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Human Rights, Education, and Nepal

Rosenfield Program Alum-In-Residence Dorje Gurung ’94, an activist and educator, will speak on “Human Rights and Education of Marginalized People of Nepal” at 4:15 p.m. Wednesday, April 23, in Joe Rosenfield ’25 Center, Room 101. The talk is free and open to the public.

While on campus, Gurung will also meet with students to discuss his education-related non-profit work and careers in international education.

Dorje GurungA widely traveled, Tibetan-Buddhist science educator, Gurung is education program director at Community Members Interested (COMMITTED-Nepal). Last year, while teaching in Qatar, he made national and international headlines after he was imprisoned on charges of insulting Islam.

Gurung had been nearing the end of his two-year stint teaching chemistry at Qatar Academy in Doha when he had a conversation with some 12-year-old students on the dangers of racial and ethnic stereotyping.

One of the student’s parents later complained, and the incident quickly spiraled out of control, until Gurung was perceived to have insulted Islam, and he was arrested and detained.

A global coalition of Grinnell alumni and other friends banded together to help free Gurung, quickly putting together an impressive Internet campaign, reaching out to key allies in the United States and abroad. Within 12 days, public pressure led to Gurung’s safe return to Nepal.

After his release, Gurung ran a successful fundraising campaign—Education is Freedom-Nepal—to improve the quality of and access to education in the Nepalese village of Thangpalkot. Gurung now works as the education program director at COMMITTED (Community Members Interested), a joint American and Nepalese organization dedicated to ensuring free and quality education for all Nepalese children.

“All we seek to do is help these children so that they do not suffer the same way their parents did because of a lack of education,” Gurung said. “These kids are our future, and that’s something we need to protect as best we can.”

As a child, Gurung was brought by his father from his family’s small village to Kathmandu in pursuit of a better education. His high test scores earned him a place in a Jesuit school. Gurung says that his experience in Qatar has only strengthened his belief in education as the ultimate means to social improvement. During his time in jail, he met many other Nepali inmates — mostly migrant laborers, imprisoned on similarly unfounded charges.

“Had I been one of the hundreds of thousands of uneducated Nepalese migrant laborers, I would still be in that holding cell,” said Gurung. “What made the difference was my education… Education won me my freedom twice: freedom from the shackles of birth in a low socio-economic background at home, and freedom from potential seven-year jail sentence in Qatar.”

Gurung’s April 23 talk is sponsored by the Rosenfield Program in Public Affairs, International Relations and Human Rights.

Gurung also will receive an honorary degree at Grinnell College’s Commencement ceremony on Monday, May 19.

The State of Federal Performance

 

Peter Beck ’02, a senior analyst for the Government Accountability Office, will discuss “The State of Federal Performance” in a roundtable discussion at noon Thursday, Feb. 27, in the Burling Library Lounge. 

Beck will also give a talk on "Careers in Government” in Rosenfield Center Room 209 at 4:15 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 27.

Beck’s visit is co-sponsored in conjunction with R. Dennis Murphy ’66 Program on Government-Academic Engagement by the Rosenfield Program in Public Affairs, International Relations, and Human Rights, and the Grinnell College Libraries.

Both events are open to the public. Boxed lunches will be served for the roundtable discussion, and no RSVP necessary.

Law Professor Contributes to Rosenfield Program’s Ongoing War on Drugs Symposium

In the latest installment of the yearlong War on Drugs Symposium, law professor Douglas Berman presents “Understanding and Undoing Mass Incarceration” at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 11, in the Joe Rosenfield ’25 Center, Room 101.

Berman’s free public lecture is sponsored by the Rosenfield Program in International Relations, Human Rights and Public Affairs. For more information about their appearances at Grinnell, contact Sarah Purcell ’92, 641-269-3091.

About Douglas Berman

Douglas Berman is the Robert J. Watkins/Procter & Gamble Professor of Law at Ohio State University’s Moritz College of Law. Berman earned his A.B. in philosophy at Princeton University, and his J.D. from Harvard Law School. Berman’s principal teaching and research focuses on criminal law and sentencing, the death penalty, and clinical education, and he also has teaching and practice experience in the fields of legislation and intellectual property.

Berman is the co-author of a casebook, Sentencing Law and Policy: Cases, Statutes and Guidelines, published by Aspen Publishers. In addition to authoring numerous publications on topics ranging from capital punishment to the federal sentencing guidelines, Berman has served as an editor of the Federal Sentencing Reporter for more than a decade, and also now serves as co-managing editor of the Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law.

