MAIS Students Present their Research at this year’s ISA West Conference in Pasadena, CA

ISA-West, a regional division of the International Studies Association, held its annual conference in September 2017 in Pasadena, California. ISA-West brings together students, faculty, and scholars from around the region, the U.S., and the world to present their research and discuss global issues. This year, with generous assistance from the Rue W. Ziegler Scholarship Fund, two MAIS students presented their Capstone work. Jessica Tran presented her paper entitled “Increasing US militarization of the Asa-Pacific region and its impacts on regional stability from a critical security perspective”. Tristan Burger presented her research project “Small Arms: An Applied Approach to Children in Armed Conflict Prevention Initiatives”. Below, Jessica shares her experience:

After conducting preliminary research on my thesis project throughout the summer, I had the opportunity to share my work at the ISA West Annual Conference in Pasadena, California. Presenting in a panel on U.S. Foreign Policy and International Conflict, I was excited to share my thesis project and gain valuable feedback from peers and established scholars.

Not only did I receive constructive responses for my project, but I also had the opportunity to connect with many scholars whose area of expertise relate to my academic interests. I met my rockstar, J. Ann Tickner, whose tremendous work in Feminist IR and critical security studies inspired me to think more critically about the analytical approach to my project. I engaged in a lively discussion with IR Professor Sanjoy Banerjee on China’s security infrastructure; he promised we could stay in touch and provide guidance on the case study portion of my project.

Additionally, David Lake—the discussant for my panel—offered considerable support to myself and other panelists, including extending the discussion of our papers and general career advice over coffee. These interactions were truly the highlight of the trip. I enjoyed sharing and discussing IS ideas, but the immense support of the IS community in developing emerging scholars was what really blew me away. I left tremendously encouraged with not only my thesis project but also the prospects for life after MAIS.

In participating in the conference, I faced a lot of personal fears—fear of public speaking, fear of presenting my ideas to the world, and fear of rejection. I can’t say I’ve been completely cured of these insecurities, but I’m grateful for the experience to tackle it head on and come out the other side a bit more confident and determined.

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Rue W. Ziegler Fellowship: Megan Clemens

 

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Megan:

This summer I was fortunate enough to conduct my master’s thesis research near the Kimana Gate of Amboseli National Park. Amboseli is located in the southern part of Kenya, near the Tanzanian border and Mount Kilimanjaro. The Amboseli ecosystem is located in Maasailand, with many traditional Maasai communities still inhabiting the area. The Amboseli ecosystem is also part of a large migratory route that wildlife use to access corridors between Amboseli, Serengeti, Maasai Mara and Tsavo National Parks. Amboseli is quite small as a park, but the ecosystem sustains approximately 1,600 elephants while the park only holds enough resources for around 100 elephants at one time. As a result, the lands and corridors between these national parks hold so much value for both the wildlife and the local communities. As a result, community-based initiatives have been implemented to encourage and incentivize community members to adhere to conservation policies, and also offset costs from human-wildlife conflict.

My research goal was to study how community-based conservation initiatives impacted the local communities, paying specific attention to the gendered dimensions of these initiatives. My main research objective lies in the gendered impacts of community-based conservation initiatives because these initiatives tend to assume communities as one unit, rather than recognizing sub-groups within communities have different needs. More specifically, the Maasai are a patriarchal society that traditionally has many customs based on gender inequalities. So, I was curious to see— Was anyone benefitting? Did some benefit more than others? If the communities were receiving benefits did both genders benefit equally? Were there barriers limiting who could benefit? To find answers to these questions, I conducted interviews with Maasai men and women, as well as conservation NGO employees.

One of the most common benefits mentioned by the Maasai community members I interviewed were school “bursaries”. The “bursaries” are checks that help pay for local kids’ tuition for secondary school. Bursaries are funds that are created through shared park revenue policies. A portion of every park entrance fee goes into this fund. However, many times the checks or bursaries do not cover the costs of a semester for one child in secondary school. It surprised me that so many members of the Maasai communities who were receiving these bursaries considered them a benefit from the park, but also recognized that it wasn’t truly enough to cover the costs of an education. Additionally, the benefits of the school bursaries were even harder to access for girls because of the existence of female genital mutilation, child marriages, and marriage dowries. Often because of these barriers, families use the limited funds they have to send their sons to secondary school.  

