Global Awareness Lecture Series

The Global Awareness Lecture Series is a program of guest speakers on international relations topics that has been conducted at St. John's University and the College of St. Benedict since 1982. Since the beginning it has been organized and administrated by Gary Prevost in the Political Science Department. Funding for the program has come primarily from the Office of Academic Affairs with additional monies from the student-led International Affairs Club and The Minnesota Humanities Commission. On some occasions programs are co-sponsored by other academic departments and programs. Professor Manju Parikh from the Political Science Department has been a primary consultant of the program and in Professor Prevost's absence, its director.

The topics covered and the regions of the world explored are multiple. The programs are often integrated directly into the curriculum of political science and other courses. The speakers come from a wide range of backgrounds including academics, political activism, journalism, and consulting. Listed below are some of the topics and speakers that have been featured in the last five years. All speakers give public lecture open to all and in some cases the visitors speak in classes and meet informally with students.

Fall 2014 Lectures

October 28, 2014 Carlos Oliva: "Cuban-Latin American Relations in a Changing Hemisphere"  

Carlos Oliva is a Professor of History, University of Havana.  For many years he served as executive director of the Association for the Unity of Our America, an NGO based in Havana. He has also been a visiting professor at the University of Texas and John Hopkins University. He is the author, co-author, and editor of numerous books including The Bush Doctrine and Latin America and Panamericanism and Neo PanAmericanism: The View from Latin America. 

October 21, 2014 Josefa Gomez and Leonardo Luna Alzate: "These Roses Have Thorns: Flower Workers and US Free Trade with Colombia"

Flowers are one of Colombia's biggest exports (with 76% imported to the US) - and a priority sector in the Labor Action Plan created as part of the US Free Trade Agreement.  US consumers and tax payers have a direct relationship to Colombian flower growers, and this lecture will provide insight into the working conditions of laborers in Colombia.

  *  The workers, 65% who are female, have few protections.  They are often forced to take pregnancy tests and birth control to avoid the common birth defects.
  *  Workers are exposed to 127 different pesticides, 3 the World Health Organization has labeled as extremely toxic and 20% are known carcinogens or toxins and use is prohibited or restricted in the U.S.
  *  Pesticides are sometimes sprayed directly onto workers
  *  During the busy season, workers can be forced to work 12-16 hour days, 6 days a week.

The speakers are involved in CACTUS which is a Colombian advocacy organization that encourages women flower workers to fight for their rights by offering legal advice and support programs. CACTUS supports the women in workers' rights movements, promotes participation in local decision-making processes and supports professional and organizational skill development.

Spring 2014 Lectures

April 14, 2014  Arnold August - "What Does Democracy Look Like? Cuba, Its ALBA Allies, and the United States"

Arnold August has an MA in political science from McGill University. He is an author, journalist and lecturer living in Montreal. He is the author of Democracy in Cuba and the 1997-98 Elections (Editorial José Martí). He has also contributed a chapter entitled "Socialism and Elections" for the volume Cuban Socialism in a New Century: Adversity, Survival and Renewal (University Press of Florida).  His current book is entitled Cuba and Its Neighbours: Democracy in Motion (Fernwood Publishing and Zed Books). It will also be published in Spanish and French.                                 

March 12, 2014  Dr. Fouzia Saeed - "Women Taking Charge for the Future of Pakistan"

Dr. Fouzia Saeed, is a brave social activist who has repeatedly raised issues when it was not acceptable to talk about them. She is a social scientist with a PhD from the University of Minnesota, is the author of "Taboo! The Hidden Culture of a Red Light Area," based on 8 years of field research among prostitutes in Pakistan.   Dr. Saeed returned to Pakistan to pursue a  career in social change. She has worked for the United Nations and other international development organizations. Her main identity remains her activist work on women's issues, social justice and democracy. She is currently the Director of Mehergarh, a human rights institute.  Dr. Saeed is well known in Pakistan's social movement, having worked for decades on women's issues especially those linked to violence against women, prostitution, women in the entertainment business, women's mobility and sexual harassment. Her work on violence against women spans over 20 years and includes founding the first women's crisis center in Pakistan in 1991. Her work has helped our society to recognize these issues, and others, by initiating open debate around them.  Video of the lecture.

