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Martin Forums | 2011-12

The Martin Forums for the 2011-2012 academic year included lectures by Daniel Drezner, Shadman Bashier and Bill Smith. The press release for the events are below.

Zombie Apocalypse Offers Framework for Understanding International Issues

Whereas guerrilla marketing comes at you from unexpected angles aiming to separate you from your money, zombie marketing lurches directly toward you and is pretty much interested only in your brain.

The tactic is so effective it has lately been deployed by venerable institutions like the Center for Disease Control.

Bill Smith, director of the Martin Institute and Programs in International Studies at the University of Idaho, also has found success with zombie marketing.

“For years I've wanted to teach a broad spectrum of students about how countries act and interact in the global system,” said Smith. “I wanted to bring in students from science, engineering, math, music, agriculture, sociology and other fields of study.”

“Ultimately, addressing global problems requires the engagement of folks from all corners of society and all fields of study,” Smith says. “If we can get a broad cross section of students used to speaking each other’s language, then we are that much better off.”

But when he offered honors seminars on global politics, they always filled up with international studies and political science majors. “So I proposed the Zombie Apocalypse and International Issues course,” he said. “It filled right up with all the students I wanted to attract.”

Students respond to a course that promises to speak the language of popular culture.

“The title of the class was basically the come-hither flag that then introduced me to more important and practical issues of how governments settle disagreements and create policy,” said Megan Licht, a bioscience major in the University Honors Program and current student in Zombies 404. “The class has helped me to see how world policies are made, enforced and most importantly, how they affect me.”

The mesmerizing horror/hilarity of zombie apocalypse provides a lens through which students can see the need for establishing global policies that allow nations to be proactive when international catastrophe happens.

“I think that the best part of taking a class like this is realizing that we really aren’t prepared, and that it’s our job, as up-and-coming citizens of the world, to change that,” said Licht.

Dan Drezner will present a Martin Forum titled, "Zombies and International Politics," at 7 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 3, in the SUB Ballroom. Drezner is the author of "Theories of International Politics and Zombies."

The Martin Forum presentation is free and open to the living.


By Donna Emert

The 2012 Martin Forum promises to provide participants an enlightening, insider's understanding of the cultural context and complex issues that shape international relations with the governments and people of the Afghanistan/Pakistan border region.

Shadman Bashir, originally from Pakistan, is an expert on the tribal areas of the Afghanistan/Pakistan border region. Bashir will present the 2012 Martin Forum, providing insights into the history, culture and politics of the volatile region.

Bashir's talk titled, “The Tribal Region of Afghanistan/Pakistan,” begins at 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 15 at the Law School Courtroom in the Menard College of Law building on the University of Idaho campus in Moscow. It is free and open to the public.

In his presentation, Bashir will explain the region, its key players and their respective goals and ambitions, and will discuss the value the region holds for those regional powers. Bashir also will provide a brief history of U.S. policy toward the region. Then, he will offer “step-by-step analyses of the mistakes, misunderstandings and mismanagement of current U.S. policy, and possible solutions."

“It's important to hear and take part in this discussion because it involves a region which has played a very important role in American policies since World War II,” said Bashir. “Today it's more important than ever to let go of the stereotypical picture of such regions, and try to understand them the way they really are. Only with proper understanding and clearly defined goals will the U.S. be able to achieve a favorable strategic outcome, which will not only be favorable for the U.S., but for the region as well."

It is vital that the US begin to understand the intricacies of the region, said Bill L. Smith, director of the Martin Institute and Program in International Studies.

“There may be no other region of the world which so challenges the American public and American policymakers in terms of why it is so difficult to accomplish social, economic, political, or military aims there,” said Smith. “This talk will help further our understanding of this complex region."

Bashir holds a master of laws (LL.M) in comparative law and serves as an adviser and consultant on law and International affairs. He speaks six languages and multiple dialects. His research, teaching and lecture experience include service as a research advisor to the International Center for Law and Religion Studies for the J. Ruben Clark Law School and as a consultant on the Woman States Project, both at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah.

He has taught and lectured on issues ranging from terrorism tactics in South Asia to how cultural misunderstandings can shape, and undermine, the effectiveness of international policy.

Bashir's expertise on the tribal areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan includes insights into tribal people, laws and culture; Pashto language and code; terrorism and insurgency in tribal regions; social and economic dynamics; history, development and management; and tribal Islamic culture.

His expertise in law and international affairs includes South Asian political systems and dynamics; international security and unconventional warfare; humanitarian and aid organizations in South Asia; comparative laws (English, South Asian and U.S.); international human trafficking and slavery; Islamic law (Mohammedan law and jurisprudence, Sharia law); U.S. immigration law; and international constitutional laws.


By Donna Emert

The University of Idaho's Tuesday, March 6 Martin Forum applies the umbrella theme of "The Interplay of the Unique and the Universal,” with a look at geopolitics and its inevitable conflicts.

As part of the university’s year-long humanities colloquium series, speaker Bill Smith examines the extent to which the countries that make up the international community can be expected to find common ground, while still maintaining their unique integrity.

Smith, director of the University of Idaho's Martin Institute and the Program in International Studies, will present, “The International Community Looks for . . . Community?” at 12:30 p.m., Tuesday, March 6, in the Idaho Commons Crest Room.

“Since the mid-1940s, the countries of the world have acted and interacted as a single body, often referred to as the international community,” said Smith. “On the one hand, the international community seeks the common good, while on the other hand, the individual nation states within the international community often prioritize their own national interests over global initiatives.”

Smith finds evidence of these colliding priorities as they manifest in concepts like the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) adopted by the international community in 2005 and included in the U.S. National Security Strategy in 2010.

“These concepts often are easier to codify than to act upon,” said Smith. “This dichotomy is manifest in the Libyan conflict, where R2P was implemented, and Syria, where thus far it has not been.”

Smith’s talk will focus on the complications inherent in the international community’s stated goal of coming together for the common good. He will highlight some of the unexpected places where “hopeful optimism” wins out over tendencies of nations to act solely in self interest: One bright example of that hope plays out in the Pacific Northwest, said Smith, where there is an international effort dedicated to the preservation of at-risk languages.

Smith holds a doctorate degree in history and has lived in Mexico, Portugal and Spain, in addition to his native U.S. His abiding interest in geopolitics also fuels his commitment to, interest in, and deep knowledge of sports and international relations.

Read more information on the 2011-2012 Humanities Colloquium, "Turning of the Wheel: the Interplay of the Unique and the Universal."


By Donna Emert

Dan Drezner
Dan Drezner, the presenter of "Lessons the Undead Can Teach Us."

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