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25 Years

Summer 2017 Newsletter

University of Minnesota Driven to Discover


News from ICGC - Summer 2017

Director's Note

Dear colleagues and friends,

The past year at ICGC has been filled with events and activities highlighting some exciting themes including arts and global social justice, children's lives and livelihoods in the global south, and the purpose of the university. Our new focus on the arts came to life with a puppet arts exchange between Minneapolis and Cape Town connected to our partnership with the University of the Western Cape; a co-sponsored symposium on arts, social justice, and communities of color; and five film screenings with filmmaker dialogues. You'll find more on our activities of the past year below.

Our alumni partnerships continue to enrich ICGC's work, particularly through our humanities collaboration with the Centre for Humanities Research at the University of the Western Cape (Premesh Lalu) and the International Waters Research Network based on a foundational partnership with the Program on Water Governance at the University of British Columbia (Leila Harris). We also invited two of our distinguished ICGC Scholar alumni, Derek Peterson and Elizabeth (Libby) Lunstrum, back to campus to speak about their current research, and alumna Pakou Hang offered inspiring keynote remarks at our ICGC spring celebration. Pakou is the co-founder and executive director of the Hmong American Farmers' Association.

The success of these alumni visits led us to launch the new ICGC Alumni Lecture Series in 2017-2018 - more on that in our next newsletter. And we are delighted to welcome ICGC alumna Richa Nagar, who is on faculty here at Minnesota, back to ICGC to teach our introductory "Ways of Knowing" seminar to the new ICGC Scholars cohort this fall. These are just a few of our alumni collaborations!

We look forward to welcoming a new cohort of 12 ICGC Scholars in fall 2017, along with eight international visiting scholars and five new ICGC Global Food Security Fellows.

Karen Brown, ICGC Director

2016-17 Highlights

Co-sponsored Film Screenings         

9/12/16: Leaf in the Wind and Discussion with Filmmaker Jean Marie-Teno and 9/13/16: Colonial Misunderstandings and Discussion with Filmmaker Jean-Marie Teno

Jean-Marie Teno, Africa’s preeminent documentary filmmaker, has been producing and directing films on the colonial and post-colonial history of Africa for over 20 years.  

9/14/16: Dialogue with My Grandmother/Dialogo con mi Abuela and Discussion with Filmmaker Gloria Rolando

Gloria Rolando has an extensive body of work on the African experience in Cuba.

11/14/16: Lamb and Discussion with Filmmaker Yared Zeleke

Lamb turns a riveting gaze on the complexities of childhood, kinship, and human-animal relations at a time of conflict in Ethiopia, with resonances across the Horn of Africa. 

12/9/16: Daughters of the Forest

Daughters of the Forest tells the powerful, uplifting story of a group of indigenous girls in a remote forest who attend a radical high school — Centro Educativo Mbaracayú (CEM) — where they learn to protect the threatened forest and forge a better future for themselves. 

1/23/17: Film Screening of Dream of Shahrazad

Francois Verster's multi-award winning film explores recent political events in Turkey and Egypt through the lens of the ages-old story collection THE THOUSAND AND ONE NIGHTS. 

Distinguished Lectures

10/18/16: Nonconformity in Africa’s Cultural History

ICGC welcomed back our alumnus, Derek Peterson, who is professor of History and Afro-American and African Studies at the University of Michigan. His scholarly work concerns the intellectual and cultural history of eastern Africa.

11/21/16: Capitalism and Conservation in the Age of Security: The Visualization of the State

ICGC also welcomed alumna Elizabeth (Libby) Lunstrum, Associate Professor of Geography and Resident Scholar in the Centre for Refugee Studies at York University. Her research focuses on the politics of conservation areas, especially national and transnational parks, in southern Africa and more recently in North America.  

Special Events

10/20/16: A Triad of Community, Development, and Postapartheid Urban Presence in Cape Town: Somerset Lakes, Siyanyanzela and a Museum @ Sea

As an architect and historian, respectively, Noëleen Murray and Leslie Witz were recruited to the board of the Lwandle Migrant Labour Museum. 

