisciplinary profile of the Madrid Campus and publishes written material and interviews with colleagues from other departments.

“Three words summarize the spirit of the OCC: analysis, anticipation, and cooperation. The OCC is a tool that is meant to build bridges and to tear down the walls of incomprehension and ignorance.”

OCC Director Barah Mikaïl, Ph.D.

The OCC aspires to be a reference point for analyses of ongoing crises, a place where students, experts, and academics can access articles, interviews and debates.