Securing the Future through Faculty Research: Emerging Asian Megacities

It is normal when the sound of Karachi surprises a man crossing McAllister Street to catch a 5R bus to Ocean Beach. It is very normal when a veteran customer service agent at the San Francisco International Airport desk asks, “Where’s this?” staring at your boarding pass!

In other parts of the world, cities like Karachi may remain unknown in 2018; fast forward to the mid-century, and they are megacities. Demographic studies project that by 2050, there will be 2.3 billion more people living in urban areas. The majority of this population will be from Asia and Africa. Needless to say, they will be living in Asian and African cities.

Continue reading “Securing the Future through Faculty Research: Emerging Asian Megacities”


Welcome to Academic Year 2018/2019!

As the incoming Chair of the International Studies Department, I want to take this opportunity to welcome new and returning students (and faculty and staff) to the 2018/2019 academic year at USF. It is an exhilarating moment for our department because of many new developments that are bubbling up all around us.

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International Studies Department Summer Update: Answering the Question Everyone Asks – What Do Faculty Do in the Summer?

Ball and Church - Copy

It is hard to believe it is August 2 already! New student orientation is only a couple weeks away and classes begin on August 21. We hope you have all been having a wonderful summer and we can’t wait to hear all about your adventures around the world! We have BAIS and MAIS students that have traveled across the globe for research, internships, and fun this summer, including to France, Senegal, Germany, Turkey, Mexico, Ghana, Columbia, and India, among many other places.

Our faculty, too, have been busy this summer working on their research and writing projects, traveling, enjoying time with family, and getting ready for the new school year. Below you will find brief snapshots of what some of our faculty have been up to. We look forward to seeing you all back on campus in a few weeks!

Continue reading “International Studies Department Summer Update: Answering the Question Everyone Asks – What Do Faculty Do in the Summer?”

Forum for Transnational Collaboration in the Visual Arts | November 17 & 18

By: Melissa Vonimary Sovik, MAIS ’18

On November 17 & 18, we are organizing the Forum for Transnational Collaboration in the Visual Arts with the objective of bringing together emerging voices from previously marginalized countries that are poised to become an essential part of the global conversation in contemporary art and institutions today. What traditionally used to be the art capitals of the world seems to be changing alongside a major shift in the world economy. We wish to create conversation on these topics and hope that it will promote a network of engagement among arts professionals.

Continue reading “Forum for Transnational Collaboration in the Visual Arts | November 17 & 18”

Working to Prepare our Students for the Future

A degree in International Studies provides the knowledge and skills employers in a variety of fields are looking for in those they hire. In the International Studies Department dana_with_map_2-3 (2)at USF we are always working to improve our curriculum to better serve our students to this end. Professor Dana Zartner, Chair of the International Studies Department, recently worked with members of four other International Studies programs around the country to brainstorm some best practices for creating success for our students. The results of their work were recently published in International Studies Perspectives, which is linked below. We’d love to hear from you – what other best practices can you think of?

Knowledge Skills and Preparing for the Future

Attending the United Nations SIDS Symposium: Climate Change, Development, and the Challenges of Small Island Developing Nations

In February 2017, Professor Dana Zartner, Chair of the International Studies Department, attended a symposium in Nassau, Bahamas sponsored by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs and the Government of the Bahamas. The symposium – entitled Implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the SAMOA Pathway in Small Island Developing States (SIDS): Equipping Public Institutions and Mobilizing Partnerships – focused on how SIDS can best integrate the 2030 Agenda and the corresponding SAMOA Pathway in national planning, policies, strategies and public institutions. Given their vulnerability to climate change coupled with development challenges, SIDS face special challenges in the coming years.  This Symposium brought together SIDS and key partners, including donor states, and created a form for discussion and collaboration on how best to equip public institutions and mobilize partnerships between international organizations, federal and local governments, civil society, corporations, and academia.

SIDS Symposium Header

The United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is a plan of action that encompasses people, the planet, and prosperity. Incorporating the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the 169 corresponding targets, the 2030 Agenda provides for a more holistic approach to sustainable development than the earlier Millennium Development goals. With the 2030 Agenda, member states of the UN and affiliated stakeholders recognize the eradication of poverty in all its forms is one of the greatest global challenges and an indispensable requirement for sustainable development. According to the document, with the 2030 Agenda UN members are “resolved to free the human race from the tyranny of poverty and want to heal and secure our planet.”   The 2030 Agenda is a key step forward in efforts to address issues such as sustainable development, climate change, poverty, and human rights because it recognizes the fundamental importance of the relationship between the natural world and health of our planet’s environment, and the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the right to development. This new approach is highlighted in the breadth of issues covered in the SDGs. Continue reading “Attending the United Nations SIDS Symposium: Climate Change, Development, and the Challenges of Small Island Developing Nations”

Faculty Friday: Brian Dowd-Uribe

Every Friday, the International Studies Department will profile one of our amazing faculty members so you can get to know them better and see all the amazing work our faculty do!

