Tag: Claudena Skran

Honors Convocation Features Political Scientist Claudena Skran

Lawrence University political scientist Claudena Skran discusses two approaches for combining thought and action —the rocket ship and the catalyst models — in the final address in Lawrence’s 2012-13 convocation series.

Professor Claudena Skran

Skran, professor of government and Edwin and Ruth West Professors in Economics and Social Science, presents “Liberal Arts Education: A Catalyst for Thought into Action” Thursday, May 23 at 11:10 a.m in the Lawrence Memorial Chapel at the college’s annual Honors Convocation. She also will conduct a question-and-answer session at 2:30 p.m. in the Warch Campus Center. Both events are free and open to the public.

Skran is the fourth recipient of Lawrence’s annual Faculty Convocation Award, which honors a faculty member for distinguished professional work.

According to Skran,the rocket ship approach provides a foundation for students to help them “blast off” into life in hopes they will fly high and achieve much. This model, which sees thought and action as separate stages of development, has worked for much of the last half century, but a lack of flexibility and entrepreneurism is threatening its future.

In the catalyst model, liberal arts colleges provide the necessary structure and special ingredients needed to accelerate reactions, which produce unexpected, sometimes unplanned, results that are largely student driven and bring “thought” and “action” closer together.

The annual Honors Convocation publicly recognizes students and faculty recipients of awards and prizes for excellence in the arts, humanities, sciences, social sciences, languages and music as well as demonstrated excellence in athletics and service to others. Students elected to honor societies also will be recognized.

A specialist in international relations, with research interests in refugee issues, the United Nations and non-government organizations, Skran joined the Lawrence faculty in 1990.  She is the author of the book “Refugees in Interwar Europe:  The Emergence of a Regime.”

In 2005, Skran was awarded a Fulbright Scholars grant to study the role of NGOs in refugee resettlement in post-civil war Sierra Leone. She has subsequently made numerous return trips to Sierra Leone, often with Lawrence students for research projects. She is the founder of the NGO KidsGive, a scholarship program that supports nearly 500 students at three different schools in Sierra Leone.

A 1983 Rhodes Scholar, Skran earned a bachelor’s degree in social science from Michigan State University and her master’s and doctorate degrees in international relations at Oxford University.

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the Fiske Guide to Colleges 2013 and the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.” Individualized learning, the development of multiple interests and community engagement are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries. Follow Lawrence on Facebook.

 

 

 

U.S. Ambassador Christopher Murray ’75 Discusses Foreign Policy Challenges During Campus Visit

Christopher W. Murray, U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of the Congo, discusses foreign policy issues facing President Obama in an address at Lawrence University as part of a three-day visit to his alma mater.

A 1975 graduate of Lawrence, Ambassador Murray presents “The Obama Foreign Policy: Challenges Past, Present, and Future,” Tuesday, Feb. 21 at 6 p.m. in Thomas A. Steitz Hall of Science, Room 102. The event is free and open to the public.

U.S. Ambassador Christopher W. Murray '75

Murray was confirmed as ambassador in August 2010 and joined the U.S. Embassy in Brazzaville a month later.

During a 30-year foreign service career, Ambassador Murray has served the Department of State in positions around the world. Immediately prior to his ambassador appointment, he spent three years as the Deputy Chief of Mission and Chargé d’Affaires at the U.S. Mission to the European Union in Brussels. From 2004 to 2007, he served as Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Beirut, Lebanon, and directed the evacuation of 15,000 Americans from the country during the summer war of 2006.

Other overseas assignments included four years (1999-2003) at the U.S. Embassy in Damascus, Syria as Chief of the Political Section and Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Algiers, Algeria.

“Ambassador Murray has been at the heart of some of the most important areas of international politics, having been posted to the EU in Brussels, working on the issue of nuclear non-proliferation, and also serving in Beirut, Algeria and Syria,” said Claudena Skran, professor of government and Edwin & Ruth West Professor of Economics and Social Science. “As a Lawrence graduate and government major who speaks four languages, his career really exemplifies the value of his Lawrence education.”

Fluent in Arabic, Dutch and French, he began his career as a political officer in the Office of NATO Affairs and as country officer for Somalia.  He later oversaw Middle Eastern matters in the Office for U.N. Political Affairs.

After earning a bachelor’s degree in government from Lawrence, Ambassador Murray earned a J.D. from Cornell University Law School.

