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IRIS Seeking Applications for 2017-2018 Graduate Project Assistantships

Call for Applications
Graduate Project Assistantships in International Studies Administration

The Institute for Regional and International Studies (IRIS), a unit in the UW-Madison International Division, anticipates multiple openings for graduate student project assistants for the duration of the 2017-18 academic year.

Project Assistants will be based in IRIS but some will be assigned, for one semester or two, to one of the regional centers that make up IRIS. All appointments will be at 50 percent and require 20 hours of work per week, with compensation at the standard 50 percent PA level and full tuition remission and other assistantship benefits.

The purpose of the PAships is twofold: (1) to help IRIS and its constituent centers accomplish necessary work and (2) to help prepare selected students for jobs after graduation that may entail or include administration.
Thus, we are especially interested in applications from students whose academic work focuses on some aspect of regional and international studies, who anticipate careers that might involve administrative elements, and who would appreciate receiving training and mentoring in international studies administration.


PAs will work under the general supervision of the IRIS executive director but will be assigned specific roles and supervisors within IRIS and/or its constituent centers, some appointments shifting between the fall and spring semesters, depending on needs and PA skills. Among the duties that some or all PAs will be assigned are:

  • Assistance in grant applications, grant compliance, and grant reporting, including careful compilation of data for entry into on-line reporting systems.
  • Event planning, including content planning and logistics such as venue selection and reservations, program design, air ticketing, hotel booking, publicity, and communication with participants and campus financial specialists to ensure proper documentation and timely payment of honoraria or reimbursements.
  • Regional and international studies communication, including crafting compelling content on multiple platforms to inform campus and off-campus constituencies of activities, opportunities, and events in regional and international studies.• Layout, editing, author/editor communications, marketing, and other work associated with journals and publications based in IRIS centers.
  • Assist IRIS centers with website maintenance and updating content. A working knowledge of html/css, proficiency in customizing WordPress templates, and experience with both website design and maintenance would be useful.
  • Other administrative work as assigned.


Applicants must be UW-Madison graduate students in good standing, making normal progress toward a graduate degree. Applicants must have experience outside the United States and currently working on a degree that has an international research dimension, ideally including sustained research abroad.

Applicants should apply for general consideration. We will make assignments based on needs and candidate abilities, meaning that applicants should not apply for specific duties or work in specific centers. However, application letters should clearly outline the range of the applicant’s interests and experiences that might bear on selection and assignment.

To Apply

Submit an approximately two-page letter of application, a current CV, and, on a separate sheet, the names and contact information of two persons, ideally including the applicant’s academic advisor, whom we might contact for references if the applicant becomes a finalist. The application letter should be addressed to:

PA Selection Committee
Institute for Regional and International Studies
University of Wisconsin-Madison

No mailing address is needed as it will be handled digitally.

Please assemble these three documents in a single pdf, with your full name as the file name, and attach the pdf to an email message to The subject of the email message should be “2017-18 PA Application.” The message need not have any content beyond, “Here is my application for a project assistantship in international studies administration.”

For full consideration, please apply before 10am on Monday, July 3, 2017.

Questions about the assistantships may also be addressed to

Multiple IRIS Undergraduates Awarded Scholarships!

Tayler Bujnowski, double-major in Communication Arts and International Studies with a certificate in French, has been awarded the $5,000 Henderson-Resnick Internship  Scholarship. She will be interning this summer at the BMP Film Company in Chicago where she will be involved in media production.

Tobin McGilligan (Geography and Cartography majors with certificates in European Studies and Computer Science) has been awarded the $2,000 Picus Scholarship and is participating in the US Department of State Internship at the US Embassy in Mexico in their Information Management Office.