My advice for students wanting to conduct fieldwork abroad is first and foremost, do it! Secondly, I would say start planning and coordinating with your advisor as soon as you can because there is a lot of logistics that go into planning your work abroad. For students who are thinking that they want to go abroad for research, but may not have an advisor— reach out to department faculty and start having those conversations. Once out in the field, enjoy your time there and take notes on everything!

Congratulations Fall 2016 Graduates!

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The International Studies department would like to congratulate all of our Fall 2016 graduates! This is our favorite and least favorite part of year as we love to celebrate your accomplishments as International Studies students but are sad to see you leave us. We’re so proud of you, and we can’t wait to see what you do to Change the World From Here (and There and Everywhere)!

B.A. in International Studies graduates

Noor Tarik Al Haidary Melinda Bernard David Chavez
David Garrett Kendall Kincaid Nabila Maharani
Hoang Minh Nguyen Macie Roorda

M.A. in International Studies graduates

Fardowsa Abdullahi Azamat Baiyzbekov Keith Baskerville
Belguun Bat-Erdene Daniela Carina Bermudez Nicole Campos
Andrew Chen Tala Dayyat Cristina Del Puerto
Brian Dexter Isabel Cristina Duarte Vasquez Dakota Floyd
Narek Ghazaryan Briawna Gillespie Deeti Gupta
Marianne Hoeidal Sarai Anne Ikenze Rida Kazmi
Marcus Littman Magdalena Martinez Francesca Mateo
Chalwe Mwansa Yu Namie John Paul Posis
Audrey Purnama Fabiola Ramirez Tavui Harley Roe
Meron Semedar Anna Takkenberg Tengxiang Xu
Joseph Young Jose Zacarias

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New Courses for Spring 2017

Are you ready for registration for next semester? International Studies is excited to announce our new courses for Spring 2017! Stay tuned to myUSF for the release of the full course schedule for spring to get all the details about class times and locations.

Undergraduate Courses

  • BAIS 390-01: Conflict Resolution and Mediation
    Prof. Laleh Shahideh

    Conflicts occur when there is a gap between mutual understandings, whether between individuals, groups, or states. This course will examine why these gaps arise, and how to diminish them before they escalate to dangerous levels – whether that is a fist-fight, legal battle, or war. Students will explore conflict and mediation from both traditional and emerging perspectives by studying peace-building attempts and using examples from local and global situations. In particular, this course will examine the different ways language can be interpreted and how the power of language can influence outcomes. Students will gain a better understanding of their own conflict styles; how to successfully approach conflict on different levels; and, how to anticipate, prevent and de-escalate spiraling conflict situations both within their own communities and on a global scale.
  • BAIS 390-02: The WTO, World Bank, and IMF: International Financial Organizations, Global Politics, and Development
    Prof. Sana Onayeva

    The aim of this course is to introduce students to the activities and role of international financial organizations like the World Trade Organization, World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund, as well as regional organizations, in global politics and development. The course will introduce students to structures and functions of these global financial organizations, as well as the fundamentals of international trade, investments, and their relationship to global politics. It will also address the key issues and challenges in international trade and global finance that are faced by advanced countries, developing countries, and post-communist states. Furthermore, the interdependence of domestic economies will be examined through a prism of the world financial crises that have resulted in rethinking and redesigning the system of international financial institutions. Finally, the course will cover the alternative dispute resolution and other mechanisms that States and other international actors use in resolving transnational disputes.

