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Events and Activities

The Principal Financial Group Center for Global Citizenship at Drake University
Fall 2012 Speaker and Film Series
All events are free and open to the public.

September 8, Panel Discussion
Topic: A Year in Tahrir Square: The Future of the Arab Spring
Location: Aliber 101
Time: 3 – 4:30 p.m.
Co-sponsors: Des Moines United Nations Association, Iowa United Nations Association, National Security Network

Panelists: Mark Goldberg, UN Dispatch
Michael Wahid Hanna, The Century Foundation
Marc Lynch, The George Washington University
Moderator: Mahmoud Hamad, Drake University

A panel of distinguished visiting experts will discuss the ongoing Arab Spring and its implication on the United States.  Topics will include the role of the international community in the responsibility to protect, the challenges faced by transitioning states, and geopolitical issues moving forward.

September 10, Tara Sonenshine
Topic: Changing Minds, Changing Lives – the Impact of International Student Exchanges
Location: Meredith 101
Time: 3:30-5 p.m.
Co-sponsors:  J-Center, US Center for Citizen Diplomacy, the President's Office at Drake University

Tara D. Sonenshine is the Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs in the U.S. Department of State.  Tara was formerly Executive Vice President of the United States Institute of Peace. Prior to joining the United States Institute of Peace, she was a strategic communications adviser to many international organizations including USIP, the International Crisis Group, Internews, CARE, The American Academy of Diplomacy, and the International Women’s Media Foundation. Ms. Sonenshine served in various capacities during the Clinton Administration, including Transition Director and Director of Foreign Policy Planning for the National Security Council and Special Assistant to the President and Deputy Director of Communications for the NSC.  Tara has had a distinguished career in communications and government, with high-level experience in broadcast, print, and online media.   She has produced news programs for network television and authored numerous articles for national print and online media. She is the recipient of 10 News Emmy Awards and other awards in journalism for broadcast programs on domestic and international issues.  Tara graduated from Tufts University in 1981 Phi Beta Kappa with a B.A. in political science. 

September 12, Drake Students Interfaith Dialogue
Location: Olin 101
Time: 7 p.m.
Co-sponsor:  The Comparison Project

September 26, Nikky-Guninder K. Singh
Topic: Sikhism and Suffering:  Understanding and Healing after the Milwaukee Massacre
Location: Harvey Ingham 104
Time: 7 p.m.
Co-sponsor:  The Comparison Project

October 2-3, Herb and Karen Baum Symposium on Ethics and the Professions
Location:  Olmsted Center
Time:  Morning, lunch, and afternoon sessions Tuesday, 8:30 a.m. – Wednesday, 12 p.m.
Schedule and registration details are at:

October 4, Ilan Berman
Topic:  High Stakes with Iran
Location:  Sussman Theater, Olmsted Center (formerly Bulldog Theater)
Time: 7-8:30 p.m.
Co-sponsor:  Jewish Federation of Greater Des Moines

Ilan Berman is vice president of the American Foreign Policy Council in Washington, DC. An expert on regional security in the Middle East, Central Asia, and the Russian Federation, he has consulted for both the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency and the U.S. Department of Defense, and provided assistance on foreign policy and national security issues to a range of governmental agencies and congressional offices.  Mr. Berman is a member of the associated faculty at Missouri State University's Department of Defense and Strategic Studies.  Mr. Berman is the author of Tehran Rising: Iran's Challenge to the United States (Rowman & Littlefield, 2005), co-editor, with J. Michael Waller, of Dismantling Tyranny: Transitioning Beyond Totalitarian Regimes (Rowman & Littlefield, 2005), and editor of Taking on Tehran: Strategies for Confronting the Islamic Republic (Rowman & Littlefield, 2007). His latest book, Winning the Long War: Retaking the Offensive Against Radical Islam, was published by Rowman & Littlefield in July 2009.

October 18, J. Carl Ganter
Topic:  The Global Freshwater Crisis
Location: Reading Room, Cowles Library
Time: 3-4:30 p.m.
Co-sponsor: World Food Prize Foundation

J. Carl Ganter is director and co-founder of Circle of Blue, the international network of leading journalists, scientists and communications design experts that reports and presents the information necessary to respond to the global freshwater crisis. He is also the co-founder of the global initiative, Designing Water’s Future, which emerged from a World Economic Forum session he co-presented with Brian Collins, chairman of Collins: Transformative Design. He is a photojournalist, writer, and broadcast reporter, and his reportage has appeared in many magazines and newspapers as well as on television and radio. He serves on the "Navigating Peace" Water Working Group, which produces policy papers on global freshwater water policies, at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. He has been a long-time visiting faculty member at the Poynter Institute for Media Studies and a lecturer at the University of North Carolina School of Journalism’s Multimedia Bootcamp. He has been a presenter at the Aspen Institute Aspen Ideas Festival, World Economic Forum and Aspen Environment Forum, and is a member of the Clinton Global Initiative.

