International Relations

  • China
    The American Century: A Conversation With Joseph Nye
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    Joseph Nye discusses U.S. primacy on the global stage since World War II, crucial challenges the country has faced, the changing nature of American hard and soft power today, and whether China's rise spells American decline. The Distinguished Voices Series focuses particular attention on the contributions made by a prominent individual at a critical juncture in the history of the country or the world.
  • China
    Academic Webinar: China-Russia Relations
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    Thomas Graham, distinguished fellow at CFR, and Zongyuan Zoe Liu, Maurice R. Greenberg fellow for China studies at CFR, lead the conversation on China-Russia relations. FASKIANOS: Welcome to today…
  • Education
    Higher Education Webinar: U.S. International Academic Collaboration
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    Jenny Lee, vice president for Arizona International, dean of international education, and professor of educational policy studies and practice at the University of Arizona, leads the conversation on U.S. international academic collaboration and how U.S.-China tensions are affecting higher education. FASKIANOS: Welcome to CFR’s Higher Education Webinar Series. I’m Irina Faskianos, vice president of the National Program and Outreach here at CFR. Today’s discussion is on the record and the video and transcript will be available on our website, CFR.org/academic. As always, CFR takes no institutional positions on matters of policy. We’re delighted to have Jenny Lee with us to discuss U.S. international academic collaboration. Dr. Lee is vice president for Arizona International, dean of international education, and professor of educational policy studies and practice at the University of Arizona. She is also a fellow of the American Educational Research Association. Dr. Lee formerly served as a senior fellow of NAFSA, the Association of International Educators, as chair for the Council of International Higher Education, and as a board member for the Association for the Study of Higher Education. And she has also served as a U.S. Fulbright scholar to South Africa, as a distinguished global professor at Korea University, and as an international visiting scholar at the City University of London, the University of Pretoria, and the University of Cape Town in South Africa. So, Dr. Lee, thank you very much for being with us for today’s topic. I thought you could begin by giving us an overview of current trends in U.S. international academic collaboration, especially looking at what’s happening with our relations with China. LEE: Sounds great. Well, thank you for the opportunity, Irina. It’s a pleasure to be here and to speak with you and all those listening right now. I’ll speak for about ten or so minutes, and then open it up and engage with the audience. Hopefully, you all have some good questions that will come up during my remarks. So, clearly, we’re entering a very interesting and somewhat uncertain chapter in how we understand the role of higher education globally. So I will begin with some general observation so all our viewers are on the same page. Now, first and foremost, the U.S. is mostly at the top when it comes to the higher education sector. Most of us already know that the United States houses the most highly ranked institutions. And this allows the country to be the largest host of international students and scholars from around the world. According to the latest IIE Open Doors report published a couple of weeks ago, the U.S. attracted over a million students from all over the world. And we’re almost back to pre-pandemic levels. We also host over 90,000 scholars. And the primary purpose for them being here is research, for about two-thirds to 75 percent of them. These international scholars, as well as international graduate students, contribute significantly to the U.S. scientific enterprise. The U.S. is also among the leading countries in scientific output and impact, and the largest international collaborator in the world. In other words, the U.S. is highly sought because of its prestigious institutions, drawing top faculty and students from around the world. And with that comes the ability to generate cutting-edge scientific breakthroughs which further secures the U.S.’ global position in academia. At the same time, of course, we’ve seen China’s economy rise significantly as the country surpassed the United States in scientific output, and more recently in impact as measured by publication citations, and is outpacing the U.S. in the extent of R&D investment. Chinese institutions have also made noticeable jumps in various global rankings, which is a pretty big feat considering the fierce competition among the world’s top universities. What we’re witnessing as well are geopolitical tensions between the two countries that have impacted the higher education sector. While these two countries, the U.S. and China, are the biggest global collaborators—and they collaborate more with each other than any other country—they’re also rival superpowers. As global adversaries, what we are witnessing as well is increased security concerns regarding intellectual theft and espionage. I’m going to spend some time summarizing my work for those who are not familiar to provide some further context. I and my colleagues, John Haupt and Xiaojie Li, also at the University of Arizona, have conducted numerous studies about U.S.