“You can’t just mention [population] in passing…If you’re going to talk about it, [students] will probably be interested in it, and you have to give it a really serious treatment,” cautioned Jennifer Sciubba, Mellon Environmental Fellow and professor at Rhodes College, during a panel discussion on science and policy in the classroom at the 2010 International Studies Association Conference.
Drawing on her experience as a practitioner of population studies, both within the Beltway and in the classroom, Sciubba shared techniques for bridging the gaps that exist between the study of political science and issues of population and environment. “I don’t think there’s that much of a difference between policy makers and students in some ways. They want to know the solutions, and they want you to break it down for them,” she said.
Bringing demography into the classroom should not start with population, recommended Sciubba. Rather, population and environment should be thought of as elements that shape and facilitate understanding of each topic covered in International Relations theory, from issues of conflict, war, and cooperation, to economics and development.
“It’s possible,” she concluded, “to put these things in any course–they’re part of the discipline. If we go back to some of the roots of international relations, this is how people thought of it to begin with and it’s very interesting to get back to that.”
Jennifer Sciubba is the author of a forthcoming book on demography and security, The Future Faces of War: Population and National Security, Praeger International Security Press, 2010