Bridgette Stoeckel (Political Science and Scandinavian Studies majors with a certificate in European Studies) has been awarded the $5000 Shinner Family Scholarship and has accepted an internship at the Danish Parliament in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Congratulations to the three LACIS Summer Travel Grant Recipients! Christina DeMars (LACIS, International Studies, and Spanish major) will be interning at Sociedad de Integracion Gay Lesbica Argentina. Gabriella Gaus (LACIS, Psychology, and Chicanx and Latinx Studies major) will be interning at ALUBA in Argentina. Tobin McGilligan (B.S., Geographic Information Systems/Cartography & Geography, Certificates in European Studies and Computer Science) will be interning at the US Embassy in Mexico City. Each semester, LACIS invites undergraduate students (from any major or discipline) to apply for their international travel grant program.  Recipients can receive one-time funds for internships or volunteer programs in Latin America, the Caribbean, the Iberian Peninsula. Students from any nationality and citizenship are eligible to apply.

Congratulations to all of these students on their fantastic achievements!

Learn more about two International Studies undergraduates who received Newman Awards HERE.

IRIS Academic Programs: A Year in Review

It’s been a great year for IRIS! Last month, 144 students graduated with a major and/or a certificate from one of the Regional Centers. With eight area studies centers in IRIS, six of which are Title VI National Resource Centers, as well as the International Studies major, there were many opportunities for students to study the world. Here are the number of certificates and majors awarded this year, along with photos from the Centers’ ceremonies and other highlights:


African Studies: 47

East Asian Studies: 20

European Studies: 55

Middle East Studies: 7


Russian, East European, and Central Asian Studies: 8

South Asia: 6

South East Asia: 10


International Studies: 103

Latin American, Caribbean, and Iberian Studies: 11

LACIS Undergraduate Advisor, Sarah Ripp (on left) with three graduating seniors.


Two European Studies certificate students discuss their time at UW and future plans

The Center for European Studies is pleased to announce that 55 undergraduates received the European Studies Certificate this May. Our graduates majored in diverse disciplines, including History, International Studies, Economics, Journalism, Business, Biology and everywhere in between! We wish to congratulate all the graduates and wish them the best in their future endeavors. Here are profiles of two Certificate students:

Amelie von Below
I studied Marketing, International Business and German at UW-Madison. I grew up bilingual in Germany but lost much of my German after moving to the US. As German wasn’t offered at my middle school, I began to learn French and continued to study it through part of college. However, I was still interested in getting back up to a fluent level of German, so I began to take courses at UW, and studied abroad through the Academic Year on the Freiburg program. After returning to Madison and finishing the German major, I was eager to learn a new language and to learn more about areas of Europe with which I was unfamiliar. This prompted me to begin taking Danish courses. I received a FLAS (Foreign Language and Area Studies) fellowship for the study of Danish in my senior year, during which I also studied abroad (in my last semester) at the Copenhagen Business School.

Adding the European Studies Certificate to my education was a way to point out an undercurrent that had permeated my studies all along: European cultures and languages. Ever since my first semester of university, I had selected every class that focused on Europe that fit into my required coursework. I remember being excited about taking Food in Italian Literature to fulfill the literature requirement, and Global Marketing Strategy as a marketing elective.

Marketing fits nicely with my interest in European Studies, as understanding people is at its core, and the attitudes and values that people have are heavily influenced by culture and language. I am currently interviewing in Germany within the field of Marketing. I plan on working in Europe for three years before applying for my MBA in Marketing, and eventually building a career in international brand management.


Josh Kowalczyk
Josh Kowalczyk was a double major in Economics and International Studies with a Certificate in European Studies. His chief academic interest was the global political economy and its relationship to sustainable development, geopolitics, and macroeconomic policy. Additionally he was a student of Italian language, and he spent a semester abroad at John Cabot University in Rome. Beyond academics, Josh was a celebrated player on the Men’s Rugby Club at UW-Madison, while also serving on the team’s executive board as the recruiting chair.

 Josh concluded his undergraduate studies this past spring as a participant on the UW’s Wisconsin in Washington DC academic internship program, where he interned at the Delegation of the European Union in the Economic and Financial Affairs Section. In this role, Josh was granted the opportunity to research transatlantic economic policies, shadow top-level EU diplomats, and attend meetings at various organizations and government agencies (including the Department of Treasury, the US Capitol, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank).