-China scientific collaboration. And what we’re observing across these studies is how the scientific pursuit of knowledge, which is fundamentally borderless, is becoming bordered in the current geopolitical environment. International collaboration, long valued as positive-sum, is being treated as zero-sum. Besides the rise of China and the accompanying political rhetoric that posed China as a so-called threat, tensions also grew among accusations, as you may recall, about the origins of SARS-CoV-2 and a corresponding sharp increase in anti-Asian hate crimes in the United States. Public opinions about China were not favorable, and thus there was not a whole lot of public resistance when the FBI’s China Initiative was launched in 2018. This initiative basically signaled that anyone of Chinese descent was a potential enemy of the state, including possible Chinese Communist Party spies in our own universities, even though there was no pervasive empirical or later judicial cases that proved such a damaging assumption. Nevertheless, world-renowned Chinese scientists were falsely accused of academic espionage and their careers and personal finances ruined. In my research that followed with Xiaojie Li, with support from the Committee of 100, we surveyed about 2,000 scientists in the U.S.’ top research universities during the China Initiative. And we found that one in two Chinese scientists were afraid that they were being racially profiled by the FBI. We also observed that consequently scientists, especially those with Chinese descent, were less inclined to collaborate with China, less inclined to pursue federal grants, less inclined to even stay in the United States but rather to take their expertise to another country where they felt safer to pursue their research, including in China. In sum, the federal government’s attempts to weed out possible Chinese spies was highly criticized as a damaging form of racial profiling affecting even U.S. citizens and, in the end, undermined the U.S.’ ability to compete with China. Especially now, as we continue to observe Chinese scientists leaving the U.S. and taking their skills and talents elsewhere. With John Haupt and two academics at Tsinghua University in China, Doctors Wen Wen and Die Hu, we asked about two hundred co-collaborators in China and in the United States how were they able to overcome such geopolitical tensions and the challenges associated with COVID-19 during the pandemic? And we did learn something somewhat unexpected, and I hope valuable. Basically, we found that mutual trust between international collaborators helped overcome such perceived hurdles, including risks of being unfairly targeted. What this tells us is that a chilling effect is certainly real and remains possible, but in the end scientists have tremendous agency on what they study, where they study, and whether or not they seek funds, or where they seek funds. Regardless of the host or home country, international collaboration is important to all countries’ scientific enterprise. Coauthors from different countries improve the knowledge being produced, its applicability, enlarges global audiences, and thereby increases the impact of the work. So considering the value, yet risks, where do we begin? Firstly, federal and institutional policies, of course, matter, for better or for worse. But policies do not manufacture trust. The formation of an academic tie does not suddenly occur over a cold call in the middle of a global meltdown, as often portrayed in Hollywood. Rather, this is a gradual process. And the longevity of the relationship helps strengthen that trust over time. According to our research, these collaborative relationships begin as graduate students, postdocs, visiting researchers. They occur at academic conferences and other in-person opportunities. Cutting short-term fellowships, for example, will impact the potential of a future scientific relationship, but its effects may not be felt for years. Same with denied visas and opportunities for travel. Fewer graduate students from particular countries or fields also means a different shape when it comes to global science. U.S. for instance, was not too long ago Russia’s biggest foreign scientific collaborator, with the war in Ukraine, those research relationships, as well as much—with much of the Western world, have ceased. All of this, and my related empirical research, was conducted when I was a professor at my home institution. And since July, I’ve been serving, as Irina mentioned, as the dean and vice president of international affairs at my own institution. And I’ve been thinking a lot of, what does this mean for institutional practice? For those in university leadership positions, as mine, you know this is a tough challenge. Especially as domestic demand and state funding for higher education is generally declining. And at the same time, internationalization is increasingly central to senior leadership strategies. Universities are continuing vying