Dr. Mislan and I met on December 14 for approximately 30 minutes. Our discussion focused on my research design and how it evolved through the various methodological modules. Prof. Mislan was interested in my question, and I thought the best use of the meeting would be for him to point out anywhere where he thought my research design could be strengthened as I put finishing touches on the final narrative paper. After hearing the logic behind my case selection, Prof. Mislan suggested that I need to account for the fact that the government of Ukraine had been somewhat more liberal than that of Belarus since the fall of the Soviet Union, and that they each had slightly different trajectories of democratization leading up to the color revolutions. While he noted that no two cases can be perfectly comparable, I will make effort to reconcile that prior difference in liberalism as I work on my research next semester. To that end, it is a good idea for me to read about those trajectories of democratization — that is, about the government and politics of Ukraine and Belarus — between 206 and 306.
I met with Prof. Mislan on September 7 for about 30 minutes. After meeting each other personally, we discussed my academic history at AU, my future academic plans, and how they relate to my research project. The first specific item we talked about was Reinhold Niebuhr’s book The Irony of American History, which Prof. Mislan suggested I read over the summer. I shared my opinion that the book is principally an argument against ideology in foreign policymaking. Niebuhr, writing during the Cold War, contended that both the Soviet Union’s communist ideology and America’s liberal ideology could distort their respective foreign policies if emphasized over factual nuances. The largest concern I shared with Prof. Mislan was that my topic, as of yet, has not been focused into a single puzzle or question. Prof. Mislan told me that there will always be a worthy, manageable research question in a rich thematic area. Accordingly, my next few steps in the process should be focused on finding a puzzle that I can get my question out of. Along with the research related readings from class, I think the best way to go about that would be to read academic literature on democratization, including in the Journal of Democracy.