Joint Undergraduate/Graduate Course

  • BAIS 390-03/MAIS 690-04: Human Rights Advocacy Skills
    Prof. Dana Zartner
    This 2-unit course will provide upper division undergraduate and graduate students with grounding in some of the key skills used in advocacy, non-profit, and NGO work. With a particular focus on human rights, students will discuss the role and purpose of advocacy for instituting change. Students will spend most of the semester working on individual and group projects to develop skills in grant writing, budgets, advocacy plans, law and policy advocacy, targeted writing and speaking, and visual and social media advocacy. This course will require a series of short, practical assignments that students will compile into an e-Portfolio that can be used when applying for jobs and internships.

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Graduate Courses

All MAIS students select two electives, in addition to enrolling in one section of Research Methods & Thesis Writing.

  • MAIS 690-01: Global Food and Water Security
    Prof. Brian Dowd-Uribe
    Food and water insecurity are two of the biggest challenges facing humanity in the 21st century. The goal of this class is to study the actors and approaches to address these challenges particularly as they relate to justice and sustainability. Our survey of actors and approaches is rooted in a historical analysis of how food and water security have been addressed in the past, and how contemporary efforts are shaped by neoliberal economic reforms, climate change, consumption patterns, technologies, institutions, social movements, geographies and geopolitics. We will explore specific case studies from Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America. A particular focus of this class will be on formulating strategies to address these challenges.
  • MAIS 611-01: Development & the Environment
    Prof. Christopher Loperena
    What is development? What are the key ideas underlying development practice? How have contemporary global phenomena—neoliberalism, climate change, and urbanization—reconfigured the aims of development? Ideas about how to “do” development rest on a number of assumptions that have their roots in both contemporary and historical economic thinking. These ideas profoundly shape the policies and practice of international financial institutions, such as the IMF and the World Bank, thereby creating particular kinds of policy priorities. Evaluation of development policies and programs often tend to operate within these existing paradigms, rather than asking the larger question: Why is it that we do what we do? This seminar will look at the field of development studies from an interdisciplinary perspective and evaluate the kinds of policies that have been pursued by governments, agencies and practitioners in the pursuit economic growth, poverty reduction, and climate change mitigation.
  • MAIS 612-01: Politics of Conflict and Peace
    Prof. Stephen Zunes
    This seminar explores the political, economic, social and environmental factors associated with transnational conflicts and assesses different approaches to conflict resolution and conflict transformation. Readings will include both theoretical approaches and a number of case studies. Each week, students will write short reflections on the readings and discuss the material covered in a seminar format, interspersed with occasional short lectures by the instructor.
  • MAIS 690-02: Refugees, Forced Migration, and Displacement
    Prof. Lindsay Gifford
    This class will broadly examine issues related to refugees, forced migration and displacement from a global perspective. We study the rights of refugees in international law and the institutional structures that have been developed to address refugee and related issues. We examine issues surrounding urban refugees, camps, protracted refugee situations, stateless and displaced persons and intensifying conditions of economic and environmental displacement driven by climate change. We take a critical perspective on refugee and forced migration studies, examining the contours of identity in displacement, refugee agency and activism, the efficacy of so-called “durable solutions,” and the realities of resettlement in countries of the Global North. We also discuss research ethics and practice in working with populations who have experienced trauma and displacement.
  • MAIS 690-03: Infrastructure as Ethics
    Prof. Lucia Cantero
    This course will look at infrastructural projects throughout the globe to consider the relationship between built environment and political economy. The readings will survey the spatial politics of institutions like shopping malls and gentrification in urban spaces, global development and mega-events like the Olympics and the World Cup, a politics of patrimony via UNESCO heritage conservation projects, competing politics around energy and resources like oil, water pumps and rationing, hydroelectric dams. We will also consider everyday media, the internet and advertising as a form of soft infrastructure for the circulation of visual culture to think about the politics of consumer culture.
  • LAW 700: Comparative Law and Judicial Systems
    Prof. Dana Zartner
    This course is being offered by Professor Zartner through the law school. Only MAIS students who are writing their Thesis or Applied Project on a topic incorporating comparative legal issues will be eligible to take this course as one of their electives. If you are interested, please contact Professor Zartner.
    This seminar explores the relationship between different cultural and historical conceptions of law, the legal institutions which develop from these cultures and histories, and how this development shapes both domestic and international legal policies of states in the world today. Law maintains a central role in every society in the world and the best ideas are often not fully possible until supported by law and policy. Yet, law and policy don’t often fulfill their aims in protecting rights, promoting justice, and maintaining order. In this seminar, we will address these issues, with a focus on understanding how institutional and cultural differences concerning the law have an impact on individuals, groups, and states themselves. In the end, this course will give you a better understanding of different legal traditions, which can greatly facilitate working with people around the world.

