Author: Megan Humphreys

UW-Madison Professor Scott Straus Appointed to the United States Holocaust Memorial Council

Scott Straus, Professor of Political Science and International Studies at UW-Madison, was appointed as a member of the United States Holocaust Memorial Council by President Barack Obama at the end of December. The Council, which established and serves as the Board of Trustees for the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, plays an important role in genocide prevention discussions today. Dr. Straus says, “The Museum has been a pioneer in linking the lessons of the Holocaust to issues of contemporary genocide and mass atrocity. I think my appointment is reflective of a continued commitment in that regard.”

The White House notified Dr. Straus of his appointment a few days before the New Year. He is “thrilled and honored to serve our country in this capacity” and hopes “to honor the memory of the Holocaust and to encourage the Museum to continue to focus on contemporary issues of genocide and mass atrocity.”

Dr. Straus worked as a freelance journalist in East and Central Africa in the mid-1990s and says he has “been devoted to understand[ing] genocide and mass violence since those formative experiences.” He has written several award-winning books on genocide and mass atrocities, including The Order of Genocide: Race, Power and War in Rwanda and Making and Unmaking Nations: War, Leadership, and Genocide in Modern Africa, both published by Cornell University Press.

This is not Dr. Straus’ first experience with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. In 2011, he was named a Winnick Fellow at the Museum. Another collaboration with the Museum over the past three years resulted in the textbook Fundamentals of Genocide and Mass Atrocity Prevention. Dr. Straus describes the work as “a textbook on atrocity prevention that is accessible to policy makers and a lay audience” and states that working on it “was a rewarding experience that will inform my work on the Council.”

Dr. Straus has been a professor at the UW since 2004, and currently serves as Associate Chair/Director of Graduate Studies of Political Science. He is “grateful to the university for supporting [his] research and teaching on genocide” and hopes that through his service on the Council he can “reaffirm the great values that underpin the Wisconsin Idea.”

Center for South Asia Receives Educational Innovations Grant

The Center for South Asia and the South Asia Summer Language Institute is pleased to announce that our project was selected for a UW-Madison Educational Innovations grant of $10,000! This support will supplement costs associated with designing an Elementary Hindi blended course in Canvas and PressBooks. The development of these blended course materials, led by UW-Madison SAFLI Hindi-Urdu Language Coordinator Sarah Beckham, will enhance student proficiency outcomes by creating a flipped classroom experience in which learners acquire and apply foundational knowledge in a distributed learning environment. This approach maximizes face-to-face interaction with instructors in the target language to produce integrated learning outcomes.  In collaboration with the Blend@UW initiative, this course will be piloted during the SASLI 2017 summer program and further developed to create open-access training resources and materials for instructors.

College of Menominee Nation Partnership

On December 5, 2016 in Keshena, WI, members of the UW academic community and the Menominee Nation came together for the final meeting of a sustainable development and indigeneity seminar that ran last fall. The seminar was presented by the College of Menominee Nation (CMN) and the Sustainable Development Institute in collaboration with the University of Wisconsin-Madison. It was coordinated by doctoral candidate and IRIS Project Assistant Reynaldo Morales. In this final session, participants and members of different tribal communities in northeast Wisconsin celebrated the completion of the seminar, and shared their thoughts on the importance of this collaboration and its potential impact on future sustainable development achievements.

Supported in part by Department of Education Title VI funded regional centers of the Institute for Regional and International Studies, the seminar was part of these centers’ commitment to expand its collaboration with minority serving institutions to internationalize their curriculum. Beginning in 2014, several of the regional studies centers worked with the College of Menominee Nation to increase its connections with the Global Indigenous Movement. Prior successes of this collaboration include the participation of College of Menominee Nation faculty and administrators in the Workshop on Indigeneity in Southeast Asia at the UW, and sending a joint College of Menominee Nation delegation to the 15th session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in 2016. The seminar in the fall was the next step in what all parties hope to be continued collaboration on sustainable development and indigeneity.

The focus of the 14-week seminar was on sharing sustainable development research and practices between the UW community and the Menominee Nation. Alberto Vargas, Associate Director of Latin American, Caribbean and Iberian Studies at the University of Wisconsin and one of the organizers of the seminar, stressed the value of this sharing of ideas. “[T]his is a two-way collaboration and we at UW have a lot to learn from the wisdom and accumulated knowledge about sustainability from the Menominee Nation and in general from all the First Nations in the state.” The content of the seminar used the framework of the Menominee Model of Sustainable Development consisting of six interrelated components: land and sovereignty, environment, institutions, technology, economics, and human behavior/perception.

The seminar and the collaboration between the University and the Menominee Nation was so fruitful that it has been transformed into a for-credit course at UW-Madison this spring. Environmental Studies 402, Global Indigeneity and Sustainability, is being offered through the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies as a one-credit seminar course. Students of the College of Menominee Nation and of the Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwa Community College in Hayward, Wisconsin will also be taking the course, joining by Skype each week.

The format of the spring 2017 seminar will be similar to the seminar this past fall, with academics and researchers from multiple disciplines presenting on their projects related to indigenous communities. In addition to sustainable development, presentations will focus on Indigenous Knowledge Systems in the context of environmental science, global health, geography and international law, among others. Environmental Studies 402 is scheduled for Fridays from noon to 1:55 pm, in room L150 Education Building.

Meet Visiting Professor Thierry Cruvellier

During the Fall 2016 semester, the University of Wisconsin-Madison hosted noted journalist and author Thierry Cruvellier as a visiting lecturer. Mr. Cruvellier has spent much of his career covering war crimes trials and has attended all of the international tribunals of the post-Cold War era. He was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University in 2003-04, and has a master’s degree in Journalism from the University of Paris – Sorbonne. Mr. Cruvellier served as a Reporters Without Borders representative in the Great Lakes Region of Africa in 1994-95 and is a former editor of the online newsletter International Justice Tribune. He has written two books, one on the Rwandan genocide tribunals and the other on the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia. His most recent work, soon to be his third book, is focused on Sierra Leone.

Mr. Cruvellier has been involved in many events and activities on campus this fall including giving lectures at the African Studies Program and the Center for Southeast Asian Studies and as the keynote speaker for the IRIS Fall Welcome Event. He also guest-lectured in courses in the Department of Political Science and the Law School, contributed to workshops at the School of Journalism and the Law School, and participated in Middleton High School’s Human Rights Week by speaking to Middleton students about war crimes trials and transitional justice.

The highlight of the semester for Mr. Cruvellier was his course, International Studies 601, titled “International Criminal Justice: Models and Practice.” The focus of the course was the conflicts and human rights tragedies in Cambodia, Chad, Rwanda, the former Yugoslavia, and Sierra Leone. Mr. Cruvellier said the course was not easy, noting the substantial readings and the density of the issues and that “realizing the harsh realities of international justice at work can sometimes be difficult because it is questioning our ideals.” He was impressed with the twenty-two students in the class and how they “bravely hung on, facing the challenge while resisting the trappings of disillusion, I hope.” The course was also an opportunity for him to engage with the material and students in a new way. “It was humbling for me to try and share all these experiences, and it was also exciting and sometimes enlightening to have their feedback and reactions.” While the course and his other commitments did not leave him much time for his own research, he said his experience “has been delightful” and that “[i]t was fulfilling to share with such different audiences” and “a way to give back what I have received.”