 

Politics and Society in Putin’s Russia

**New schedule changes due to weather**

As thousands of athletes prepare to gather in Sochi for the XXII Olympic Winter Games beginning Feb. 7, the eyes of the world are on Russia — and its mercurial leader, Vladimir Putin. To help understand this fascinating and powerful man — and the increasingly conservative political turn the country has taken in his years of rule — Grinnell will host a three-day symposium on “Politics and Society in Putin’s Russia.”

The symposium Feb. 4-6 will feature presentations by leading analysts, activists, scholars, and writers who will discuss the Sochi Olympics, the 2012 Pussy Riot arrests, Putin and hypermasculinity, and minorities in Russia.

The symposium is free and open to the public. All events take place in the Joe Rosenfield ’25 Center, Room 101.

Symposium Schedule

Tuesday, Feb. 4

4:15 p.m. – “The Sochi Olympics and Putin’s Russia,” (Rescheduled from 8 p.m.)
By Bob Orttung, associate research professor of international affairs and assistant director of the Institute for European, Russian and Eurasian Studies at The George Washington University.
4:15 p.m. – “Putin, Hypermasculinity and the Construction of Charisma” (Rescheduled to 6 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 5.)
 
5:30 p.m. – Documentary Screening: Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer.
Dinner buffet is open to all; no RSVP necessary.
8 p.m. – “The Sochi Olympics and Putin’s Russia” (Rescheduled to 4:15 Tuesday, Feb. 4.)

Wednesday, Feb. 5

Noon – Scholars’ Convocation, “Pussy Riot and Putin,”(Rescheduled to 4:15.)
4:15 p.m. – “A Conversation about Russia,”(Cancelled)
 
4:15 – Scholars’ Convocation, “Pussy Riot and Putin,” (Rescheduled from noon)
By Masha Gessen, Russian and American journalist, LGBT activist and author of The Man Without a Face: The Rise and Rule of Vladimir Putin and Words Will Break Cement: The Passion of Pussy Riot. A question and answer session following the convocation will replace the original 4:15 "Conversation about Russia."
6 p.m. – “Putin, Hypermasculinity and the Construction of Charisma,” (Rescheduled from 4:15 Monday)
By Elizabeth Wood, professor of history at MIT and co-director of the MIT-Russia Program. Dinner buffet, open to all, begins as 5:30 p.m. no RSVP necessary.
8 p.m. – “Putin’s Personalist Regime and What It Means for Russian Society,”
By William M. Reisinger, professor of political science at the University of Iowa.

Thursday, Feb. 6

4:15 p.m. – “The Kremlin Turns Ideological: Vladimir Putin’s Response to Mass Protests of 2011-12,”
By Masha Lipman, editor-in-chief of Pro et Contra, Moscow Center of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
8 p.m. – “On Moscow, Minorities and Migrants,”
By Catherine Cosman ’67, senior policy analyst for the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.

This symposium is sponsored by the Rosenfield Program in International Relations, Human Rights and Public Affairs, and co-sponsored by the Russian, Central, and East European Studies Concentration and the John Chrystal Distinguished Foreign Visitor Endowment.

For more information about the symposium, contact Sarah Purcell ’92, 641-269-3091.

No Place to Go

Ethan Lipton and Orchestra will present No Place to Go—a “hilarious, irreverent ode to the unemployed” that won the Obie Award in 2012—at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 30, in the Joe Rosenfield ’25 Center Room 101. 

Steeped in American musical traditions ranging from blues and jazz to folk, No Place to Go reimagines the anxious reality of unemployment through the soulful musical stylings of Vito Dieterle (saxophone), Eben Levy (guitar) and Ian M. Riggs (bass). This Woody Allen-meets-Arthur Miller tale of workplace woe the fantasies and realities of joblessness with a sardonic but ultimately hilarious and comforting voice.

The first piece commissioned by Joe’s Pub at the Public Theatre in New York, No Place to Go has been performed nationally and internationally at venues including the 92nd St. Y, Dartmouth College, and London’s Gate Theater. It was included in The New York Times’ 2012 list of “The Year’s Most Galvanizing Moments” in theatre and named one of the best plays of 2012 in the New York Post. Ethan Lipton and his orchestra were voted the best lounge act of 2009 in New York Magazine.

Pick up free tickets for this public performance at the Bucksbaum Center for the Arts box office beginning at noon Monday, Jan. 27. A limited number of tickets are also available beginning at noon Monday, Jan. 27, at the Pioneer Bookshop in downtown Grinnell.

This event is co-sponsored by Grinnell’s Public Events Series and by the Rosenfield Program in Public Affairs, International Relations and Human Rights.