Going forward, Josh’s post-graduate career will continue in Washington, DC at the Bipartisan Policy Center, where he will be a summer intern working on financial regulatory policy.

Two International Studies students receive Newman Awards

Newman Family Scholarship for International Studies @ UW-Madison
2017 Recipients: Michelle Lam & Emma Strenski

Biography of Michelle Lam

Michelle Lam is a current Junior majoring in International Studies, with a focus on Global Politics and Economy. Michelle was born in Hong Kong, but her family immigrated to Eau Claire, Wisconsin when she was 5 years old. While originally planning to become a doctor, Michelle instead decided to major in International Studies as she realized her passion to understand global ties and the positive and negative impacts of political economy on the daily lives’ of regular people.
International Studies 101 was what first sparked her interest in International Studies and pushed her to declare her major with the IS department, while still pursuing a pre-medical track. However, with her participation in the Taiwan-America Student Conference during Summer 2016, she realized her devotion to International Studies. Consisting of 20 American delegates, and 20 Taiwanese delegates, the conference facilitated the discussion on current issues in Education, Media, Environment, Trans-Pacific Affairs, and Education in today’s world. Both a fun and educating experience, Michelle now has cherished relationships with students ranging from across the U.S. to Taiwan. Wanting to pursue more international and cross cultural experiences, Michelle decided to drop the pre-med track to study abroad in London during Spring 2017 and participate in the Wisconsin in Washington D.C. program during Spring 2018. Currently studying abroad at the University of Westminster in London, she is already gaining different perspectives of the United States’ role in World Affairs, especially International Law and Politics. As people of all backgrounds study in London, their narratives have provided insight into the dominant role of the U.S. in International Relations, its resulting positive and negative consequences and oppositions. She is particularly interested in the Middle East and Southeast Asia and will continue to take Economics and Politics courses focused on these areas.
With graduation looming next year, Michelle plans to head out to Washington, D.C. to pursue graduate school, or a career with a think tank or in public policy. Ideally, she would like to pursue a job that will allow her to continue to study and learn International Affairs. No concrete plans have been made, however, and she is willing to keep an open mind to various opportunities that come her way.

Biography of Emma DeLaney Strenski

My name is Emma DeLaney Strenski and I am from Indianapolis, Indiana. I graduated from St. Thomas Aquinas School in 2010 and from Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School in 2014. It was at Brebeuf, in a class called Genocide and Holocaust, that International Studies first caught my attention. My teacher, Mr. Tague, introduced me to the study of other cultures in times of extreme, unthinkable violence. I would like to especially thank him for that. Ever since I took that class, I knew that I wanted to focus my future studies on the history of genocide, the politics of war, and foreign policy measures.
At the University of Wisconsin-Madison, I have taken classes geared toward this end goal, including classes on the Holocaust, World War II, Vietnam and Cambodia, US Foreign Policy, and US CIA Covert Warfare. These courses within the International Studies and History departments on campus have helped me gain a vast, diverse knowledge of conflict and resolution in modern history. This will culminate in my senior thesis, entitled “Preserving the Dayton Peace Accords with the Brcko Arbitration.” In this thesis project, I will trace the international arbitration and decision about Brcko, made under the Dayton Peace Accords, in order to examine America’s stances on human rights and individual sovereignty in the late twentieth century. I hope to explain the American approach to arbitrating multiethnic spaces using the case of Brcko, Bosnia as compared to other American interventions in the twentieth century.
The International Studies Major and my internship with the Columbia Support Network has helped me to channel my passion and interest in Latin America into preparation for a profession. In the future, I plan to use what I have learned about Latin America in my International Studies classes in the Peace Corps and law school. Immediately following my graduation in May of 2018, I hope to enter the Peace Corps for a two-year post teaching English as a second language to kids in Latin America. After completing a two-year tour in the Peace Corps, I intend to apply to the Georgetown University Law School. I will pursue a law degree with a certificate in Refugees & Humanitarian Emergencies. I want to learn about the law behind international human rights, the way it works, and how effective it is as a whole. I want to learn as much on the subject as possible, to best prepare me for a career in the field.
In short, what I have learned from my internship and my International Studies classes has influenced what I want to do with my life. This major program has helped to shape my future. I would probably be doing something completely different, perhaps something I would not be as passionate about, if I were not involved in the International Studies Major.

