Call for Contributors on Signature Pedagogies in International Relations

We are seeking contributors for an open access edited volume, published with E-International Relations that will build on recent Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) research to showcase a range of International Relations (IR) teaching and learning frameworks. A critical contribution arising from SoTL has been that effective teaching varies across academic disciplines and departments. Of course, teaching strategies travel across institutions of higher education and are shared throughout the academy; as all educators need to lesson plan, present relevant content in a clearly structured and engaging manner, while including students actively in the learning process. Apart from the confluence of relevant disciplinary content, the pedagogical approach and instructional repertoire, as well as the program objectives in which a course is couched; an effective instructor will draw on common teaching strategies shared across the discipline while bringing a unique style of instruction to the discipline.


This edited volume takes as its starting point that IR is a practical form of education. At the most basic level, and irrespective of theoretical persuasion, IR is animated by the question of “how we should act?” (Reus-Smit & Snidal, 2008). Yet, an IR education is strictly speaking neither professional or vocational in orientation but introduces students to different theoretical and methodological perspectives with the intent to illuminate global issues that demand action (e.g. promoting peaceful coexistence between nations or addressing transboundary challenges such as climate change). By beginning to formulate their own IR signature pedagogy contributors are asked to engage in self-reflection through exploring the following questions:

  • What concrete and practical acts of teaching and learning IR do we employ?
  • What implicit and explicit assumptions do we impart to students about the world of politics?
  • What values and beliefs about professional attitudes and dispositions do we foster and in preparing students for a wide range of possible careers?

Leading on from this, this edited volume invites contributors to explore and share their Signature Pedagogies (SPs) relevant to the study and practice of International Relations. Authors detail how pedagogical practices and their underlying assumptions influence how we teach and impart knowledge. This collection more broadly intends to present a wide range of active learning strategies and offer critical reflections on the use of case studies and simulations in particular. By sharing teaching techniques, the contributors provide IR educators, students, and practitioners’ pedagogical insights and practical ways for developing their own approaches to teaching and learning about the world of politics.


Lee S. Shulman, emeritus professor at the Stanford Graduate School of Education, first proposed the conceptual framework for developing signature pedagogies. He advanced that education, irrespective of discipline, constitutes professional preparation and that signature pedagogies can help reveal the methods of instruction common in an academic discipline. SPs are, according to Shulman, pervasive and cut across individual courses and institutions. SP’s central function is to build habits of mind in students and lead them to act and think like experts and professionals. SPs, in other words, socializes students into academic disciplines and as stepping-stones for their careers. Signature pedagogies matter precisely because they “implicitly define what counts as knowledge in a field and how things become known. They define how knowledge is analyzed, criticized, accepted or discarded. They define the functions of expertise in a field, the locus of authority, and the privileges of rank and standing” (Shulman, 2005). In other words, SPs are less concerned with what content we teach but how we teach and impart knowledge. They, in essence, are types of teaching that organize the fundamental ways of preparing future practitioners and are used by educators to transfer skills of how to think, to perform and to act.

Although SPs, as the foundation of pedagogical content knowledge, remain discipline specific they, as Shulman (2005) noted, share three common dimensions: First, they have a surface structure which entails the concrete acts of teaching and learning. Surface structure involves the practical and operational parts of teaching in a discipline, how lessons are planned and organized and how teaching and learning praxis are enacted (e.g. lectures, seminars, case studies and simulations, tests, exams). Second, they are grounded in a deep structure of assumptions about how best to impart a canon of knowledge (e.g. Socratic method, applied and participatory learning). Third, they have an implicit structure, which relates to the moral values and beliefs about professional attitudes, conduct and disposition. Implicit structures include the normative and moral aspects of teaching and learning specific to a discipline, including ontological beliefs, ethical values, methodological and pragmatic attitudes (e.g. speaking truth to power, reporting facts, parsimonious theorizing, the nature of objectivity, which actors count, the connection between the “is” and “ought” in IR).

Finally, signature pedagogies also share a set of common temporal features. They embody and demarcate teaching frameworks that are pervasive and routinized. They, fully or in part, carry over generations of educators. Routines, of course, are not without problems when stagnant and lacking innovation; yet remain useful because they enable a focus on complex subject matters, which, in turn, develop habits of mind around various affective, cognitive and psychomotor learning. SPs also involve capturing and measuring student performance; while emphasizing their role as visible, active and accountable learners. SPs are, in the end, pedagogies of uncertainty; rendering the classroom a space that may be unpredictable and surprising. This latter aspect raises the emotional stakes for both the instructor and learner, leading to the need for teachers to take risks, foster curiosity while decreasing anxiety and with the goal to enhance learning outcomes.

Submission procedure

We welcome abstracts of around 350 to 500 words by June 15, 2020 via this form.

You may address any questions on your submission to the editor via email to

Please include a brief biography, contact information and a link to your academic webpage on the form.
Your abstract should clearly explain the mission and concerns of the proposed chapter including:

  • preliminary responses to the questions raised in the call for submissions,
  • outline timely and relevant examples of an IR signature pedagogy esp. through the use of case studies and/or simulations (e.g. outlines of lesson plans, descriptions of active learning activities, reflections of teaching praxis), and
  • challenge readers to reflect on their own teaching and learning praxis.

The editor will determine the suitability of your submission. If accepted, chapter manuscripts (3000 to 4000 words) will be due September 30, 2020. Acceptance decisions will be made by the editor within four weeks after the submission deadline. Following submission, chapters will be subjected to peer review, and an internal editorial process to ensure consistency of quality and tone of the overall volume.


Shulman, L. S. (2005). Signature pedagogies in the professions. Daedalus, 134(3), 52-59.

Reus-Smit, Christian, and Duncan Snidal, (2008) eds. The Oxford Handbook of International Relations. Oxford University Press.

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