Brian Dowd-Uribe is an Assistant Professor in the International Studies Department. Brian grew in up in Sonoma County, California and decided to change scenery and head to UC San Diego, where he earned undergraduate degrees in Latin American Studies and Ecology, Behavior and Evolution.


As an undergraduate, Brian studied abroad twice to Costa Rica where he completed a senior thesis on different approaches to native forest regeneration in Monteverde, and got a crash course in salsa dancing. After leaving Costa Rica, he served for two years as a Peace Corps Volunteer in a small Kabiye village in northern Togo. While there he worked on multiple projects with local women’s cooperatives on soil fertility, income generation and fuelwood efficiency; he also took up a strong interest in locally brewed sorghum beer. Both the experiences in Costa Rica and West Africa led to a strong interest in rural livelihoods and how rural development intersects with the environment.

After a short two-year stint as a park ranger in South Los Angeles, Brian took up his graduate studies at UC Santa Cruz in Environmental Studies, where he earned his PhD in 2011. His dissertation explores the winners and losers of two of the most defining interventions affecting small-scale farmers in West Africa, the liberalization of agricultural commodity chains and the introduction of genetically modified crops. While conducting his dissertation research in Burkina Faso, he met his future wife, Kim, salsa dancing. Later, they lived together in the capital of Burkina Faso, Ouagadougou, and then traveled to Southeast Asia for several months where Brian wrote most of his dissertation.


After graduating, and marrying, Brian took a position as a Post-Doctoral Research Scientist at Columbia University’s Earth Institute. There he worked on two projects, one exploring the social and environmental dimensions of community gardens in East Harlem, and the other examining the linkages between participatory water governance, water security and food security in rural Burkina Faso. Brian continues to work on and publish from both projects. Before joining USF, Brian took a position at the UN-mandated University for Peace in Costa Rica, where he most recently served as Chair of the Department of Environment and Development. Brian’s work has been published in multiple academic journals and was recently featured by the BBC. A new edited book project examining Costa Rica’s attempt to negotiate environmental protection and development is under review at the University of Arizona Press.

tomas-nov-16 benja-4-months

While not grading papers or writing articles, Brian changes the diapers of his 5-month old son Benjamin, and plays trains and baseball with his 3.5-year-old son Tomás. He has a strong interest in everything outdoors – camping, hiking, etc. He also tries to keep up on a regular running regime, and periodically plays soccer for a ‘grown up’ team. Brian and his wife can often be spotted at a local café, sipping on coffee, and plotting their next international adventure.


Faculty Friday: Laleh Shahideh

Every Friday, the International Studies Department will profile one of our amazing faculty members so you can get to know them better and see all the amazing work our faculty do!


Laleh Shahideh is an Assistant Professor in the Department of International Studies at USF.  Prof. Shahideh was born in Tehran, Iran. She pursued her undergraduate studies and lived in Rome for 9 years, where she obtained her Bachelor of Arts degree in Architectural Design from the Academia di Belle Arti di Roma, with a specialization in Interior Architecture from Centro Europeo di Roma.  Soon after the 1978-79 Islamic Revolution in Iran, she returned to her homeland where she redirected her interest and energy by joining the Italian Foreign Ministry in Tehran. This unique professional experience and early exposure to complex foreign diplomacy, immigration issues, and international affairs and relations ignited a dormant desire in her to examine the world from a new perspective.  After living through the Iran/Iraq war for six years, she immigrated to San Francisco and started her career at USF, where she obtained her Master’s degree in Public Administration with an emphasis in Health Administration, and a doctorate in Organization and Leadership, with an emphasis in Pacific Leadership International Studies.

At the beginning of the Fall 2016 semester, she returned to the faculty after two decades working in leadership positions with USF’s Student Academic Services, including her final position as Associate Vice Provost and Dean of Student Academic Services.  Throughout the past 20 years, she skillfully resolved thousands of crisis and complex negotiations and grievances. Thus, there is no surprise for her excitement in having the opportunity to combine the two main areas of her passion into one by sharing – with the students – her knowledge and specialization in crisis intervention, conflict resolution, and mediation in the classroom.

Her personal background and professional experiences have provided her with an exceptionally rich knowledge of cultures in the broader middle east, especially Iran, as well as Europe and the United States.

