When: Wednesday, November 2nd, 2022 at 12 noon CDT
Where: in- person via livestream
MidWestOne Bank 102 S. Clinton St
Speaker: Dr. Peter Gross
Since 2000, the Kremlin has been waging a relentless information war against the U.S., NATO, the European Union, democracy, and liberal values. Russian disinformation and propaganda, disseminated to one extent or another on every continent, achieved hyper status as Vladimir Putin prepared to invade Ukraine. It continues in its varied, preposterous ways as the conflict endures. The presentation examines the nature, goals, and consequences of these ongoing struggles for the hearts and minds of audiences and the West’s late arrival on this bloodless, nonetheless perilous battlefield.
Peter Gross, Ph.D., is professor emeritus and former Director of the University of Tennessee’s School of Journalism and Electronic Media (2006-2019). Before his tenure at the UT, he held the Gaylord Family Endowed Chair (International Communication) at the University of Oklahoma, where he also served as Director of the Institute for Research and Training at the Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication. He is now an adjunct faculty member at the University of Iowa’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Gross is a non-resident Fellow at the Center for Media, Data and Society, the Central European University (Vienna, Austria), and Co-Editor of the Journal of Romanian Studies (2020-2023). He is a long-standing columnist for Transitions Online, a Czech-based journal concentrated on East and Central European politics, economics, society, culture, and media. Multilingual, his research focus is East and Central European societies, politics, media, and cultures. He carried out multiple assessment assignments for the U.S. Information Agency (U.S.I.A.)/U.S. Department of State and Voice of America in these regions. In 1996, Gross was a research fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Washington, D.C. He frequently lectured at the U.S. Department of State's National Foreign Affairs Training Center and served as consultant to the International Media Fund, The Freedom Forum, the U.S.I.A. and Voice of America among other governmental and non-governmental organizations. He also served as scientific advisor to the EU-sponsored "Press Freedom and Media Systems in Europe” project at the University of Salzburg, Austria, and was a board member of the International Center for Protest Research, Martin Luther University, Halle, Germany. Among his 12 authored and co-authored scholarly books, textbooks, and co-edited book collections are, Entangled Evolutions. Media and Democratization in Eastern Europe (2002) and Media Transformations in the Post-Communist World: Eastern Europe’s Tortured Path to Change (2013), which he co-edited with Dr. Karol Jakubowicz (Poland). His forthcoming book, Focusing on the Core. A Cultural Approach to Media Systems, will be released in 2023. In addition to his book chapters in edited volumes, his scholarly and journalistic articles are published in U.S. and European academic journals and general circulation publications, respectively.
When: Wednesday, October 26th, 2022 at 12 noon CDT
Where: In-person and via livestreaming
Speaker: Dr. David Cwiertny
In Collaboration with Johnson County UN Association
The University of Iowa recently launched a new MS degree program built around the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Sustainability is inherently interdisciplinary. The technical skills necessary for developing a more sustainable society draw from multiple disciplines including the natural and social sciences, engineering and beyond. Technical skills, however, are not sufficient and developing a more sustainable society will require additional skills including communication and cultural competency to translate training outcomes to communities and the public at large. As such, sustainability focused training programs cannot thrive within the traditional structure of academic silos. Rather, preparing the next generation of sustainability professionals requires a bold, interdisciplinary training approach that is not just technically rigorous, but also builds expertise in community engagement, cultural awareness, and communication with diverse stakeholders. The SDGs provide such a framework upon which to train tomorrow's sustainability leaders. This presentation will introduce the SDG MS program at the University of Iowa and talk more broadly about the skills and competencies needed to turn the SDGs into reality.