LACIS Faculty Releases New Book

Pablo F. Gomez is assistant professor in the Department of Medical History and Bioethics and the Department of History & also part of the LACIS core faculty. Check out his latest book “The Experiential Caribbean“!

Opening a window on a dynamic realm far beyond imperial courts, anatomical theaters, and learned societies, Pablo F. Gómez examines the strategies that Caribbean people used to create authoritative, experientially based knowledge about the human body and the natural world during the long seventeenth century. Gómez treats the early modern intellectual culture of these mostly black and free Caribbean communities on its own merits and not only as it relates to well-known frameworks for the study of science and medicine.

Drawing on an array of governmental and ecclesiastical sources—notably Inquisition records—Gómez highlights more than one hundred black ritual practitioners regarded as masters of healing practices and as social and spiritual leaders. He shows how they developed evidence-based healing principles based on sensorial experience rather than on dogma. He elucidates how they nourished ideas about the universality of human bodies, which contributed to the rise of empirical testing of disease origins and cures. Both colonial authorities and Caribbean people of all conditions viewed this experiential knowledge as powerful and competitive. In some ways, it served to respond to the ills of slavery. Even more crucial, however, it demonstrates how the black Atlantic helped creatively to fashion the early modern world.

International Freelance Journalist and LACIS Alum Coming to Campus!

Jacob Kushner, B.A. Latin American, Caribbean and Iberian Studies and Journalism (2010), will be visiting campus March 29-31 to give a public lecture, engage in classroom visits, and in two career-related events.

His visit will include the following public and free events:

Wednesday, March 29th, 12-1 p.m, 336 Ingraham Hall: “Haiti: the Promised Land” (accompanied by Haitian musician, composer, artist and human rights activist, Mona Augustin)

Wednesday, March 29th, 6:00-8:00 p.m., Union South: “Language for Life: Alumni Career Mentoring” panel discussion

Thursday, March 30th, 12:30-1:30, 2195 Vilas Hall: “Chat with a foreign correspondent and SJMC alum”

Friday, March 31st, WI Institute for Discovery: Center for Journalism Ethics’ 2017 Conference: “Truth, Trust and the Future of Journalism” roundtable discussion panelist

About Jacob: He is originally from Milwaukee and upon graduating from UW-Madison he spent two years reporting from Haiti and the Dominican Republic. He then returned to the US to complete his MA in political journalism from Columbia University in NYC.

His recent journalism has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, National Geographic, Newsweek, The New Yorker, Foreign Policy magazine, the Associated Press, VICE Magazine and The Nation. His journalism is often supported by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.

His visit is being co-sponsored by the Institute for Regional and International Studies (IRIS), the Latin American, Caribbean and Iberian Studies Program, the International Division, the Language Institute, and the School of Journalism.

Please contact Sarah Ripp, Assistant Director for Programming and Communication, with any questions at: 608-262-0616 or

Summer 2017 Language Opportunities

Have you ever wanted to learn a new language and study a foreign culture? Are you still deciding what to do this summer? Consider a summer language institute! Four centers are offering language institutes for 28 different languages and multiple levels of study. All institutes run from June 19th to August 11th. Applications are still open so check out these great opportunities now!

Arabic, Persian, Turkish Language Immersion Institute (APTLII)

Central Eurasian Studies Summer Language Institute (CESSI)

South Asia Summer Language Institute (SASLI)

Southeast Asian Studies Summer Institute (SEASSI)

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.