Staff Friday: Amanda Mitchell

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

amanda-blogAmanda Mitchell is the Program Assistant for the MAIS program within the International Studies Department. Amanda is a Northern California Native and received her BA from USF in Theology and Religious Studies with a minor in Public Service and Community Engagement. During her undergraduate degree, Amanda found contemplative practices in all religious traditions to be fascinating and specifically studied the role of spirituality in social movements. Her BA thesis focus on Feminist, Indecent, and Liberation theologies and was titled, “Rebels of Normality, Revolutionaries of Theology: An Analysis of the Efficacy of Divine Love in the Movement of Liberation Through the Methodologies of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Marcella Althaus-Reid”. Amanda had the longest title in her major and was quite pleased with that accomplishment.

While at USF, Amanda worked as an Advocate for Community Engagement (ACE) and managed collaborative partnerships with organizations to facilitate service-learning experiences. As an ACE, Amanda worked with a nonprofit after school enrichment program in the Western Addition for disadvantaged youth called Magic Zone. She later work with Upward Bound and supported local High School students create pathways to college who were first-generation or low-income.

Wanting to gain an international perspective on community engagement, Amanda became the first Global ACE Fellow in the Casa Bayanihan program located in the Philippines, attending Ateneo de Manila. During her time in the Philippines, Amanda also work at L’Arche Punla, an international federation of homes for the developmentally disabled. At L’Arche, Amanda learned more from the amazing individuals who lived there than in any other environment she has encountered. She also got very good at making paper products out of grass while working with the core members in their livelihood workshop.

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Amanda is also passionate about advocating for the rehabilitation of incarcerated populations and spent 4 years volunteering in the San Francisco Juvenile Hall counseling incarcerated youth. After graduating from USF, Amanda participated in a fellowship in Sacramento and worked at the Board of State and Community Corrections (BSCC). At the BSCC, she worked with the Facilities Standards and Operations division and assisted the team with the inspection process for California juvenile hall facilities and county jails. Though she enjoyed her fellowship, Amanda was ready to move back to San Francisco which lead her current position in the International Studies Department.

amanda-blog-3In her spare time, Amanda enjoys gardening, cooking authentic Mexican food, and long-boarding through Golden Gate Park. One of her many hobbies includes building things and up-cycling furniture. She and her father are in the process of starting a business for woodwork and tiny homes. Lastly, Amanda’s spirit animal is a Golden Retriever and she identifies as a Golden Retriever/ all dogs enthusiast!

MAIS Internship Spotlight: Briawna Gillespie (’16)

This week, we’re chatting with MAIS student, Briawna Gillespie, about how she completed her internship requirement this summer.

20160706_140948Q: Where were you interning this summer?
This summer, I had the pleasure of having two internships. The first was with the Women’s Institute for Freedom of the Press (WIFP), a women’s organization that works so women in media have the freedom to express their opinions on issues they care about. The other was with Global Woman P.E.A.C.E. Foundation, an organization that helps to promote awareness and provide education to the public about female genital mutilation.

Q: What sort of work were you responsible for at each internship?
At WIFP, I took on a multitude of tasks. I was responsible for updating directories, helping organize events, and a few other interns and I worked together to design whole new logos and creative flyers to re-label the brand. I also attended a series of events all around the city for WIPF.

For Global P.E.A.C.E., I was primarily in charge of finding grants and brainstorming ideas for events. I was given an amazing opportunity to design a social media campaign for the organization to raise awareness about female genital mutilation. I had to come up with a budget, slogan, branding, and a litany of other details in order to bring this campaign to life.