to attract the world’s students, even despite a decline of interest from China. And at the same time, research universities in particular are quite dependent on federal grants. We have our own research security offices that need to ensure our universities have good reputations and relations with our large federal funding agencies and taking every precaution to not be seen as a vulnerable site of intellectual theft. These units tend not to operate within international affairs. And I’m very well aware that in my role of trying to attract as many students from China and develop international partnerships, all of them can be suddenly erased if a Chinese University partner does not pass visual compliance or there is a sudden presidential executive order, as we experienced under the Trump administration. I’m also very well aware that of senior leaders have to choose between my educational offerings and partnerships in China versus risking a major grant from a federal agency, I will lose. We witnessed that with the shutting down of over 100 Confucius Institutes in the U.S., despite a lack of evidence of systematic espionage occurring through these centers. Public perceptions, informed or not, strongly affect the nature of our international work, as in the case of Florida. Such negative perceptions are not one country-sided, of course. A key concern for Chinese and other international students and their parents relate to safety. Gun violence, including on our own college campuses, anti-Asian hate crimes in surrounding neighborhoods, and unfavorable political environment in which studies might be interrupted as in the case of Proclamation 10043, or visa non-renewals are all contributing factors for the decline of interest from China, and uncertain future student exchange as well. In closing, when it comes to China these days no practices are guaranteed. However, I can recommend some while also keeping in mind geopolitical conditions can suddenly change for worse, or perhaps better. I mentioned earlier the value of mutual trust. At my university, we have long-standing relationships with university leaders at Chinese institutions. We’ve set up dual degree programs in China. Actually, about 40 percent of our international student enrollment are through such partner relationships throughout the world, in which we go to where they are. Hiring staff who speak the language and know the culture are also essential. And, like any relationship, these arrangements have developed over time. They are not built overnight. It takes intention. It takes effort. But in my experience, as trust is established the numbers have grown, and the positive impact is still being felt. Thank you. FASKIANOS: Thank you very much for that. That was terrific. Let’s go now to all of you for your questions, comments. You can use this to share best practices and what you’re doing to your universities or institutions. Please click the raise hand icon on your screen to ask a question. On your iPad or tablet, you can click the “more” button to access the raise hand feature. And when you’re called upon, please accept the unmute prompts, state your name and affiliation, followed by your question. You can also submit a written question, they’ve already started coming in, by the Q&A icon. And if you can also include your affiliation there, I would appreciate it, although we will try to make sure we identify you correctly. So let’s see. I’m looking for—no raised hands yet, but we do have questions written. So first question from Denis Simon, who’s a professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill: Many U.S. universities have curtailed their exchanges and cooperation with China. You referenced that. Officials at these universities are worried that if they appear too friendly toward China they will lose all sorts of federal funding. Are these concerns justified? Are there any regulations or legislation that actually says federal funding can be removed assuming these universities are in compliance with the export controls, et cetera? LEE: All right. Well, thanks, Denis, for your question. I know there—when I saw the list of those who signed up, I know there are many here who can speak to this directly. So I encourage those to also raise their hands and provide input in the Q&A, maybe in the form of an A instead of a Q. But in any case, going to that question, you know, it’s a tough environment. And so much in my role, but what I even experienced in my research, is about that perception, that overinterpretation. So maybe signaling that we have this exchange program might draw attention in ways that might lead to suspicions that, oh, well is this, you know, somehow creating an opportunity for us to disclose military secrets? I mean, that’s where we take it. A friendly exchange or visit is oftentimes now having to be scrutinized and ensuring that there is no remote violation of export controls, even in educational delivery in a non-STEM field. And what we’re seeing is that this—we have our highly sensitive fields, but that kind of scrutiny we’re also seeing applied to the institution more broadly. So these seemingly benign programs about language or culture, about fields that are enhanced or help promote so-called American values, are also being watched. So