Category: International

2014 Lafayette Debates


Debate-Amy-EilidhOur students continue to succeed at the highest levels of debate in the United States, and distinguish themselves internationally:

Two University of Georgia students will attend the 2014 Lafayette Debates hosted by George Washington University and the French government April 11-13 in Washington, D.C.

Eilidh Geddes, a junior majoring in economics and math from Dunwoody, and Amy Feinberg, a junior studying public relations and international affairs from Canton, will represent UGA at the competition. Georgia Debate Union director and UGA professor Edward Panetta will join the students as coach.

"This is an opportunity for UGA students to debate important international political issues with a number of strong national and international debate programs," Panetta said.


The Lafayette Debates aspire to promote international civil society by engaging future leaders on timely topics of mutual interest to the U.S. and France. The topic selected for this year's debate addresses the impact of the ongoing process of globalization on culture and cultural industries. In exploration of this topic, students will research and debate the goals and objectives of the seminal international agreement on cultural preservation, the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions.

Emphasis added. This is an important topic, and not just for debate purposes. But the discussion needs to begin somewhere, so kudos to UNESCO for their efforts as an international cultural force. And when we get very intelligent people like Geddes and Feinberg thinking about these issues, good things can happen.

Franklin Visiting Scholar: Jennifer Fluri


fluri exteriorThe Franklin College Office of Inclusion and Diversity Leadership brings to campus visiting feminist political geographer Jennifer Fluri from Dartmouth to give an important talk on gender, security and violence in south and southwest Asia:

Fluri, an associate professor of geography and chair of the women's and gender studies program at Dartmouth College, will discuss "The Beautiful ‘Other:' A Critical Examination of ‘Western' Representations of Afghan Corporeal Modernity."


Fluri's research focuses on the geography, politics and economics of gender, security and violence in conflict and post-conflict societies. Her lecture will look at the role of the female body, gender and the Western ideal of beauty during and after the U.S. intervention in Afghanistan. Fluri examines how the female body is used to reconstruct new forms of political meaning, social value and economic opportunities in post-conflict Afghanistan.

"Gender, security and violence are tightly linked in post-conflict societies, such as those in southwest Asia," said Amy Trauger, an assistant professor of geography and Fluri's host during her visit. "International aid, popular representations of Afghan women and capitalism work together to create a post-conflict nationalism that may not empower the most vulnerable populations. Dr. Fluri will share some new insights from her research in these areas."

March 17 at 3:30 p.m. in Room 214 of the Zell B. Miller Learning Center. Free, open to the public and not to be missed.

Goddard Memorial Trophy


Telescope-KeplerSpacecraftThe Franklin College has a special relationship with NASA's Kepler Mission in the person of alumnus and Kepler project manager, Roger Hunter. And so we are especially proud that Hunter and the Kepler Mission will receive the Robert H. Goddard Memorial Trophy from the National Space Club in a ceremony in Washington, D.C., on March 7:

The Kepler Team will receive the Club’s preeminent award, the Dr. Robert H. Goddard Memorial Trophy. Kepler has revolutionized exoplanet science and stellar astrophysics by expanding the galactic census of exoplanet candidates and fundamentally altering our understanding of our place in the galaxy. This honor is afforded Kepler in recognition of their significant contribution to U.S. leadership in the field of rocketry and astronautics.

Hunter is a great supporter of UGA and Franklin College and we are equally enthusiastic about his work with the space program. Our warm congratulations on this great honor.

Image: Artist's rendering of the Kepler telescope, vis Wikimedia Commons.

Guo, Barry, Global Georgia Initiative


The Willson Center for Humanities and Arts continues its stellar role of bringing distinguished guests to campus. This week offers terrific examples, beginning today with Irish author Kevin Barry:

Barry, author of the critically acclaimed 2011 novel "City of Bohane," will give a reading Feb. 24 at 7 p.m. at Ciné, 234 W. Hancock Ave. The event is hosted by the Jane and Harry Willson Center for Humanities and Arts in partnership with the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences department of English, and British and Irish Studies at UGA.

In addition to "City of Bohane," Barry has published two short story collections: "There Are Little Kingdoms" (2007) and "Dark Lies the Island" (2012). He won the 2013 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award for "City of Bohane" and the 2007 Rooney Prize for Irish Literature for "There Are Little Kingdoms." Barry has also won the European Union Prize for Literature and the Authors' Club Best First Novel Award, and was shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award.

Then for events on Thursdy and Friday, we're especialy looking forward to the first UGA visit by author and filmmaker Xiaolu Guo:

Guo will visit UGA Feb. 27–28 to present a screening and discussion of her film, UFO in Her Eyes, as well as a public lecture and conversation about her writing and films. The events are part of the 2014 Global Georgia Initiative, a program of the Jane and Harry Willson Center for Humanities and Arts.

