There's been a few seminars this week that I've been attending. On Monday our regular first year seminar concerned research that's going on in the Department regarding the establishment of core executives in Eastern European countries after transition. The emphasis was placed on identifying the independent variables, holding them constant and seeing what the outcome (dependent variable) was.
It was pointed out that in taking this approach the team had followed the 'Golden Rule' of choosing the independent variable as opposed to the dependent variable. This made for uncomfortable listening, as I had just submitted a thesis outline (that I spent all weekend writing) to my supervisor which was the complete opposite. Bugger. Not happy about that. I'm almost dreading my meeting with him next week...
Tuesday's Latin American seminar was on the development of the Brazilian economy between the 1940s and 1980s by one of the Economic History Department students, Nicholas Grinberg. 'm afraid I didn't follow a lot of it, partly because I didn't have time to read his paper, but also because of the highly technical nature and use of economic terms which I didn't follow. So I'm afraid I can't add anything useful to it. Sorry.
Finally, I've just come out of Mario Arriagada's presentation on spending by Catholic NGOs. This was interesting, with some quantitative work done concerning an Irish NGO's expenditure in Africa. Mario pointed out that apparently Catholic NGOs don't spend according to proportion of souls in a country, but rather for secular concerns, including whether their bishops have a strong role in the country and are active in political development (he was looking at Africa in particular). John Siedel, the convenor, raised some interesting questions, including whether it would make a difference if Jesuits run the spending show and whether Protestant NGOs operate in a different way to Catholic ones - i.e. in a more religious way, and whether the small denominations have a more market-oriented approach than the established Anglican and relatively monopolistic Catholic churches.