In addition to his public address, during his campus stay Ambassador Murray will meet with students to discuss foreign service and international careers as well as visit classes in the anthropology and government departments.

About Lawrence University

Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a world-class conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. Ranked among America’s best colleges, it was selected for inclusion in the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.” Individualized learning, the development of multiple interests and community engagement are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,445 students from 44 states and 35 countries.

Lawrence University Political Scientist Awarded Fulbright Grant to Study Role of NGOs in Refugee Resettlement in War-Torn Sierra Leone

For more than 20 years, political scientist Claudena Skran has held an intense interest in refugee issues. This fall, she will embark on a research project in Africa that will put her in the middle of an ongoing struggle to rebuild lives and resettle refugees in a country ravaged by war.

An associate professor of government at Lawrence University, Skran has been awarded a $60,000 grant by the Fulbright Scholar Program to conduct a study on the role of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in refugee resettlement in post-civil war Sierra Leone.

Arguably the poorest country in the world, Sierra Leone is dealing with the aftermath of a brutal 10-year-long civil war that left 50,000 citizens dead, destroyed 300,000 homes and 80% of the country’s schools and forced nearly three-quarters of a million people to flee their homes. Since the war’s end in 2001 and national elections in 2002, an estimated 245,000 refugees have returned to the war-torn country, while more than 200,000 others who were displaced have made their way back home.

Among the nearly one-half million returnees are thousands of people with special needs, including amputees, orphans, former child soldiers and women who were victims of rape and sexual abuse.

“Under any circumstances, the task of assisting so many returning people would be difficult, but for Sierra Leone, which had the lowest ranking among 177 countries on the 2004 Human Development Index, it is proving to be especially daunting,” said Skran. “These people are now trying to rebuild their lives in a country that has been shattered.”

According to Skran, the new Sierra Leone government is attempting to reconstruct a economic, political and social infrastructure in a country with a grim profile. The annual per capita income is $150, the literacy rate is just 36% and life expectancy is less than 35 years of age. Only two percent of the country’s population is 60 years of age or older and with 250 of 1,000 children dying before the age of five, it has the world’s worst infant mortality rate. Because of the sheer enormity of the situation, says Skran, NGOs will play a vital role in the process of refugee resettlement and reintegration in Sierra Leone.

“Local NGOs and the local affiliates of international NGOs are working hard to create important links to the major international agencies that are involved in Sierra Leone, including the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees,” said Skran.

Using the capital city of Freetown as the base of her operation and working closely with the Sierra Leone Opportunities Industrialization Centre (SLOIC) Skran will turn her research project on the role of NGOs in world politics in Sierra Leone into a case study. She will focus her study on four major questions: organization, governance, goals and impact.

“I plan to investigate how NGOs in Sierra Leone are organized, how they are funded, how they are governed, how they interact with each other as well as with the local and national governments,” said Skran. “I am also interested in seeing what impact they are having on the resettlement and reintegration of refugees and how they are specifically addressing those victims with special needs, especially the former child soldiers and the female victims of sexual abuse.”

Skran has conducted extensive research on refugee interests in Europe and is the author of the book “Refugees in Interwar Europe: The Emergence of a Regime” in which she analyzed the major players in the early days of the international refugee arena, including private volunteer agencies, the forerunners to today’s NGOs.

She also has conducted field research in Central America, studying displaced people in El Salvador and refugee issues in Mexico and Belize. Most recently, while teaching at Lawrence’s London Centre, Skran met with asylum seekers and natives of Sierra Leone, Ghana, Nigeria and other former British colonies in Africa.

“Most of my earlier research has focused on the role of NGOs at the international level, but with this Fulbright grant, I’ll be able to shift my perspective a bit and consider how NGOs help or hinder refugee resettlement and development at the local and national levels,” Skran explained. “The people at the SLOIC and other organizations that I have discussed this project with are all excited it, especially since a lack of funding prevents them from conducting any kind of independent research themselves.”

Skran joined the Lawrence faculty in 1990. She earned a bachelor’s degree in social science from Michigan State University, where she was named a Rhodes Scholar in 1983. She earned her master’s and doctorate degrees in international relations at Oxford University.

Established in 1946, the Fulbright Scholar Program provides grants for teaching and research positions in more than 140 countries worldwide and is administered by the Council for International Exchange of Scholars (CIES). Skran was selected from research proposals submitted in disciplines ranging from the sciences and humanities to the fine arts.