February 12, 2014 Coleen Rowley - "Massive Spying and Governmental Secrecy Are Unethical, Illegal, and Counter-productive."

Coleen Rowley is a retired FBI agent and former Minneapolis Division Legal Counsel. In May of 2002 Rowley brought some of the pre 9-11 lapses to light and testified to the Senate Judiciary Committee about some of the endemic problems facing the FBI and the intelligence community. Rowley's memo to FBI Director Robert Mueller in connection with the Joint Intelligence Committee's Inquiry led to a two year long Department of Justice Inspector General investigation. In April 2003, following an unsuccessful and highly criticized attempt to warn the Director and other administration officials about the dangers of launching the invasion of Iraq, Rowley stepped down from her (GS-14) legal position to go back to being a (GS-13) FBI Special Agent. She retired from the FBI at the end of 2004. Rowley authored a chapter in a 2004 book published by the Milton Eisenhower Foundation entitled, Patriotism, Democracy and Common Sense: Restoring America's Promise at Home and Abroad and another chapter on civil liberties in the 2012 book Why Peace. Video of the lecture.

Fall 2013 Lectures

November 20, 2013 Alfred P. Montero: The Brazilian Turnaround: A Serious Country At Last?

At the beginning of the 1990s, Brazil was described as having a "feckless" political system and an economy "drunk" on hyperinflation. By the mid-2000s, it was the 'B' in the BRICS. How did this turnaround happen? Is it real? Has Brazil become a serious country at long last?  Prof. Alfred Montero argues that Brazil has secured a notable turnaround in political governance, economic management, and most impressively, in social indicators. But much more is left to do to improve the quality of democracy. The mass demonstrations that have plagued the Dilma Rousseff presidency's preparations for hosting the World Cup in 2014 are a reflection of a public that has grown frustrated with the pace of change and the priorities of public policy.  Video of the lecture.

October 23, 2013 Francisco Cerezo, Founder of Comite Cerezo  "Drugs, Guns and U.S. Policies in Mexico: Lessons from a Mexican Human Rights Organization."

Militarization, fueled by over 1.1 billion in military aid from the U.S. and justified by the War on Drugs, has contributed to increased violence, political repression, and human rights violations in Mexico.  The 2001 arrest of three Cerezo brothers for student activism provides one powerful example; they were incarcerated in federal prison for over seven years where they were physically and psychologically tortured.  The Cerezo brothers were not alone.  Over 900 individuals have been detained or persecuted for political reasons since 2000.  Family members and allies, including brother Francisco Cerezo, formed Comite Cerezo in response.  Video of the lecture.

September 25, 2013 John Keller: "Immigration Reform 2013 - Fixing a Broken System in Washington: Opportunities, Warnings."

John Keller has been the Executive Director of the Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota since 2005.  Prior to that, he was a staff attorney at ILCM from 1998 to 2004. Mr. Keller graduated Cum Laude from Hamline School of Law in 1996 and received his B.A. in Latin American Studies and Spanish from the University of Minnesota in 1992. After law school, Mr. Keller served as a Judicial Law Clerk at the Minnesota Court of Appeals (1997-1998). He also served as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Minnesota Immigration Clinic from 2004-06, and as Vice Chair of the Minnesota State Bar Immigration Chapter. Mr. Keller was named Attorney of the Year 2007 by Minnesota Lawyer, and received the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits 2007 Advocacy Award on behalf of ILCM for work he led in response to immigration raids in 2006.  Video of the lecture.

Spring 2013 Lectures:

March 7, 2013. Professor Noburo Noguchi, "Palestine and UNESCO: The Success & Consequences of Palestinian Membership in UNESCO."  Professor Noguchi is currently serving as the Director-General of the National Federation of UNESCO Associations in Japan, and was the Vice-President and a Professor at the Bunkyo Gakuin University.