The screening of the 2011 film will take place Feb. 27 at 7 p.m. at Ciné, 234 W. Hancock Ave. After the film, Guo will participate in a discussion with Antje Ascheid, an associate professor in the theatre and film studies department and the Willson Center’s associate academic director for arts and public programs, and Andrew Zawacki, an associate professor of English and director of UGA’s creative writing program. A public reception in the CinéLab will follow the screening and discussion.

On Feb. 28 at 4 p.m.,  Guo will lead the interactive talk “Beyond Chinamerica” in Room 148 of the Miller Learning Center. The discusison will be moderated by Karin Myhre, an associate professor of comparative literature.

These lectures are free and open to the public. Come out this week and take advantage of these great opportunities.

Summer research grant opportunity


Enter the 2014 Tinker Graduate Field Research Award Competition



The Franklin College of Arts and Sciences Latin American and Caribbean Studies Institute (LACSI) recently announced the 2014 Tinker Foundation, Inc. Field Research Grant for students. 

The grants are meant to help fund travel and other expenses for highly qualified graduated students with an interest in conducting preliminary field research in Spanish or Portuguese-speaking Latin American or Caribbean region, excluding Puerto Rico.

Conducting field research is instrumental for academics to clearly document and study these regions.

This opportunity, which was funded with support by the Franklin College and the UGA Graduate School, will give some students the means to pursue research that they wouldn’t otherwise have funding to complete.

The Latin American and Caribbean Studies Institute at UGA serves a very important purpose. As LACSI’s mission statement explains:

The Latin American and Caribbean region has had major social, cultural, political, and economic impact on the United States. This influence has increased exponentially over the last decade, especially in the state of Georgia. Establishing in-depth understandings of the region and its peoples, including those who have come to the United States from those regions and their descendants, has become crucially important in the state, and the challenge will likely grow in coming decades. LACSI’s primary mission is to address this need by promoting research, education, and service and outreach on Latin America, the Caribbean, and US Latinos.

LACSI offers a wide range of academic programs including an A.B. degree, an undergraduate certificate, a graduate certificate, an undergraduate minor and several other programs to help foster learning in this area of study. 

As an interdisciplinary program, the programs offer students a broad perspective. Course offerings represent many fields such as African-American Studies, anthropology, history, international affairs, journalism, literature, culture, music sociology, theater and many more. Students also complete extensive training in language—Spanish, Portuguese, Quechua and/or French. 

The LACSI’s mission grows increasingly important in the context of our changing demographics. This grant competition is a great opportunity for students to pursue research in an area of growing relevance in the future. 

Check out more about the competition for grant funds here. Applications are due February 24 and grant recipients will receive word about the competition by March 10-14. 

You can also learn more about LACSI mission here.

Anthropologist examines land-grabbing in Sub-Saharan Africa



Zambia copper mineUGA anthropologist Laura German studies the effects of large-scale, land-based investments in Sub-Saharan Africa. Sometimes referred to as "land grabbing," the large-scale buying or leasing of large tracts of land in developing countries shifts indigenous, or customary, land rights from chiefs and local communities to investors or national governments. She and her co-authors present a framework for evaluating the effects of these land deals not only local land users, but the entire citizenry, and illustrate its application to Zambian copper mines and the Malawian tobacco industry.

“A host of secondary benefits and costs—both anticipated and unanticipated—accompany any industrial-scale intervention through direct and indirect influences,” said German, an assistant professor with the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences.

In a paper published Jan. 16 in the Journal of Peasant Studies, German identifies key pathways through which the production or extraction of key commodities, such as tobacco and copper, affect local land users and citizens. She also lays out a framework for assessing costs.

“This is perhaps the first paper to systematically reflect on these societal-level benefits and costs in the context of the recent land and investment rush,” she said. “Much of the literature on impacts has focused on local level livelihood and environmental costs, while much of the policy impetus for land-based investment focuses on macro-level benefits.” By bringing both benefits and costs into focus at each level, she attempts to forge a more nuanced conversation among proponents and critics.

The most recent estimates suggest at least 35 million hectares of land in developing countries have been acquired for large-scale agricultural investments through long-term, renewable leases since the early 2000s. Many countries throughout Africa have been active in seeking to attract investment through land policy and investment reforms in the hopes that economic development will follow. Most of the discussion of ‘impacts’ has focused at the local level. German says there are “costs and benefits that accrue not just to directly affected communities, but to society at large.”

Cortona Student and Faculty Reunion


main area of CortonaThe Lamar Dodd School of Art will host to a reunion of the UGA-Cortonese as students and faculty gather to celebrate the 44th anniversary of UGA's premier Studies Abroad Program.