Dr. Cwiertny is the William D. Ashton Professor of Civil Engineering at the University of Iowa, as well as the Director, Center for Health Effects of Environmental Contamination; Director, Environmental Policy Research Program, Public Policy Center;
Researcher, Nanoscience and Nanotechnology Institute; Researcher, Environmental Health Sciences Research Center; and Faculty Research Engineer, IIHR--Hydroscience & Engineering. His special fields of knowledge include environmental chemistry, and waste and wastewater treatment and reuse. His research areas include Materials-based treatment strategies for water and wastewater, and Chemical transformation pathways for emerging contaminant classes in a natural aquatic systems. He has a Ph.D. in Environmental Engineering from Johns Hopkins University (2006), and a B.S.E. degree in Environmental Engineering Science from the University of California, Berkeley (2000).
When: Wednesday, October 19th, 2022 @ 12 noon CDT
Where: Online via Zoom
Speaker: Dr. Clayton Thyne
Coups d’état are dramatic events that can have major and lasting implications for states. Negative effects include destroying democracies, spurring repression, and inviting warfare. Coups may also have more positive effects like ending civil wars and providing opportunity for democratic governance to emerge. The recent spike in coups aligns with a burgeoning scholarly interest in these events. The purpose of this talk is twofold. First, the nature of coups will be discussed along with the scholarly literature that examines causes and consequences of coups. Second, original research will be presented that explores an overlooked aspect of coups: education. While the bulk of coup research focuses on elite actors, the original research presented in this talk will focus on one important aspect of the civilian population, expecting that coups will be unlikely in highly education populations. As such, this talk will be interesting to a wide variety of audiences, including students who have rarely thought about coups and scholars who study coups as a primary research interest.
Clayton Thyne is a Professor in the Political Science department at the University of Kentucky. He currently serves as the Department Chair, having previously held positions as Director of Graduate Studies and as the co-founder and Director of the Peace Studies certificate program. Dr. Thyne’s research currently focuses on domestic conflict/instability, coups d'état, regime types and democratization, and international education policy. His most recent work focuses on coups d'état, civil war onset, and civil war duration. His book, How International Relations Affect Civil Conflict: Cheap Signals, Costly Consequences, was published by Lexington Books in 2009. Other published work can be found in The Journal of Politics, British Journal of Political Science, Social Science Quarterly, International Studies Quarterly, The Journal of Conflict Resolution, Comparative Political Studies, The Journal of Peace Research, Foreign Policy Analysis, and Conflict Management and Peace Science. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Iowa (2007); M.A., University of Iowa (2004); M.Ed., University of Saint Thomas-Houston (2003); B.A., University of Nebraska-Kearney (2001).
When: Thursday, October 6, 2022 @ 12 noon CDT
Where: In-person: MidWestOne Bank 102 S. Clinton St., Iowa City, IA
Speaker: Zaza Muchemwa
In collaboration with The University of Iowa International Writing Program
Zaza Muchemwa, born, raised and making her artistic practice in Zimbabwe, looks at and shares the experiences of living in a country of constant transition, of being in fear and rising despite that fear, of holding onto hope amid despair and, what it means to stay alive in Zimbabwe today. She writes that there is a country in southern Africa which is known for always being in mainstream news for all the things that went wrong with young African nations shortly after gaining independence from colonial regimes. Chances are that one out of the ten times you have switched on a news channel in the past 3 decades you have come across the name Zimbabwe. You may have learned that the country is mineral rich, with a climate favorable to a rich agrarian economy, with a highly literate population and that this country, Zimbabwe, should be thriving. Yet misrule, corruption, poverty, dictatorship, decline, unemployment (the list goes on) have come to be associated with Zimbabwe. Equally you may have been astounded by the resilience of Zimbabweans. Rightly so, even when the country hit rock bottom several times, the citizens mysteriously found ways to bounce back from one catastrophe to another. The Art Scene has grown to, over the years, proffering thought provoking, delightful and visceral music, visual art, theatre, poetry, literature to global consumers. This with little to no support from the government, often within the confines of regulation censoring free expression. Ms. Muchemwa will address these issues during her presentation.
