It was at the 8th World Congress, held in Munich in 1970, that IPSA decided to institutionalize research activities in political science throughout the world. It did so by officially setting up Research Committees (RC). This move may be regarded as a timely recognition of the need, but also the opportunity for political scientists working in particular sub-fields of the discipline, to associate with colleagues from their own and, from other continents, in the pursuit of their research. Between 1970 and 1976, 14 RCs were established, signaling that IPSA had indeed responded to a growing demand among its members. Between 1976 and 1999, a large number of research groups were established; many of them subsequently moved up to RC status following the 1999 Executive Committee decision. At present, IPSA has recognized 50 RCs. Between World Congresses, the RCs – largely as a result of the rapid growth in both their numbers and in the size of their individual memberships – contribute more than any other body to the activities and achievements of IPSA.
In the IPSA statutes, the objectives of RCs are spelled out as follows:
- Develop research in Political Science, especially work based on international cooperation;
- Organize and maintain personal contacts among political scientists with common interests;
- Disseminate information and publish scholarly research;
- Provide a framework between individuals and organizations concerned with teaching and research in political and other social sciences.
Each committee is cross-national in membership and its affairs are managed, subject to general IPSA guidelines, by an executive board consisting of IPSA members. Each RC is required to organize at least one meeting between World Congresses, and also needs to organize a minimum of two panels at each World Congress. One must be an independently organized panel. The second may be a joint session, co-organized with other RCs or sub-sections of national political science associations. Possible further panels are free of rules.
Membership of RCs is open to all individual members of IPSA and to all members of national associations affiliated to IPSA as collective members. Individual members of IPSA may ask to be put in touch with particular RCs by indicating so while filling their IPSA membership form. All may also join by contacting the chairs of the committees in question (see the complete list).
RC Liaison Representative
To help RCs interact, and to improve their role in allowing them to be heard in the overall IPSA context, a special Executive sub-committee known as the Committee on Research and Training (CRT) monitoring the activities of RCs was set up in 1979, and the office of Research Committees Liaison Representative was created in 2000. Michael Stein was the first RC Liaison Representative for two terms (2000-2006). Rainer Eisfeld (University of Osnabrueck, Germany) was the Representative the next two terms (2006-2012), followed by Christ’l De Landtsheer (University of Antwerp, Belgium) (2012-2016), Christian Haerpfer (University of Vienna, Austria) (2016-2018) and Domagoj Bebić (University of Zagreb, Croatia) (2018-2021). The present RC Liaison Representative, elected at the 2021 IPSA Virtual World Congress, is Timofey Agarin (Queens University Belfast, Ireland).
Further information on IPSA RCs may also be obtained from the current RC Liaison Representative: Dr. Timofey Agarin (firstname.lastname@example.org).