October 19, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon
Topic: Global Citizenship in a Changing World
Location: Sheslow Auditorium, Old Main
Time: 8:45 – 9:45 a.m.
Ban Ki-moon is the eighth Secretary-General of the United Nations. His priorities have been to mobilize world leaders around a set of new global challenges, from climate change and economic upheaval to pandemics and increasing pressures involving food, energy and water. He has sought to be a bridge-builder, to give voice to the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people, and to strengthen the Organization itself. "I grew up in war," the Secretary-General has said, "and saw the United Nations help my country to recover and rebuild. That experience was a big part of what led me to pursue a career in public service. As Secretary-General, I am determined to see this Organization deliver tangible, meaningful results that advance peace, development and human rights." Mr. Ban took office on January1, 2007. On June 21, 2011, he was unanimously re-elected by the General Assembly and will continue to serve until December 31, 2016. Reservations are full for this event. You may watch it live online at

October 23, Commissioner Donald Tong (唐智強),Hong Kong Commissioner for Economic and Trade Affairs
Topic: Hong Kong - 15 Years After the Changeover
Location: Medbury Honors Lounge
Time: 2 -3 p.m.

On July 1, 1997, the free market-driven Hong Kong was returned to the People’s Republic of China with the promise of a high degree of autonomy under the “One Country, Two Systems” principle. Fifteen years after the return, how has Hong Kong fared, and what is the latest economic and trade relations between the U.S. and Hong Kong? Commissioner Donald Tong will give you a first-hand account of what makes Hong Kong tick, why it remains important for the business community in Iowa and in the U.S., and what the areas of opportunities are for U.S. businesses in and through Hong Kong.

October 25, Michelene Pesantubbee
Topic: Dancing Our Troubles Away:  Native American Ways of Alleviating Suffering
Location: Olin 101
Time: 7 p.m.
Co-sponsor:  The Comparison Project

Oct. 26, A Roundtable on International Careers
Panelists:  Mary Knox, Amir Busnov, Ashley Templeton, and Kavi Chawla
Location:  Medbury Honors Lounge
Time:  4:45 - 5:45 p.m.
Sponsor: The Principal Financial Group Center for Global Citizenship at Drake

This roundtable on international careers includes the following Drake alumni:

  • Mary Knox, class of 1978 (IR); MA Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University; recently retired after career with U.S. Department of Commerce and Agency for International Development;
  • Amir Busnov, class of 2007 (IR); MA Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University; Human Terrain Analysis, Department of Defense, Afghanistan and Iraq;
  • Ashley Templeton, class of 2006 (IR); Worked on human rights and democracy promotion in El Salvador, currently with Engineers without Borders;
  • Kavi Chawla, class of 1998 (history, politics and economics); MA in international relations, Columbia University; MBA, University of Chicago; Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Nur Global Strategies (international financial consulting).

October 29, Panel Discussion on US foreign policy and the elections
Panelists:  Ellen Pirro, Arthur Sanders, and Kieran Williams
Location: Meredith 106
Time: 7:30 – 9 p.m.

Arthur Sanders currently serves as the Associate Provost at Drake.  He has taught classes on the American political process, public opinion, elections, media and politics, women and politics, and comparative political parties and interest groups. His areas of research include the formation and dynamics of public opinion, the role of the media and the impact of money, political parties and interest groups on our political processes. He has published four books on American politics, the most recent in 2007 titled Losing Control: Presidential Elections and the Decline of Democracy. He received his BA degree from Franklin and Marshall College and his PhD from Harvard University. 

Ellen Pirro is an adjunct instructor in the Department of Politics and International Relations at Drake.  She specializes in academic topics including international relations, western Europe, comparative politics, research methodology, developing areas, international law, and women and politics. She has published numerous papers published on topics such as the European Union, Africa, women’s health, and foreign policy. Ellen Pirro is a member of the American Political Science Association, Mid-Western Political Science Association, International Studies Association, African Studies Association, American Society of International Law, Iowa League of Women Voters, Iowa Women’s Political Caucus, and is a board member of the International Service Community.  She received her BA from the University of New Hampshire and PhD at Yale University.