Zaza MUCHEMWA (poet, playwright, arts administrator; Zimbabwe) has had her poetry appear at PEN International and Badilisha Poetry X-change and included in the anthology Zimbabwe Poets for Human Rights. Author of the play The IVth Interrogation, she is also an award-winning theater director and producer. Her journalism appears in Index on Censorship Magazine, Povo Magazine and elsewhere. As a Fall Resident in the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa, she participates thanks to a grant from the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the US Department of State.
When: Thursday, September 29th, 2022 @ 7:30pm CDT
Where: E105 Adler Journalism Building, University of Iowa, and via livestreaming
Speakers: Dr. Cullen Hendrix
The war in Ukraine has sent prices for food and energy spiraling, plunging millions into hunger and threatening energy security across Europe and Asia. But did fuel prices play a role in precipitating the conflict in the first place? In his talk, Dr. Cullen Hendrix will discuss the roles of oil and gas exports and prices in emboldening leaders of petrostates - states that derive significant export and government revenue from oil and gas exports - to behave aggressively in the international arena. The talk will conclude with thoughts about how the global transition to renewable energy systems will shift the locus of geopolitical competition from oil and gas to the critical minerals that will fuel the energy transition - and what can be done to ensure sustainable energy security moving forward.
Cullen Hendrix is senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, nonresident senior research fellow at the Center for Climate & Security, and a specially appointed research professor with the Network for Education and Research on Peace and Sustainability (NERPS) at Hiroshima University. He is currently on leave from the Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver. He is the author of over 30+ peer-reviewed articles on the relationships between international markets, natural resources, and conflict, as well as the economic and security implications of climate change. Dr. Hendrix has authored reports published by or consulted for organizations including the Asian Development Bank, the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, the National Intelligence Council, Oxfam America, USAID, and the World Food Programme, among others. He was a contributing author to the 2022 IPCC report, for which he assessed the implications of climate change for threats to peace and human mobility.
When: Wednesday, September 20th @ 12pm
Where: Online via zoom
Speakers: Dr. Robert Asaadi
In an era when the Islamic Republic of Iran is vilified and poorly understood, Dr. Asaadi will talk about the possibility for political change in and reformation of the Islamic Republic. He will discuss the evolution of postrevolutionary Iran’s formal and informal institutions from 1979 to the present and explore the possibilities for change embedded in its constitutional order.
Robert Asaadi has been an Instructor in the Department of Political Science at Portland Community College in Portland, OR. He holds an M.A. and Ph.D. from the Department of Political Science at the University of Minnesota, and a B.S. in Political Science from the University of Iowa. His research and teaching interests include: international relations theory; international security; modern and contemporary Iranian politics; and U.S. Foreign Policy. His first book, Postrevolutionary Iran: The Leader, the People, and the Three Powers, was published with Rowman & Littlefield in April 2021 and was just released in paperback in September.
When: Wednesday, September 9th @ 12pm
Where: Online via zoom
Speakers: Dr. Oleg Timofeyev
Many have been surprised by Ukraine’s fierce, and effective, resistance to Russia’s invasion. What these observers missed was how strongly Ukrainians are attached to an independent national identity. That attachment is not new; a long cultural history sustains it. Dr. Oleg Timofeyev will examine this crucial background for understanding today’s Ukraine, including its Viking and Cossack roots, the role of Ukrainian epic songs as oral history, Ukrainian Jewish life, and how contemporary Ukrainian art reflects folk traditions.
Oleg Timofeyev is a musicologist, guitarist, composer, and documentary film director. The world authority on the Russian 7-string guitar tradition, he has recorded and released over twenty solo and ensemble albums to critical acclaim worldwide. The recipient of two IREX Fellowships, two Fulbright Research and Teaching Fellowships, he has won the coveted Noah Greenberg Award for his CDs “Music by Princesses at the Court of Catherine the Great.” His book, which will be the definitive work on the history of the Russian guitar tradition, is forthcoming with Cambridge Scholars in 2022. Dr. Timofeyev holds an M.A. in Early Music Performance from the University of Southern California, and a Ph.D. from Duke University. He has taught at universities and conservatoires in the US, Russia, and Ukraine, including the University of Iowa where he is an Adjunct Assistant Professor.