Prof. Shahideh’s research interests – grounded in the critical hermeneutics theories – include:

  • The role of narrative in global politics.
  • Immigrants’ notions of double identity and belonging: “Being in the World”.
  • The importance of empathy in international relations.
  • The relationship between understanding of power and capacity to act.

As a Fulbright scholar she compared educational systems in the member states of the European Union, especially Germany, and the United States to identify common challenges and best practices.   Professor Shahideh will continue to serve as the faculty adviser for the Persian Iranian Student Club at USF. Shahideh’s additional interests include: The role of historical memory in shaping Iranians’ notion of identity; the place of Iranian women in the Middle East; art in Iran: a medium and not a representational tool. Her book The Power of Iranian Narratives: A Thousand Years of Healing was published by the University Press of America in 2004.


A personal note to the students:  I am delighted and look forward to the opportunity to develop and share an exciting learning experience with you in the classroom.  My personal life experiences and professional and educational background have granted me the fortune and the ability to borrow from a multi-disciplinary array of studies and theoretical frameworks that will help us examine challenges and complexities within international studies and relations.  Having lived through a war, immigrated to two new continents, and having had the privilege to listen to thousands of life stories involving complex and diverse issues, have provided me with a unique perspective and appreciation for the level of complexities within human beings. In order to establish harmonious and healthy relationships, we ought to have healthy environments that are nourishing and tolerant of our needs and our differences.  The world does not suffer because of our differences, rather, the separations and sufferings we witness in the world today are caused by the lack of understanding of our commonalities and our interconnectedness.  I believe the remedy is simple. In fact, it is an ancient one:  Finding love and compassion for Self and Others.

laleh-photo-2My personal interests are: The importance of narrative and learning new languages (I am fluent in Farsi, English, and Italian). I have a strong connection with animals; am a huge fan of soccer; enjoy photography and long walks in nature; practice Pilates and meditation daily; find my “moment of quiet” while swimming; admire good story telling and writing; am a savvy reader; love to cook and enjoy high quality cuisine; am an admirer of art in all forms, love Italian songs and travelling to new places, and love comedies (e.g.; Seinfeld).   I consider my friends and family to be the greatest source of my happiness (particularly, my grandniece (7) and grandnephew (3) who live in Berlin; like my own grandchildren).  Now that I have a more flexible schedule, I am actualizing a long dream of adopting a dog.  Stay tuned, coming soon!  I believe the most difficult, yet rewarding, thing I have accomplished in life is getting to know myself.  I am excited about the new phase of my journey and the new opportunities for self-discovery and rediscovery. Most importantly, I am looking forward to the reciprocal learning experience with my students in the classroom. 

Faculty Friday: John Zarobell

Every Friday, the International Studies Department will profile one of our amazing faculty members so you can get to know them better and see all the amazing work our faculty do!

John at a waterfall in Idaho

John Zarobell is Assistant Professor and Undergraduate Director in the International Studies Department at USF. He studied Studio Art at Hampshire College as an undergraduate and received an MA and PhD History of Art from the University of California at Berkeley.

After a couple of years of teaching at Stanford University, Tulane University and Loyola University, New Orleans, he accepted a position as a curator of European Painting at the Philadelphia Museum of Art where he worked for six years before moving to San Francisco and taking a similar position in the Painting and Sculpture Department at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. While curating blockbuster and international exhibitions, he published his first book in 2010, Empire of Landscape: Space and Ideology in French Colonial Algeria, 1830-1870. During that period he wrote for academic journals, such as Art History and Nineteenth-Century Art Worldwide and also began writing art criticism for San Francisco-based art periodicals Art Practical and the San Francisco Arts Quarterly.

John’s exhibition Postcolonial Contemporary at Incline Gallery, 2016

He began teaching in the undergraduate International Studies program (BAIS) in 2011. This interdisciplinary program required him to reframe his body of knowledge and work in between disciplines rather than focusing on art history. That was a welcome change since he had long pursued interdisciplinary research, focusing on issues such as colonialism, cultural and economic history, and geography. He shortly began a research project, titled Art and the Global Economy, that considers how globalization has affected the art world in the last generation, considering primarily institutions, exhibition platforms and the market for contemporary art. His particular interest is to demonstrate the multiple directions of cultural flows as a result of globalization and to circumscribe a counter-hegemonic dimension of the current art world in which formerly peripheral countries are coming to greater prominence and altering its future dynamics. This research has taken him to art events around the world and will be published by University of California Press in 2017. His next projects will be an exhibition on the art developed in emerging Asian megacities as well as a global study of artist collectives.

