By Sooji Kim, IRIS PA, PhD Candidate in Development Studies
On Friday, September 28th, IRIS hosted its annual Fall Welcome Open House from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the University Club. There was an enthusiastic group of people present that day. Many had gathered for the event’s keynote presentation by Professor Ariel Ahram (Associate Professor of Government and International Affairs, Virginia Tech School of Public and International Affairs) on “Methods and Applications of Comparative Area Studies.” Students, staff and faculty from various disciplines attended and were provided with a wide array of information, handouts and sources on international studies and area studies from across campus.
In addition, there were many who came just to mingle and get to know those affiliated in some way with IRIS and its regional centers — and the University Club was serving fantastic food and drinks!
Professor Ahram’s talk on methods in comparative area studies covered topics such as the importance of theoretically grounded analytical research applied alongside regional knowledge and expertise. The lecture was followed by several interesting questions and comments from the floor on methods for intra-regional studies and cross-regional comparisons, and on the means by which comparative area studies can ensure particular regional historical specificities in the research process.
It was an invigorating time, and we hope the event was constructive in orienting students and faculty with IRIS’ support structures and opportunities as well.