February 13, 2019
Amanda Nagy
Graphic of Global Issues Symposium text

Now in its fourth year, the Global Issues Symposium expands student learning beyond the international studies concentration.

Over the last four years, the Global Issues Symposium has exposed Oberlin students to international current affairs in historical depth by inviting a range of experts to cover important themes. Funded by an alumnus through the Isenberg Family Charitable Foundation, the symposium brings renowned scholars, policy practitioners, and activists to campus to discuss crucial transnational issues with the college and community.

This year’s theme, Militarization of Global Politics, Economy, and Society, features three former ambassadors in panel discussions. The monthlong programming begins with a keynote lecture on the topic of U.S. militarization on Friday, February 15. Rosa Brooks, professor of law at Georgetown University Law Center, will give a talk titled “How Everything Became War and the Military Became Everything: Tales from the Pentagon” at 4:30 p.m. in Craig Auditorium. Brooks is a former counselor to the under secretary of defense for policy.

Image of keynote speaker Rosa Brooks
Rosa Brooks, professor of law at Georgetown University Law Center

Other topics in the symposium include international law and constitutional dimensions; militarizing the Middle East and South Asia; militarizing East Asia; and militarizing Latin America.

The event organizers this year are Zeinab Abul-Magd, associate professor of history and chair of international studies; Kristina Mani, associate professor of politics and chair of Latin American studies; Sheila Miyoshi Jager, professor of East Asian studies; and Jiyul Kim, visiting assistant professor of history.

“We all conduct research and publish on issues of military institutions and armed conflicts in many regions,” explains Abul-Magd. “Under the Trump administration, we noticed increased militarization of U.S. domestic and foreign policy, which triggered us to adopt the theme for this year’s series of events.”

Abul-Magd says the breadth of speakers from various disciplines will appeal to a wide range of interests.

“Three of the 11 speakers are former ambassadors, in addition to law scholars, think-tank political experts, historians, and more. They come from different countries, including the United Kingdom, Venezuela, Mexico, Chile, Pakistan, and Iran. They will cover a vast geographical areas that should appeal to the interest of different students.”

A panel discussion Thursday, March 7, includes Kathleen Stephens, former ambassador to South Korea from 2008 to 2011. After her retirement, she was a research fellow with Stanford University’s Asia-Pacific Research Center, and last fall, she became the president and CEO of the Korea Economic Institute, a think tank in Washington, D.C., that focuses on U.S.-South Korean relations and the South Korean political economy.  

Stephens is also scheduled to give a talk 10 a.m. Friday, March 8, in Nancy Schrom Dye Lecture Hall, in which she will discuss her career as a diplomat and the state of relations between the United States, South Korea, and North Korea. Her visit immediately follows the second U.S.-North Korea summit, which will be held February 27-28 in Vietnam.

The goal of the Global Issues Symposium is to encourage more students to seek semesters and winter terms abroad, as well as internships in international communities. Abul-Magd adds that the symposia “have drawn more students to declare an international studies concentration.”

View the complete list of speakers .

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