11/16/16: Panel on A Politics of Life with Yasmeen Arif, Timothy Campbell, Ajay Skaria and Jean Langford

This panel conversation brought together the panelists' work, their influences in Arif’s book, and resonant themes. 

Co-sponsored Events

9/15/16: Islam and Spiritual Resistance to Slavery in the African Diaspora 

Paul E. Lovejoy is Distinguished Research Professor in the Department of History at York University and Canada Research Chair in African Diaspora History.  

9/22/16: Global Cooperative Organizing for Sustainable Development in Africa

David Robinson, the youngest child of baseball great Jackie Robinson and his wife Rachel, grew up during the African-American Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, and has spent the last forty years promoting social justice and equal opportunity.


9/29/16: Social Sciences in the Arab World: The Silent Revolution

The first report on social sciences in the Arab World is now available! Lead author, Professor Mohammed Bamyeh, presented the findings of the intensive research undertaken by an international team of scholars and researchers. 

12/2/16: Philology and the Origins of Indian Sex Life

Durba Mitra, Fordham University, examined how philology for India, Indology – broadly conceived as the study of ancient Indian languages, texts, and cultures– shaped the modern study of sexuality. 

Research Circle Events

2/15/17: His Master's Voice and Other Questions of Fidelity by Christi Merrill, Department of Comparative Literature & Asian Languages and Culture, University of Michigan, as part of the Transborder Conversations on Race, Caste, and Indigeneity research circle.

3/25/17: Little Voices, Big Questions: Working with Child-Produced Sources in the Historical Archive by Elena Albarran, Department of History & Global and Intercultural Studies, Miami University, as part of the Subjects, Objects, Agents: Young People’s Lives and Livelihoods in the Global South research circle.


Scholar News

2017 Graduates!


  • Alicia Lazzarini (PhD, Geography, Environment, and Society, CLA) 
  • Mauricio Leon (MS, Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy, HHH) 
  • June Nkwenge (Master of Development Practice, HHH) 
  • Jose Pacas (PhD, Applied Economics, CFANS) 
  • Bernadette Perez (PhD, History, CLA)  
  • Kong Pha (PhD, American Studies, CLA) 
  • Maria Rebolleda Gómez (PhD, Ecology, Evolution & Behavior, CBS) 
  • Shana Ye (PhD, Gender, Women & Sexuality Studies, CLA) 


  • Oyudari Baatartsogt 
  • Nfamara Dampha  
  • Sean Hadorn 
  • Antony Maikuri  
  • June Nkwenge 
  • Lily Osborne 
  • Katelynn Sobraske 
  • Johanna Tatlow 
  • Maria Villarraga 
  • Moses Waiswa

Recent ICGC Scholar Placements

Placement: Climate and Energy Specialist, LHB, INC., Minneapolis, MN.

Placement: Princeton Society of Fellows Postdoctoral Fellowship in Race and Ethnicity Studies

Placement: Assistant Professor, Critical Hmong Studies and Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire

Placement: Pittsburgh Ecology and Evolution Postdoc (PEEP) Fellow, Department of Biology, University of Pittsburgh

Placement: Assistant Professor, University of Toronto, Department of Cultural and Historical Studies


Faculty and Visitor News

Awards and Accolades


  • ICGC will host another Interdisciplinary Doctoral Fellow for the 2017-18 academic year. Timothy Frye, Department of Spanish and Portuguese, was among one of 21 graduate students awarded the IDF Fellowship. The awards give exceptional doctoral students conducting interdisciplinary research the chance to work with faculty at one of the University's interdisciplinary research centers or institutes. (ICGC Scholars awarded IDF's include Aaron Eddens and Samantha Poindexter.)
  • Julie Grossman, Associate Professor in the Horticulture Department, is receiving the Emerging Leader in Plant Sciences Award. 
  • Professor Richa Nagar is being honored by Hindi Sabha, Sitapur, for unique contributions to Hindi literature, critical pedagogy, and women's empowerment. 
  • Professor Ruth Okediji is being awarded a McKnight Presidential Professorship for 2016. 
  • Arun Saldanha is becoming the Imagine Chair for Arts, Design and Humanities, 2016-2018. 
  • Lena Palacios is receiving a residential fellowship at the Institute for Advanced Study for 2017. She has also received a U of M Grant-in-Aid 2016-2018, a U of M IDEA Multicultural Research Award 2016-2017, an Imagine Fund Annual Faculty Award 2016-2017, and a Barnard Center for Research on Women Library Research Award 2016-2017. 
  • Professor Frances Vavrus is on the Fulbright Specialist Roster: U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and the Institute of International Education's Council for International Exchange of Scholars (2016-present). 
  • ICGC's visiting faculty member Asli Calkivik was elected to the position of Vice-Chair and Program Chair of the Theory Section of the International Studies Association.


