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Celebrating Ladino culture and language

The University of Washington Sephardic Studies Program will host its third annual International Ladino Day, celebrating Sephardic language and culture, in a free event at 4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 6, in Room 130 of Kane Hall. The event will be followed by a kosher reception.

This year’s featured speakers are members of Los Ladineros, a long-running local Ladino conversation group, and scholars Julia Phillips Cohen of Vanderbilt University and Sarah Abrevaya Stein of the University of California, Los Angeles, who is a former faculty member of the UW History Department. Cohen and Stein’s anthology “Sephardic Lives” won the 2014 National Jewish Book Award.

Read more from UW Today…

Slovenian Prime Minister visits campus

Prime Minister Miro Cerar of the Republic of Slovenia met with University of Washington President Ana Mari Cauce at the University of Washington on December 4, 2015 to express interest in sustained collaboration between the UW and academic institutions in Slovenia.

Vice Provost for Global Affairs Jeffrey Riedinger and UW President Ana Mari Cauce in discussion with Prime Minister of the Republic of Slovenia Dr. Miro Cerar
Vice Provost for Global Affairs Jeffrey Riedinger and UW President Ana Mari Cauce in discussion with Prime Minister of the Republic of Slovenia Dr. Miro Cerar Photo: Piotr Horoszowski

The Slovene Prime Minister was accompanied by His Excellency Ambassador Božo Cerar, Slovene Ambassador to the U.S., Slovene Deputy Prime Minister Boris Koprivnikar, and other Slovene government officials. UW Vice Provost for Global Affairs Jeffrey Riedinger, Vice Provost for Digital Initiatives and Dean of Libraries Betsy Wilson, Divisional Dean for Humanities Michael Shapiro, Professor and Chair of Slavic Languages Katarzyna Dziwirek, Professor of Law Louis Wolcher, and Professor of Slavic Languages Michael Biggins also participated in the discussion.

Prime Minister Cerar praised the long-term impacts of the UW-University of Ljubljana Faculty Exchange, which has been in existence since 1979. He and President Cauce also discussed an initiative already underway at the UW to create an academic program in interdisciplinary Slovene studies, which would serve students at the UW and around the U.S. via distance learning.

UW graduate students working in Slovene studies, UW post-doctoral researchers from Slovenia, and two UW undergraduates recruited from Slovenia to compete as part of the UW men’s rowing team greeted the Slovene delegation at Gerberding Hall.

See photos documenting the visit courtesy of Piotr Horoszowski

This was the first visit by a Slovene prime minister to the UW and took place as part of a larger Slovene trade delegation tour of five major U.S. IT hubs. Former Slovene Ambassador to the U.S. Samo Žbogar visited UW twice during his tenure, delivering a talk during a 2007 visit to a hundred students at the Jackson School of International Studies.

Michael Biggins

Nov. 24: Paris roundtable with UW faculty

Join UW faculty on Tuesday, Nov. 24 for a roundtable discussion on “Paris II: Making Sense of the World” in Thomson Hall 101 at 7 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.

More details from the Jackson School of International Studies… 

Panelists for this event include:

Daniel Chirot, Herbert J. Ellison Professor of Russian and Eurasian Studies

Kathie Friedman, Associate Professor, Jackson School of International Studies

Ray Jonas, Colonel Donald W. Wiethuechter, USA Ret., Endowed Faculty Fellow in History

Reşat Kasaba, Stanley D. Golub Chair of International Studies; and Director, Jackson School of International Studies

Anand Yang, moderator; Chair, Department of History; and Tamaki Professor, International Studies

Presented by The Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies, the Department of History, the Center for Global Studies, the Center for West European Studies, the European Union Center of Excellence, and the Middle East Center. The Middle East Center’s sponsorship of this event does not imply that the Center endorses its content.


$16 million grant awarded to Jackson School centers

The U.S. Department of Education will fund all eight of the Jackson School of International Studies‘ Title VI centers with grants of more than $16 million.

The Department of Education’s Title VI awards were introduced to ensure sufficient foreign language training for U.S. security. Grants are awarded to institutions of higher education every four years to establish and strengthen language and area-studies centers for foreign language instruction, research in international studies and world affairs and community outreach and consultation.

Read more from UW Today… 

Carnegie Corp. funds Jackson School’s work tying international research to policy

The Jackson School of International Studies will split a five million dollar award aimed addressing the disconnect between global research with policymaking. Resat Kesaba, Director of the Jackson School of International Studies, says the award furthers the school’s current work. “We have worked with the companies and nonprofit organizations of the globally connected Pacific Northwest to address critical international challenges, and brought the results of this work to policy makers,” he says.

Read more from the Carnegie Corporation…

Read more from the Chronicle of Higher Education…

Michelle Obama praises UW student in Peking University speech

Philmon HaileFirst Lady Michelle Obama praised UW senior Philmon Haile during a recent speech at Peking University, quoting from his remarks at a Washington D.C. event celebrating President Obama’s 100,000 Strong initiative.