The program has grown and changed a great deal over the course of its four-decade existence, though so much about the immersive small town experience remains the same. The medieval hilltown of 1,200 tucked in the foothills of the Apennine Mountains, so close to the art centers of Italy but far enough away to preserve the quiet and solitude of Tuscany, continues to attract our best artists. And the experience has lifelong impact, creating friends of UGA as far afield as can be imagined. Among the reunion of students and faculty, along with several of our past directors of the program (including program founder Jack Kehoe) there will also be a closing reception for the LDSOA exhibition, La Mostra Cortona 2013, featuring works by Shawn Ireland. The reception and reunion are both at 3 p.m. in the school of art.

Join us at LDSOA on Saturday to celebrate Cortona!

Image: The lovely city on the hill.

Francis Assaf: The world of language


assaf_francis outsideI had the pleasure last month of interviewing one of the great UGA faculty members - of which there are certainly many, but each time we get to know another one and understand their particular impact I'm reminded what an honor it is to be around this level of scholars:

From the beginning of his career, Assaf has maintained an active program of research. In addition to his three single-author books, several critical editions and scores of articles, he has read papers on three continents and lectured at several French universities. His current research and graduate teaching remains focused on 17th- and 18th-century authors, including Antoine Houdar de la Motte (1672-1731) and the author on whom he wrote his dissertation, Alain-René Lesage (1668-1747). Assaf is contributing to an edition of the complete works of Lesage for the French imprint, Honoré Champion.
In addition to these service and professional activities, having served in the academic senate at UGA as well as the University Council, Assaf teaches a First-Year Odyssey seminar on the civilization of ancient Egypt.

As a new professor whose arrival coincided with that of the computer age, Assaf was instrumental in helping the Romance languages department become more computerized. His continued engagement with that aspect of his professional life is one of the tools that keep him connected to his students and helps him lead them to so many new and wondrous places.

The remarkable tools he puts together for his FYO students on Egyptian culture can be found here. Romance languages is a dynamic Franklin College unit, one of that holds the keys to many worlds of culture, philosophy and communication - all for the asking. As we are prone to remind every student, if you graduate from UGA without securing a proficiency in a second or third language, you have left something very important - and valuable - on the table. A table in Gilbert Hall, most likely.

Merci, Dr. Assaf.

First McClintock Prize


Barbara_McClintock with microscopeBarbara McClintock (1902-1992) was one of the foremost women scientists in 20th century America, noted for her pioneering research on transposable elements in maize. For this work she was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1983. She was the third woman to receive an unshared Nobel Prize in the sciences. Obviously a giant in the field of genetics, the McClintock Prize for Plant Genetics and Genome Studies was established by the Maize Genetics Executive Committee and very first recipient is Sir David C. Baulcombe, of the University of Cambridge, U.K.:

The announcement was made Dec. 19 by Jeff Bennetzen, chair of the committee and the Norman and Doris Giles Professor of Genetics and Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar at the University of Georgia.

This inaugural award was presented to Baulcombe in recognition of his career of scientific accomplishments. His work includes the characterization of mechanisms of viral pathogenesis in plants and identification of virus resistance genes. 

There is much more news from the department of genetics on the way in early 2014, so stay tuned. Lots of great work going on there and it's also of note that our faculty are integrally involved in recognizing one of the leaders in the field.

Image: Barbara McClintock, 1947, via Wikimedia Commons.

Africa and its Diaspora


diawara, close upThe word 'diaspora' has as its origin a Greek word meaning "scattering." It has come to refer to a scattered population with a common origin from a small geographic region. Africa, as the single largest geographic region in the world, has a very large dispersed population, both of a voluntary and an involuntary nature, that has had and continues to have a wide impact on world history and geopolitics.

So that's a long-winded set up for the Second Annual International Conference on Africa and its Diaspora, AICAID 2013, that will be held at UGA beginning next Wednesday, Nov. 13:

The AICAID 2013 conference will build on the foundation laid during the first conference held in November 2012 as part of the 25th anniversary of African studies at UGA. Participants from North America, Europe, New Zealand, the Middle East and Africa will present more than 100 papers at the conference.

"It is hoped that the conference will, once again, offer a forum for intensive exchanges between scholars, researchers and technocrats from various disciplines working in Africa and the African Diaspora," said Akinloye Ojo, director of the UGA African Studies Institute and associate professor in the department of comparative literature in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences. "Globalization continue to impact millions of people worldwide—and none more acutely than the diverse populations within Africa."

Featured speakers for the three-day conference on "Africans and Globalization: Contents and Discontents" will include Mamadou Diawara of Goethe University in Frankfurt, Germany, and Charity Angya of Benue State University in Nigeria.

The African Studies Institute is an important campus and Franklin unit for this very reason: organizing such forums for international leaders and he campus community to interact on ongoing crucial topics. We are glad to support and look forward to these events. Registration information available here.

Image: Professor Mamadou Diawara, courtesy of The Sacramento Bee/Renée C. Byer