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Behind the Scenes: Patterson Reading List

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This year’s Patterson reading list has been released:

What do policymakers have to read in order to be “informed” on international affairs — or just to be thought of as informed? The question, which Daniel Drezner posed yesterday, is more than just a theoretical exercise, as every summer the Patterson School assigns a list of seven or eight books on international affairs to its new and returning students. Summer reading lists are not uncommon in academia, in both graduate and undergraduate programs. Many universities assign one or more books to give faculty and new students a common intellectual foundation. The Patterson list has a twofold purpose. The first is to familiarize students with many of the most important issues in international affairs. The second is to ground students in the most important and relevant recent books on international politics. Thus, there is an effort to provide both objective and subjective expertise: what’s happening in international affairs as well as what the most influential observers are saying about what’s happening in international affairs. As would be expected, there can be some tension between these two objectives, as on the rare occasions when what the most influential people are saying makes little sense.

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