Old Members’ Trust Graduate Travel Fund Report – Farsan Ghassim
Report from a virtual experience
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s premier Political Science conference – the Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association – took place online rather than in San Francisco, as originally planned. Supported by a grant from Univ’s Old Members’ Trust, I had the opportunity to present my paper “Public Opinion on Institutional Designs for the United Nations: An International Survey Experiment” (co-authored with Mathias Koenig-Archibugi and Luis Cabrera) on a panel that was full of leading and emerging scholars in my field.
In our paper we conducted the first major social-scientific study of international public opinion on the present design and potential reforms to the institutional architecture of the United Nations – a topic that has particular relevance this year, as reform discussions are underway in the wake of the UN’s 75th anniversary. In the experiment, we find widespread support among citizens of our survey countries – Argentina, China, India, Russia, Spain, and the United States – for increasing or maintaining the authority of the United Nations over member states and for making the UN more democratic, e.g. by introducing a second directly elected chamber next to the present UN General Assembly which is composed of national governmental representatives.
Despite the unusual setup of giving an online presentation, my co-authors and I were very pleased with the encouraging and constructive comments that we received from our discussant, Michael Tomz from Stanford University, and the other panel participants. We hope to build on the feedback at this conference in order to publish our article in a leading scientific journal soon. Once again, I am grateful for the support of Univ’s Old Members’ Trust for my participation at APSA 2020.