Kieran Williams is a visiting assistant professor in the Department of Politics and International Relations at Drake. He is the author of The Prague Spring and Its Aftermath: Czechoslovak Politics, 1968-70. He is also the co-author of Security Intelligence Services in New Democracies: The Czech Republic, Slovakia and Romania with Palgrave MacMillian and Embodying Democracy: Electoral System Design in Post- Communist Europe.  He received his PhD from the School of Slavonic and Eastern European Studies at the University of London.

October 30, Diego Zavala
Topic: Representation and Representativity of Culture in Documentary Film: The Case of TV Documentaries about the Iraq War
Location: Sussman Theater, Olmsted Center (formerly Bulldog Theater)
Time: 7-8:30 p.m.
Professor Diego Zavala is a member of the department of Media and Communications at Technologico de Monterrey, Guadalajara campus, where he teaches media-related courses such as Screenwriting, Video Production, TV Production, Film Production, Documentaries, Image Semiology, and Film Studies. Zavala also is coordinating the Media Convergence Research Group.  He received his doctorate in Social Communications  and Media, specializing in audiovisual, from  Barcelona / Universitat Pompeu Fabra.  Professor Zavala's presentation will explore how  documentary film is informed by the notion  that representation in non-fiction assures representativity.   He will argue that we tend to think that individual experiences reflect how an entire community thinks and feels about something , and this is problematic because representativity and representation sometimes work as the same thing, and other times operate as contradictory elements in the same film or TV program.  He will begin by presenting discourse concerned with the social use of documentaries to create public opinion and then move on to analysis of the cases of TV films about the Iraq War.

October 31, Eduardo Gonzalez
Topic: The collective imaginary of 'the cult of death' in Mexico (El imaginario colectivo del culto a la muerte en México)
Location: Medbury Honors Lounge
Time: 4 p.m.
Co-sponsor: World Languages and Cultures and Center for the Humanities
Eduardo Gonzalez Velázquez is a historian, chronicler and political analyst. He holds a PhD in Social Sciences with a specialization in history and is a professor at Tecnológico de Monterrey, Guadalajara campus. His research areas include applied ethics and citizenship. He has received the highest level of national recognition for his research and was awarded prizes in journalism for published articles in 2007 and 2009. He has been published in magazines and newspapers in Mexico, Italy and the United States, and his recent books include Con Todo y Triques. Crónicas de Migración and Frontera Vertical; México Frente a los Migrantes Centroamericanos. He is a columnist for the newspapers La Jornada Jalisco, La Jornada Michoacán, La Opinión de Houston, Miami Diario and Proyecto Diez. His most current research focuses on the migration from Central America to Mexico and the U.S.

November 6, Yasmina Madden, Drake University Visiting Professor of English
Topic: “Cultural Responses to Serious Illness”
Location: Downtown Public Library, 1000 Grand Avenue, Des Moines
Time:  Noon - 1 p.m.

Professor Madden recently traveled to Tibet to interview Ang Lakpa, a Sherpa woman who was diagnosed with cancer after having served as a guide for Above + Beyond Cancer’s trek to Everest Base Camp in Spring 2011. Learn more about this life-affirming trek, how survivors see their journey to the world’s highest mountain as symbolic of their fight against cancer, and how they’re supporting Ms. Lakpa’s fight today.

November 8, Chinonye Chukwu
Topic: Film screening of Alaskaland and Q & A with the filmmaker
Location: Harvey Ingham 102
Time: 7-9:30 p.m.
Co-sponsors: Drake University Coalition of Black Students, African Students Association, and Women’s Studies Program

Chinonye Chukwu is a Nigerian-born, Alaskan-raised screenwriter, producer, director and educator. She is a 2007 Depauw University graduate. She also has an MFA in Film and Video from Temple University. She is the founder of “Where’s the fire?” filmworks and has created three films, Igbo Kwenu, The Dance Lesson, and Alaskland. Igbo Kwenu won the “Best Motion Picture Award” and “Best Screenplay Award” at the 2009 Diamond Screen Festival. She has also received the prestigious Princess Grace Award in 2009 for her work. Chukwu creates films to reflect the blend of her culture and the environment that she was brought up in, as well as the insecurities and complexities that came along with them.