Welcoming and Supporting Refugees and Immigrants: Making the case for an intentionally Inclusive Iowa
When: Wednesday, September 7th @ 12pm
Where: Online via zoom
Speakers: Dr. Peter Gerlach, Kathryn Wittneben
The ICFRC has just released its report on the series we conducted earlier this year
focusing on refugees and immigrants in Iowa. As we write in the executive summary,
the ICFRC “recognizes that our state is at an inflection point, wherein collective
prosperity requires truly open, public, and engaged conversation about the many and
layered ways that our communities reorganize when new arrivals come, particularly in
these challenging and fast-paced times. For everyone to thrive, we must be intentional
in how we talk about our rapidly diversifying cities and towns to ensure that we all know
how to welcome and support refugees and immigrants as well as (re)create our
communities to be the kinds of places we all want to live for a long time to come.” To
begin our fall 2022 lineup of programs, project director and board member Dr. Peter
Gerlach and executive director Kathryn Wittneben will discuss the inspiration for the
series, its intended impact across the state, as well what it represents for the nature of
ICFRC programming going forward.
Dr. Peter Gerlach is Visiting Assistant Professor in the International Studies Program at the University of Iowa. He received his BA and MA degrees in English from Ripon College and the University of Northern Colorado, respectively. After serving in the US Peace Corps in Mongolia, he earned a PhD in Cultural Foundations of Education from Syracuse University where he conducted dissertation research on the lived experiences of international students at Grinnell College. His teaching areas include international studies, international education, refugee and immigrant studies, and community engaged learning. Dr. Gerlach serves on the International Studies Academic Advisory Board and the Fulbright Committee at The University of Iowa and on the Board of Directors at the Iowa City Foreign Relations Council (ICFRC), Global Ties Iowa, and theRefugee and Immigrant Association.
Kathryn Wittneben is Executive Director of the Iowa City Foreign Relations Council. She returned to the Iowa City area in the fall of 2020, after having served for four years as Vice President of Advancement at the University of the West of Scotland near Glasgow, Scotland. Previously she was Director of Development at the College of Public Health, University of Iowa Center for Advancement. She has taught International Politics and Economics at the University of Umea in Sweden, Washington State University and George Washington University in the U.S. She has worked as a Senior Economist on international economic and trade issues for two Congressional Committees (Banking, Small Business) in the U.S. House of Representatives; led an international policy institute at Middlebury College; and helped to develop two grantmaking foundations -- Eurasia Foundation which supported economic reform and democratization projects in the former Soviet
Union, and The Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund (U.S.) which addressed challenges facing marginalized youth. Kathryn spent most of the 1990s working on economic reform and private sector development projects in the former Soviet Union and has addressed the Parliament of Ukraine and the CSCE on these issues. She has a B.G.S. degree with majors in Political Science and Economics from The University of Iowa; and a M.A. in International Studies from The American University. She received the Scottish Women's Award for Services to
Education in 2018.