Philmon has studied abroad several times, interning at the US Embassy Beijing, conducting field research in rural China and volunteering in Jordan. He was recently awarded the Rangel Graduate Fellowship, which supports graduate study and professional development in preparation for a career in the Foreign Service.

Read First Lady Michelle Obama’s remarks…

‘Future of Ice’ initiative prepares students for leadership in the Arctic

Through the “Future of Ice” Initiative, the University of Washington is leveraging faculty expertise and making new investments to build a pipeline of thinkers, researchers and leaders focused on Arctic regional issues. Eight countries hold territory within the region, but a changing landscape due to rapidly melting sea ice is attracting attention from new international players. With its unique resources and interdisciplinary expertise related to the Arctic, UW is uniquely positioned it to make an impact through teaching, research and collaborative partnerships.

Undergraduates Garrett Knoll and Walter O’Toole and graduate student Erica Escajeda are three of a growing group of UW students preparing for diverse leadership roles in the changing Arctic.

Unique resources

Erica is first-year graduate student conducting thesis research on the Polar Bears of Baffin Island, Canada. UW offers her the opportunity to be mentored by outstanding faculty and participate in specialized research.

“What really drew me to the UW was Dr. Laidre’s research at the Polar Science Center. It’s an incredible resource, and the research is cutting edge.”

Without Dr. Lairdre’s connections in Canada and Greenland, she adds, “I would not be able to travel to the Arctic at all during the course of my master’s research due to funding constraints.”

Inuktitut language course
Walter O’Toole with fellow Inuktitut language student Caitlyn Evans and instructors Alexina Kublu and Prof. Mick Mallon Photo: Melanie Eng via Jackson School of International Studies

An English major, Walter is expanding his understanding of the Arctic by studying Inuktitut, an Inuit language spoken in tribal communities in the Canadian Arctic. He and one other student – a Foreign Language & Area Studies Fellow in Inuktitut and aspiring environmental lawyer – study with two instructors, a language expert and a native speaker from Canada.

“Inuktitut is quite different than any other class I’ve taken UW,” he says, “There are only two students, so that makes for a lot of interaction with our professors. It’s mostly done over Skype, which can be spotty at times, but without videoconferencing I wouldn’t even have the opportunity to learn Inuktitut. Both [instructors] are accomplished Inuktitut linguists.”

An interdisciplinary approach

Through UW’s “Future of Ice” course this winter quarter, led by instructors Nadine Fabbi and Eric Steig, Walter, Garrett and Erica are engaging with six Polar region experts, including scientists, political and indigenous leaders and wildlife photographers. Each guest provides a new and different perspective on changes facing northern regions.

“I really like how the class brings in the top people from a variety of fields all having to do with the Polar Regions,” Garrett explains,

“An interdisciplinary perspective is essential to a topic like the Arctic because it involves so many different fields and ways of thinking. You have to have a grasp on all of them in order to understand the whole picture.”

Erica Escajeda working in Nome, Alaska as a field technician
Erica Escajeda working in Nome, Alaska as a field technician Photo: Erica Escajeda

Erica is excited to broaden her knowledge of the political, cultural and scientific issues surrounding the Arctic. “Interdisciplinary courses like the ‘Future of Ice’ instill a deeper sense of collaboration, and hopefully inspire students to think outside of their fields. The lessons I’ve learned from the course are readily connected to my own research and career goals.”

Walter is pursuing the unique Arctic Studies minor jointly offered by the Jackson School of International Studies and the School of Oceanography. The interdisciplinary minor provides cultural, political and scientific perspectives on the rapidly changing region. “[My instructors’] enthusiasm for my studies in Inuktitut is wonderful; they each are incredibly knowledgeable in their fields, and they have been eager to share their knowledge with me, going out of their way to help me expand my awareness of the Arctic.”

Diverse directions

Walter plans to pursue graduate studies in English and make a career teaching and writing. “Through the Arctic Minor, I hope gain understanding of the context in which Arctic and Inuit literatures are created, an understanding that could enable me to teach in those areas.”

Garret Knoll at Polar Science Weekend
Garrett Knoll shows his exhibit to a young visitor at Polar Science Weekend Photo: Garrett Knoll

Erica’s career trajectory also points north. She is considering teaching or working as a research scientist and biological consultant on Arctic issues.

An Aquatic & Fisheries science major “hooked on Arctic Studies”, Garrett is using his science training to educate the public about a little known Arctic species, the Greenland shark. For his capstone project, Garrett designed an interactive game that teaches kids about the animal by inviting them to pick out plastic animals they think the shark would eat.

Garrett shared his game at the Pacific Science Center’s Polar Science Weekend. His dedication won’t stop there. “After I graduate I hope to get involved with outreach programs that get kids interested in science by taking them out into the field and showing them the incredible animals that inhabit our world.”

-Sara Stubbs

Alumna makes a global impact with Starbucks

As a Manager of Global Responsibility for Starbucks, Ann Burkhart ’90 ensures that the company’s international impact is positive. Her team develops strategies for the ethical sourcing of commodities from around the world. An international studies major at the University of Washington, Burkhart particularly values the writing and research skills she gained here. Read more from A&S Perspectives…