April 9, 2013. Jordan Ash, from the Jewish Voice for Peace on the Global Movement for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel.

Fall 2012 Lectures:

September 18, 2012. Jason Lindsey, chair of the Political Science Department at St. Cloud State University spoke on "Putinism and Russia's Political Dead End" highlighting the ramifications of the recent concentration of political power in Russia in the hands of Vladimir Putin and his One Russia Party. Professor Lindsey received his M.A. and Ph.D. in political science from Columbia University and a certificate in Russian Area Studies from the Harriman Institute. He is the author of several articles on Russian affairs and a book, The Concealment of the State: Exposing and Challenging the Postmodern State. In spring semester 2013 he was a Fullbright Scholar at the National Law Academy in Kharkiv, Ukraine.  Video of this lecture.

October 9, 2012. Professor Ragui Assaad, Professor of Public Affairs at the Humphrey Institute "Making Sense of Developments in Post-Revolution Egypt". Professor Assaad holds a Ph.D. degree in City and Regional Planning from Cornell University and a Master's degree in Mechanical Engineering from Stanford University. He is a non-resident senior fellow at the Global Economic and Development Program of the Brookings Institution (U.S.A.) and a Research Fellow of the Economic Research Forum (Egypt). He served as Regional Director for West Asia and North Africa for the Population Council, based in Cairo, Egypt, from 2005 to 2008.  Video of this lecture.

Spring 2012 Lectures:

March 14, 2012.  Prof. Masako Tanaka presented on "Reconstruction efforts after the earthquake and tsunami in Japan."  Professor Masako Tanaka is from Bunkyo Gakuin University, our partner institution in Tokyo, Japan. She is an expert on development assistance and has spent many years working in the development field in South Asia.

April 2, 2012.  Drs. Anuradha Chenoy and Kamal Mitra Chenoy presented on "India's Challenges: Kashmir and Maoist Insurgency."  Video of this lecture.

Fall 2011 Lectures:

9/21/11: Martin Loken, Canada's Consel General in Minneapolis, "Friends, Partners, Allies: The Canada-U.S. Partnership." Wednesday, September 21, 2011,7:30pm, Quad 264, SJU. Mr. Loken is Canada's senior representative for the Upper Midwest states of Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota.     Video of 9/21/11 presentation

10/4/11: Dr. Mary West, Professor of Literature at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, "Welcome to South Africa: A Road Map to 'Race' in Words and Images." Tuesday, October 4, 7:30pm, Quad 264, SJU.
Video of 10/4/11 presentation

10/19/11: Nancy Garcia, Center for the Orientation of Migrants (COMI), Oaxaca, Mexico presented "Railroaded by NAFTA/CAFTA: The Perilous Journey from Central America to the States" Wednesday, October 19 at 7:30pm in Quad 264, SJU. Co-sponsored with the Latino/Latin American Studies Program. Video of 10/19/11 presentation.

Fall 2010 Lectures:

Dr. Rodney Cunningham, United States Foreign Service Officer and former Professor of Political Science at CSB/SJU "Understanding U.S. Foreign Policy: The African Context" September 22, 2010

Rubina Feroze Bhatti, Pakistani Human Rights and Peace Advocate "The Struggle for Peace, Environmental Justice, and Women's Rights in Pakistan" October 4, 2010

Padre Jesus Alberto Franco, Executive Secretary, Colombian Inter-Church Commission for Peace & Justice "U.S. Foreign Policy and Human Rights in Colombia" October 26, 2010

Dr. A. K. Pasha, Fulbright Scholar and Professor School of International Studies, Jawaharal Nehre University, New Delhi "India's Emergence as a Regional and World Power" November 17, 2010

Contact Us

Gary F Prevost, Professor
Political Science Department
SIMNS 166, SJU Campus
College of Saint Benedict
Saint John's University
(320) 363-2725