Visiting Scholars

ICGC is pleased to welcome Raquel Dantas do Amaral, who is in residence at ICGC through October 2017. Raquel is from Brazil and received a Bachelor's Degree in Architecture and Urbanism in her home city of Fortaleza in 2004. She earned a Master of Science in Urban Management from the Technology University of Berlin in 2008. After finishing her master's course, she returned to Brazil and has worked for three years at the State Government of Ceara in a development project financed by Interamerican Development Bank (IDB). This period inspired her to better understand the role of development banks, so she began a Ph.D. program in the Faculty of Architecture and Urbanism at the University of São Paulo in 2014. During her third year of Ph.D. research she has the opportunity to enjoy time with the ICGC scholar community to exchange ideas about these global institutions of power and their relation with the state, focusing on urban and regional planning issues. She will also be working with Michael Goldman, ICGC affiliated faculty member in the Department of Sociology.

The collaboration includes several exchanges, the first of which included hosting two puppet artists from Cape Town, Ncedile Daki (RIP) and Luyanda Nogodlwana from the Ukwanda Collective, in residence at ICGC and HOBT during April-May 2016. They built a beautiful, large-scale heron puppet that was featured in the MayDay festival and ceremony.


The CHR also welcomed Sandy Spieler, the Artistic Director of HOBT, to the 2016 ICGC-CHR Winter School held in Cape Town. Sandy had the opportunity to visit the Handspring Puppet Company and the Ukwanda Collective at that time. Sandy has also contributed to ICGC’s International WaTERS Network, extending an artistic perspective on water access and justice.


Most recently, in December 2016, two HOBT artists, Madeline Helling and Steve Ackerman, and Michael Sommers, Associate Professor of the UMN Theatre Arts and Dance Department, joined ICGC Director Karen Brown in participating in the Barrydale Festival and Parade in Barrydale, South Africa. The 2016 Barrydale Parade was entitled Olifantland, and focused on the story of elephants and the connections they inspire to questions of history, land, environmental conservation, and social justice, as well as on the special qualities of elephants themselves. The Barrydale Festival and Parade is held in connection with South African Reconciliation Day, and the community arts event also reflects questions of reconciliation. 

A video tells some of the story of the Barrydale event and its production (and features exchange artists from Ukwanda and HOBT).

MDP Update

2017 Field Experiences

As part of the two-year MDP academic experience, all MDP students complete an international field experience, or practicum, in the summer following their first year of coursework. This summer, some of our students embarked on journeys through seven different countries: Belize, Costa Rica, Egypt, Guatemala, Haiti, Nepal, and Tanzania!

Field experiences provide student teams with practical, first-hand experience with sustainable development work, whether through field placements in ongoing projects, research, project development and evaluation, or strategic planning.

Field locations are typically in the global South but may also be in other regions or locations where development challenges align with program focus areas.  

An example of a field experience is the Haitian Sign Language Project.

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Private support plays a critical role in our mission of fostering an interdisciplinary and cross-cultural community of faculty and students committed to supporting and advancing research, education, and collaborative initiatives related to global change at the University of Minnesota and abroad through our international partners. Your gift will allow us to continue enriching student and scholar learning, faculty and staff research and teaching, as well as engagement and support. We invite you to join us in supporting students committed to global social justice.

You may make a gift today with a credit card or make a pledge for a future gift by visiting the University of Minnesota Foundation's secure website. You will also find information on how to mail a check, if you prefer. All gifts will support the ICGC Director's Fund, which helps promote and enhance the mission and work of ICGC.