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Q: Are there accomplishments that you are particularly proud of?
Definitely. At WIFP, the most important thing I accomplished was a presentation I gave in front of a large group of students, authors, and government representatives who were just as excited to learn about issues that women face in media.

The social media campaign I mentioned for Global P.E.A.C.E was ultimately very rewarding as well. As a result of my efforts and dedication, the president of the organization loved my ideas. Currently, the president is in the process of pitching that campaign to the board of directors so it can be launched and active by 2017.

Q: After working at these organizations, what have you gained from those experiences?
These two internships have allowed me to complete things that I never thought I would do, and ultimately allowed me to grow professionally. With enthusiasm and determined effort, I was able to bring my visions as an intern to life. Plus, the friendships and connections that I’ve made this summer were absolutely amazing, and those are definitely experiences that I will carry with me for the rest of my life and future career.

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Alumni Spotlight: Jonathan Fein (MAIS ’15)

On the day Jonathan Fein graduated from the MAIS program last December, he received a job offer from the International Rescue Committee to be a Citizenship and Financial Literacy specialist. In his position, he coordinates, manages and instructs future US citizens in preparation for their naturalization interview. Jonathan had interned with IRC last summer for the MAIS internship requirement, and they were eager to hire him back. While working for IRC, Jonathan has met and attended discussions with the Mayor of LA, Mayor of Glendale, and other leaders on topics of immigration and refugee resettlement in Southern California. Jonathan has recently been promoted to be the Citizenship and Financial Capability Coordinator, and he attributes his success at IRC-LA to the knowledge that he acquired while in the MAIS program, both in the classroom and working as a research assistant.

Over the last 7 months, Jonathan has participated in various refugee events and met SG Ban Ki Moon! He has also participated in the Los Angeles Asylum Collaborative as well as attend the LA Refugee Forum. Being one of two Spanish speakers in the office, Jonathan has been helping with the CAM-AOR program (Central American Minors Affidavit of Relationship program), working to resettle children from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, who are fleeing the violence in the region and whose parents are here in the US.

Keep up the great work, Jonathan!

MAIS in Action Spotlight: Alexander Hirata

“…USF was helping me grind the lens through which I view the world.”

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When I was 18, I took a gap year before my sophomore year of college. I volunteered as a 4th grade teacher on the island Yap, in the Federated States of Micronesia. I had a moving experience, and it sparked my passion for international aid and development.

I fed this desire throughout college by working as the Student Director of Missions at my university, where I sent students on volunteer assignments around the world. During my senior year, I realized I had barely bit into that field; there was far more to learn, and it was necessary for me to study it in order to participate ethically, unlike many of the aid organizations I’d witnessed doggedly pressing their own harmful agendas overseas.

I searched for a graduate program that would foster critical examination of this dubious world of international development, one that emphasized empowerment instead of trendy Western solutions. Thus, I enrolled in the Master of Arts in International Studies program at University of San Francisco, which embodied these criteria.

The MAIS program introduced me to a library of literature and theories of which I had no idea; my undergraduate degree is in creative writing, and I couldn’t believe such rich texts and meaningful concepts existed. I also learned skills I rely on regularly in my work, such as writing policy briefs and research outlines. I could not get enough.

The curriculum is well constructed, with subjects from one class complementing subjects from the others each week. We built off of challenging abstract theories: time-space distantiation, hegemony, transnationality, and more. These were difficult, but wrestling with them was worth it, as eventually I was able to link them and construct a framework of understanding, a language allowing me to enter the discourse. I realized what was happening, later: USF was helping me grind the lens through which I view the world.

My internship with Canvasback Missions allowed me to return my focus to Micronesia, and to the Marshall Islands, specifically. Making the Marshalls my cynosure provided a real-life case study for so many of the concepts I learned. Canvasback ended up sending me to the Marshall Islands as part of my internship, and that on-the-ground experience provided me with a tangible counterbalance to my readings.