When: Wednesday, May 4th @ 12:00pm - 1:30pm
Where: Online via Zoom
Speakers: Cristina Ortiz, Caleb Knutson,Art Cullen, Cara McFerren
The ICFRC has hosted the series, Refugees and Immigrants in Iowa, as a catalyst for discussing issues that could lead to positive social change in our state, both for new residents, and those who have been here for years or even decades. We believe the experiences and the stories shared by refugees and immigrants can and should inform public policy–creating the kind of discussions that can provide valuable information for policymakers, and the general public. Stories of lived experiences, including those shared during the series, are most compelling when they echo what is already happening in communities across Iowa. In this final session of the 6-part series, the panel will discuss how perceptions and policies about diversity and inclusion at the local level have evolved, and the part refugees and immigrants have played in this evolution. These new residents have discovered new opportunities for personal and professional growth and they have provided a needed workforce to support economic development in many of these communities, as well as a vibrancy of culture that benefits the community and the state. This panel will showcase the efforts of business and community leaders in towns such as Columbus Junction, Marshalltown, Storm Lake, and West Liberty, who are striving to create a thriving inclusiveness for this new diversity, precipitated by the arrival of refugee and immigrant populations. They will share what has gone well in their respective towns, the difficulties they have overcome, and the challenges each continues to face. Panelists will also offer their views on how policymakers in Des Moines might look to Iowa's most diverse towns to help create new welcoming and inclusive policies to support the state’s growing reputation as a place refugees and immigrants seek to call home.
Cristina Ortiz is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of Minnesota Morris where she also contributes to the Latin American Area Studies and Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies programs. Her research interests began as an effort to understand her own heritage as the grandchild of Mexican-American migrant workers who settled in the Midwest. She is broadly interested in issues of rurality, belonging, ethnic identities, labor, and migration. Her research explores the everyday experiences of rural Midwesterners with a particular focus on communities with Latinx and immigrant residents.
Art Cullen is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, editor of The Storm Lake Times (a family-run weekly newspaper in small-town Iowa), and author of the new book, Storm Lake: A Chronicle of Change, Resilience, and Hope from a Heartland Newspaper. Art has made it his life’s work to ask the big questions, speak truth to power, and share the struggles and successes of his unique community of Storm Lake, Iowa (Census pop. 10,076). His new book is part cultural history, part memoir — it explores the themes of family, community, immigration and diversity, the meaning of home, and the Heartland’s turbulent history and promising progressive future. Drawing from the stories of one special small town on the “broken prairie,” and his family’s perspectives from their small-town newspaper business, Art hopes to inspire a broader sense of dialogue, renewal and understanding of rural places. In politically divisive times, when Americans from Red States and Blue States often feel estranged from each other, Art Cullen’s book attempts to show an optimistic way forward — that there is still abundant hope in the Heartland. This is a book that America needs now, written by a small-town newspaper editor who has earned journalism’s highest honor.
Caleb Knutson was born in Tegucigalpa (Honduras), and grew up in rural Iowa. Currently he is the Senior Planner for Mid-Iowa Planning Alliance. Caleb and his wife also operate their family’s startup coffee shop in Story City. At Iowa State University, he studied Criminology and Criminal Justice, as well as Community and Regional Planning. Presently Caleb serves on the Empower Rural Iowa Grow Task Force, Iowa Commission of Latino Affairs, the Iowa American Planning Association (APA) Board and the Iowa APA DEI Committee for which he is the Co-Chair. He resides in rural Hardin county with Anjuleah (Spouse), and their three children, three cats, one Chinese Dwarf hamster, one chocolate lab, and 0 Fish (RIP Lightning). When Caleb isn't working he enjoys coaching his children in various sports, introducing them to “new” music, and building Star Wars Lego sets. His motto comes from Kawhi Leonard: Board man gets paid.
Cara McFerren is an artist, business woman, wife, mother, elected official, and third generation Mexican-American. Born in the Midwest, she grew up in Davenport Iowa. In 1992, McFerren received her BFA from the College of Design at Iowa State University in Ames In 1997, she and her husband moved to West Liberty, thereby beginning their journey into small-town rural living. Presently, they have been very busy raising a son and operating their own business, Cardinal Sign & Graphics, a vinyl graphics company. In 2015, McFerren was the first Mexican-American woman to be elected to West Liberty’s city council. In 2019, she was elected for a second term. She is one of five council members, all at-large, and, as of 2021, a member of Iowa's first city council to have a majority of Latino members.