The English School Working Group is an offshoot of the move started by Barry Buzan, Richard Little and Ole Wæver early in 1999 to reconvene the English School of International Relations Theory. The decision to reconvene the English school followed a very successful panel on this topic held at the 1998 BISA Conference. The origins of the English school have been traced back to academics working in the Department of International Relations at the London School of Economics in the 1950s and 1960s and to the British Committee, a group of academics and practitioners who began meeting to discuss the development of IR theory in the late 1950s. Key figures include Hedley Bull, Herbert Butterfield, Adam Watson, Martin Wight and, more recently, John Vincent. The idea of an international society represents the central concept that is most closely associated with the school, but from an early stage, there was also a commitment to promoting normative theory and also to using a comparative historical approach to develop an understanding of how international societies, or states systems, have developed in the past.
The BISA Working Group aims to promote connections amongst academics already interested in the English school and to build new links with other disciplines and areas, particularly World History, International Law, International Political Economy, European Union studies and Historical Sociology. The Working Group has, at the moment, three subgroups with a specific interest in Diplomacy, the European Union and International Theory. The Working Group has gone from strength to strength since it was established and puts together a wide range of panels at each conference and also runs workshops on an ad hoc basis. New members are very welcome.
Professor Richard Little University of Bristol