Continue reading “MAIS in Action Spotlight: Alexander Hirata”

International Studies student & USF basketball player Kalyn Simon (BAIS ’16, MAIS ’17) shines on and off the court

We are so proud of our USF women’s basketball team for making the NCAA playoffs this year! We are especially proud of International Studies student Kalyn Simon for both her work with the team as well as her dedication to International Studies!

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Essay by Kalyn Simon

As child I grew up watching basketball. My cousins, Dad, Grandpa, and I would gather around the television yelling play by play as if we were actually sitting in the stands. The Warriors have always been a family favorite, however March was always a special time of the year. March Madness was when the best of the best competed for the national championship. The tournament was for both men’s and women’s teams so there were constantly games for us to watch. It was pure magic watching such talented and driven athletes preform at their prime in pursuit of the NCAA championship. Entering the “Big Dance” is an experience athletes dream about their entire collegiate careers. The conditioning sessions at six in the morning were all for the glory of cutting down the nets and playing under the big lights of the NCAA.

This year instead of yelling at the television screen, my family was yelling in the stands. Winning our West Coast Conference Championship was one of the most memorable and exciting experiences I have had. As the final buzzer sounded in Las Vegas our team sprinted out onto the court and embraced one another. Smiles engulfed each player’s, coach’s, and USF fan’s faces as confetti fell from the ceiling and we each kissed the enormous golden trophy. In this moment, I along with my amazing teammates was floating on cloud nine. The only thing better than cutting down the nets that day was the realization that we were “going dancing” or headed to participate in the NCAA tournament.

From that moment on I felt invincible. I received texts and emails from my professors from the International Studies department and the greater USF community. I felt so proud to be able to represent my major and my school. The next week we found out we would be playing against Stanford. We practiced and prepared the entire week for the upcoming opponent. We approached the game as any other, but in the background we could not help but smile. We smiled knowing that together through the blood, sweat, and tears we had finally reached the next level.

Kalyn Simon Fan Club

The outcome on the scoreboard at Stanford was not in our favor, but it is an experience I will cherish for a lifetime. I am blessed to have been able to play alongside teammates just as driven and talented as the ones I admired on television fifteen years ago. It was an experience built on the hard work and endless belief of in our staff and players who refused to give up. Just as I had imagined as a child, walking onto that court under the big lights was pure magic. However this is not the end. We will continue to fight until we end up on the winning end of the NCAA tournament, a tournament of champions.

1st Annual Restore Hope for Refugees Banquet

On March 31, the Multicultural Graduate Student Alliance (MGSA) hosted the 1st Annual Restore Hope for Refugees Banquet to raise funds for the Kayany Foundation to help build a classroom for Syrian refugees in Lebanon.

Several MAIS students are involved in the organization which partnered with USF ASAUSF Arab Student Union and USFCA Muslim Student Association to organize the fundraising event. The over 100 people in attendance enjoyed performances from ASWAT Bay Area Arabic Music Ensemble Group and the Shabab Al Quds Dabke Group plus special guests Bandar Shawwaf from the Friends of Kayany Inc and the talented Dima Khatib Managing Director of the Aj+ Global and her son Fares who recited Arab poetry.

The event raised $3,810 toward the $6,500 needed to cover the cost of a clean, safe, and climate-controlled classroom that accommodates up to 35 Syrian refugee children in an environment that foster’s education, empowerment, and healthy living. To contribute to this cause, you can donate by clicking here.

Special thanks to Old Jerusalem Restaurant for catering our banquet and all the organizations/businesses who donated items and funded this amazing event. This includes: University of San Francisco, the USF Graduate Student SenateUniversity of San Francisco School of Management, the Middle East Children’s AllianceJewish Voice for Peace, Sharif’s Jewelers, Sephora, LUSH Cosmetics, CREAM, King Kush Clothing Plus, Ashbury Tabaco, Costco Corporation, Samiramis Imports, Philz Coffee,Rumi Book Store, theAROC: Arab Resource & Organizing Center and the Arab Cultural & Community Center.