John with artist Shahzia Sikander in Lahore, Pakistan, 2014

Since coming to USF five years ago, Professor Zarobell has taught sixteen different classes and worked with undergraduates and graduate students in the International Studies department, and also in Museum Studies, Art History and Urban Studies. His areas of interest are global history and globalization, colonialism and imperialism, modern and contemporary art, migration, urban studies, and European studies. He also teaches an International Studies internship for the undergraduates and advises students on getting internships and professional development more generally. He is on the Jobs and Internships Task Force convened by the Career Services Center and so he follows closely the university’s efforts to prepare students for life after college. In his free time, he attends art openings and performances, curates exhibitions in nonprofit galleries, and hikes in the mountains. He no longer makes art but believes that participating in the global conversation about art through his writing will serve not only artists and arts institutions, but will help to promote a richer and more culturally diverse world.

Faculty Friday: Annick T.R. Wibben

Every Friday, the International Studies Department will profile one of our amazing faculty members so you can get to know them better and see all the amazing work our faculty do!


Annick T. R. Wibben is Professor of Politics and International Studies at the University of San Francisco, where she also directs the Peace & Justice Studies program. Originally from Hamburg (Germany), Prof. Wibben went to a bilingual French-German High School and got her Vordiplom in Economics from the University of Hamburg, where she also completed a French specialist language program. She then moved to Finland to study International Relations and European Studies at the University of Tampere. After receiving her Masters of Social Science, she moved again – this time to the small seaside town of Aberystwyth, Wales (UK), where she received here Ph.D. from the oldest Department of International Politics in the world. Fortunately, as a scholar of global politics, she continues to have the opportunity travel around the world to present her work or teach specialized courses.

Before joining the USF faculty in 2005 – indeed, even before she finished her Ph.D., she worked as co-Investigator (with James Der Derian) of the Information Technology, War and Peace Project at the Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University. She arrived in Providence, Rhode Island, a few weeks before September 11, 2001 and spent much of the first year at the Watson Institute working on rapid analysis of the events of 9/11 – curating an award-winning website which you should check out: During her time on the East Coast, she also taught at Brown University and Bryant University as well as at Wellesley College where she was a Visiting Assistant Professor. During the fall 2003 semester she was a Rockefeller Humanities Fellow with the National Council for Research on Women and the Center for the Study of Women and Society at the CUNY Graduate Center in in New York City.

Her research straddles critical security and military studies, international theory, and feminist international relations. She also has a keen interest in questions of methodology, representation, and writing. Her current research reflects these varied interests, though she is most frequently associated with the field of Feminist Security Studies, which is the subject of a (free) special virtual issue of Security Dialogue on “A Decade of Feminist Security Studies Revisited” (with Maria Stern). More recently, she has also become involved in debates about feminist foreign (and security) policy, engaging in some non-academic debates also (e.g. “The Value of Feminist Scholarship on SecurityTurkish Weekly, 8 March 2016). Having been interviewed by Swedish National Radio in December 2014 on her research, she has continued to work in this area, leading a webinar on the same topic for the Women’s International League for Peace & Freedom (check it out!).


She has published two books: Feminist Security Studies: A Narrative Approach (2011), which uses 9/11 as a case study to lay out how the way in which dominant security narratives frame events limits our imagination and precludes more creative approaches to address violence, and Researching War: Feminist Methods, Ethics & Politics (2016), an edited collection which showcases the difference that feminist approaches to studying war make in what we can see and how we can move beyond war. Her current research examines the varied experiences of women who have served in the U.S. military during the ‘Global War on Terror’ – here she is interested in connecting servicewomen’s everyday experiences to broader debates about the U.S. military (such as the decision to open all combat positions to women) as well as the deep militarization of U.S. society and its global effects.

As an immigrant, Prof. Wibben is dedicated to learning as much as possible about her adopted home – and to stand in solidarity with its most marginalized communities. This means that she is reading as much as she can about the settler colonial history of the U.S. (and she thinks you should too – you e.g. Roxanne Dunbar Ortiz’ An Indigenous Peoples History of the United States) as well as the native peoples who survived the genocide and still care for the land today (check out the Sogorea Te’ Land Trust initiative here in the Bay Area). She also thinks that #BlackLivesMatter and tries to not only learn more about the continuing impacts of slavery, which find its expression in the unique racialization of U.S. society, but to connect it to the global inequalities that she teaches about.

When she’s not busy with all of the above, Prof. Wibben can be found crossing town with her kids for their various activities, going for walks at Ocean Beach (especially when its foggy & windy, because that reminds her of home), or enjoying a coffee somewhere – preferably in her own back yard so she can check on how things are growing. She is often joined here by her cat, Coco, who loves all things academic (it’s an academicat!).