Alaskaland is a 2012 film by Chinonye Chukwu.  It tells the Story of Chukwuma, an Alaskan-raised Nigerian struggling to balance the expectations of his traditional Nigerian parents and the larger world around him. After a tragic car crash, Chukwuma is separated from his younger sister, Chidinma, who moves to Nigeria with their uncle until she becomes of legal age. Two years later the siblings reconnect to find their estrangement has created new personal and cultural frictions in ways that bring them closer to each other and their roots, as well as help them define what it means to be a Nigerian in Alaska.


November 14, John Kiser
Topic: Loss and Suffering with Dignity: Abdel-Kader’s Jihad with France
Location: Olin 101
Time: 7 p.m.
Co-sponsor:  The Comparison Project

November 19, Panel discussion "Rebalancing U.S.-China Economic Ties"
Panelists:  Bob Baur, Jim McCaughan, and Richard Long
Location: Sussman Theater, Olmsted Center (formerly Bulldog Theater)
Time: 7-8:30 p.m.

Robert (Bob) Baur is the chief global economist for Principal Global Investors, the diversified asset management arm of the Principal Financial Group®. He has a PhD in economics and a BS in mathematics from Iowa State.  He completed post-doctoral study in finance and economics at the University of Minnesota. He speaks around the world, is frequently quoted by the financial news media, and appears regularly on CNBC, Fox Business and Bloomberg Television.

Jim McCaughan is chief executive officer of Principal Global Investors. He also serves as president of global asset management for the Principal Financial Group. Jim graduated with a degree in mathematics from the University of Cambridge (Pembroke College) and is a Fellow of the Institute of Actuaries. His career began in 1974 as an actuary with Lane Clark & Peacock, London.  Currently, Jim oversees investment activities across asset classes and market regions, with primary responsibility for the strategic development of Principal’s asset management business globally.

Richard Long is an Assistant Professor of Practice in Finance at Drake.  He received his BA from Cornell College and his MA from the University of Iowa.


November 29, Des Moines Community Interfaith Dialogue
Location: Tifereth Israel Synagogue, 924 Polk Blvd., Des Moines
Time: 7 p.m.
Co-sponsor:  The Comparison Project

November 30, Striving for Eternal Life Choir
Topic: Choral performance
Location: Sheslow Auditorium, Old Main
Time: 8 - 9:30 p.m.
Co-sponsor: Drake University School of Education

Organized by Drake University student Vincent Niyokwizera, the Striving for Eternal Life Choir is composed of young refugees from Burundi who spent much of their childhoods in refugee camps in Tanzania before making their way to the United States in 2007/08. Inspired by religious faith, the members of the choir share their experiences through song and dance that they have written and choreographed.

December 5, Video Screening
Topic: Roots and Routes: Exploring Diversity
Location: Olin 206
Time: 6:30 p.m.
Co-sponsors: Department for the Study of Culture and Society, Office of Service-Learning, First-Year Seminar Program

Students in Dr. Sandi Patton-Imani’s First Year Seminar: Diversity in the U.S. participated in a service-learning project with 4th grade students at Walnut Street International Baccalaureate Elementary School this fall. Drake and Walnut Street students spent the semester exploring the roots and routes of global diversity in the U.S. Working collaboratively in small groups, Drake and Walnut Street students explored immigration history and cultural influences from Europe, Africa, and Asia, alongside North American Native American and Mexican cultures. This video is the story of our semester collaboratively exploring global diversity in the U.S. The screening and reception following were organized by students in Dr. Darcie Vandegrift’s Sociology 20 class, Introduction to Race and Ethnic Relations.


December 5, Panel Discussion
Topic: Perspectives on Iran: Media, Foreign Policy, and Human Rights
Location: Meredith 101
Time: 7-8:30 p.m.
Co-sponsor: Iowa International Center

Speakers: Saeed Kamali Dehghan along with panelists Mahmoud Hamad, Ellen Pirro and David Skidmore

Mr. Kamali Dehghan currently writes on Iranian issues as a foreign correspondent for the British daily newspaper The Guardian. He co-produced HBO’s documentary FOR NEDA, the story of Neda Agha-Soltan whose death in 2009 came to symbolize for many the struggle in Iran. Mr. Kamali Dehghan worked secretly within Iran to locate and film interviews with with Neda’s family. The documentary won a Peabody Award and the 2010 Foreign Press Association’s Best Documentary of the Year. Mr. Kamali Dehgan also won the 2010 UK Journalist of the Year award for the film. He has a strong interest in human rights and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues, especially as they relate to Iran.