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International Seminar Series: State Department speaker, March 1

The Spring 2017 International Seminar Series will highlight “Peace and Conflict Resolution.” The seminar series will take place at noon on Wednesdays in the Bone Student Center throughout the semester. The talks are free and open to the public.


March 1
Thomas Hushek, acting assistant secretary from the Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations in the U.S. Department of State will speak in the Prairie Room. This presentation will be an overview of what the Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations does and issues in a variety of countries.

A career Foreign Service Officer, Hushek most recently served as deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Mission to the International Organizations in Vienna from 2013-2015. He also served as deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassies in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, (2006-08) and Kolonia, Micronesia (2002-04). He has had several assignments in or focused on Afghanistan, as the director for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement in Kabul (2012-2013), the senior civilian representative at the Herat Provincial Reconstruction Team and Regional Command West (2004-05), and as Afghan refugee coordinator in Islamabad and Kabul (1999-2002). Hushek’s early diplomatic postings included Khartoum and Moscow.

At the Department of State in Washington, D.C., Hushek has served as director for Europe, Central Asia, and the Americas in the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (2010-12) and director for Central Asia in the Bureau for South and Central Asian Affairs (2008-10). He also served as Afghanistan/Pakistan desk officer (1997-99). Other Washington, D.C., assignments include the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and the Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor.

Hushek has degrees from the University of Wisconsin and Columbia University.

Other scheduled speakers and topics include:

March 8: Associate Professor of Political Science Patrice McMahon from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, speaking on “The NGO Game: Nongovernmental Organizations in Postconflict Peacebuilding in the Balkans and Beyond.”

In most post-conflict countries, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) are everywhere, but their presence is misunderstood and their impact exaggerated. McMahon will talk about her forthcoming book with Cornell University Press, The NGO Game, in which she investigates the role and impact of the NGO boom on peacebuilding in Bosnia and Kosovo. Based on years of fieldwork and interviews, she argues that when international actors try to rebuild and reconstruct postconflict countries, they often rely on and look to NGOs, but for many in the Balkans, NGOs are not the ally or the aide in building peace, but are part of the problem.

McMahon received a Ph.D. from Columbia University. She is an associate professor of political science at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Her research is at the intersection of international security, conflict, and human rights. She is the author of Taming Ethnic Hatreds: Ethnic Cooperation and Transnational Networks in Eastern Europe and has been involved in four other book projects. Her research has appeared in Foreign Affairs, Political Science Quarterly, Human Rights Quarterly, Human Rights Review, Democratization, PS and Ethnopolitics, and has been supported by the American Council for Learned Societies (ACLS), the U.S. Department of State, the National Research Council, the National Council for East European and Eurasian Research (NCEER), the Soros Foundation, and the Carnegie Corporation of New York.

March 22: Executive Director Maria Santelli of the Center on Conscience and War in Washington, D.C., will present “The Values and Victories of Conscientious Objection.” Santelli will argue that the inevitability of violence and injustice is a myth–a myth that persists at the hands of media and government who choose to strengthen their own influence and harden their own power by sowing fear and division among our communities. She will examine the case study of conscientious objection to war–throughout history and today.

Santelli has served as executive director of the Center on Conscience & War since 2011. Previously, Santelli was coordinator of the Albuquerque Center for Peace and Justice. In that capacity, Santelli organized Another Side: Truth in Military Recruiting, bringing the voices and experiences of combat and other veterans to thousands of students across the state and in Indian Country. In 2008, Santelli became the founding director of the New Mexico GI Rights Hotline, providing direct services and resources to callers and serving as a leading voice statewide on issues affecting service members and veterans, including conscientious objection, military sexual violence, post-traumatic stress disorder, and truth in recruitment.

March 29: Carlos Parodi, professor of politics and government at Illinois State, will present “Transitional Justice and the Peace Process” in the Prairie Room.

How much justice can be achieved in a process of transition from war to peace, or from authoritarianism to democracy? Should societies demand full justice even if it is at the price of peace? Is it right for governments to grant amnesty for human rights violations in exchange for guarantees of peace and democracy? Has there been a full process of truth, justice, reparation, and reconciliation after the end of the Cold War? Transitional justice is a field of study and practice developed to answer these questions. This presentation will discuss the experiences of transitional justice in Latin America (Argentina, Chile, Guatemala, El Salvador, Peru, and more recently, Brazil and Colombia) and draw some lessons for the United States.

Parodi is a professor of politics and government at Illinois State. He teaches courses in international political economy, human rights, and Latin American politics. Since 2006, he has been responsible for organizing a one-month study abroad program in Peru. His most recent publications are about human rights and transitional justice in Latin America and Peru. He is currently working on a project about the impact Thomas Piketty’s book Capital in the 21st Century is having on Latin America.

April 5: Angela Puentes, third secretary at the Embassy of Colombia in Washington, D.C., will present “Colombia’s Historic Moment” in the Prairie Room.

April 12: Tim Wedig, interim director of the Center for Global Studies at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, will present “From Diplomats to Troops: Considering the Range of Conflict Prevention Options” in the Prairie Room.

April 19: Toril Rokseth, director of education and Adeline Cuvelier, educator at the Nobel Peace Center in Oslo, Norway, will give a talk titled “The Nobel Peace Prize: 100 Years of Ideas for a Better World.”

April 26: A panel discussion with current and past faculty coordinators of the ISU peace and conflict resolution studies minor, including Illinois State’s Joe Grabill, emeritus professor of history; Dawn Beichner, professor of criminal justice sciences, and Noha Shawki, associate professor of politics and government.

The series will continue through April 26. The talks are co-sponsored by the Office of International Studies, and the Department of Politics and Government. They are free and open to the public. For additional information, contact the Office of International Studies and Programs at (309) 438-5276.

This story will be updated with speakers and topics as they are confirmed. 


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