I believe as an institutional leader, again, as I mentioned earlier, having to deal with the possibility of unwanted or unwarranted attention versus not having that program, I think some, as Denis has pointed out, are leaning towards being more cautious. Unfortunately, China—any work with China is considered a risk, even if there is no reason for risk, as we’ve witnessed under—or, observed under the China Initiative. I don’t know if I’ve fully answered that question, but please follow up if I haven’t. And I know others can probably say more to that issue. FASKIANOS: Great. I’ll take the next question from Peter—I don’t know how to pronounce— LEE: Peter Becskehazy. Hi, Peter. (Laughs.) FASKIANOS: There you go. Thank you very much. LEE: I know Peter. FASKIANOS: All right. Good. Well, I’d love if Peter asked his question directly, if he can. Oh, good. From Pima Community College. Go ahead, Peter. Q: Hello, Jenny. Nice to see you. LEE: Hi, Peter. Q: Now my question is, the University of Arizona and other universities have had an inflow of dozens of countries, adding up to the million that you mentioned. Are other countries trying to fill in slots left vacant by Chinese students and scholars? LEE: Yeah. Great question, Peter. And I think you can also share what you’ve observed at Pima in terms of the patterns you’ve witnessed. But for us, and as we are seeing nationally, we’re seeing India rise. Not at the—not at higher numbers in many institutions, compared to China, but the rate is rising. It’s not so simple, though, because we also have relations in India, and trying to set up agreements, and bring students. The competition in India is intense. So even though there’s a relatively so-called large market, and the U.S. has been quite successful in attracting Indian students, that is perhaps where the attention is as a more, I would say—I hate to use the word “market,”—but a stable student market. There’s a lot more interest in graduate-level education globally, as we’ve observed. These countries that formerly didn’t have capacity now do have capacity. They have online offerings. They have branch campuses, dual degrees, lots of other options. And so the niche for the U.S., whereas before we didn’t really have to think about a niche, is really in graduate education. Now, of course, that’s not good news for Pima, that’s thinking about a community college and other kinds of educational offerings. But for us, we’re thinking about India a lot. Southeast Asia, of course, has always been an important partner to us. Africa continues to be a challenge. We know that when we think about population growth, Africa is the future. There’s still challenges and trying to identify places where there is capacity. But also the affordability of a U.S. education is a huge challenge. So it’s a great question. And, again, I’m curious to know other places in the world people recommend. Of course, Latin America, given our location, is a key strategic partner. But again, affordability becomes an issue. And again, I’m just talking about the traditional international student who would choose to come to Arizona. Not talking about research collaboration, which is less bound by affordability issues. Irina, you’re muted. FASKIANOS: How long have I been doing this? OK. (Laughs.) I’m going to take the next written question from Allison Davis-White Eyes, who is vice president for diversity, equity, and inclusion at Fielding Graduate University: We have tried to work on collaborations with European universities and African universities, and met with much difficulty. What trends are you seeing in these regions? And what are emerging global markets beyond China? LEE: Great question, Allison. I mean, if you could leave the question in the future, so because I am visually looking at the question at the same time. FASKIANOS: Oh, great. Sorry. LEE: So, Allison, I’m not sure if you’re referring to academic or research. Of course, within Europe, where the government does highly subsidized tuition, it’s just becomes financially a bad deal, I suppose—(laughs)—for a student in the world who would normally get a free or highly reduced tuition to pay full price at our institution. So that kind of exchange of partnership, especially when it’s about—when it’s financially based, becomes almost impossible from my experience. But thinking about research collaboration, it depends on the level. So if it’s an institutional agreement, you know, it’s—often, these MOUs tend to just be on paper. It takes quite a bit of—it’s very ceremonial. You need to get legal involved. It’s a whole process to get an MOU. We really don’t need these non-binding MOUs for research agreements. Some countries like it, just to display that they have an MOU with a U.S. institution. But essentially, it doesn’t stop me as a professor to reach out to another professor at the University of Oslo, and say, hey, let’s do a study. Which we actually are doing. So, yeah, feel free to be more specific, or if you want to raise your hand or speak on—and elaborate on that question. So, again, for educational exchange, it is difficult because we are—there’s already a process within the EU that makes it very affordable and highly supported within the EU, or if you’re part of that bigger program. Africa, again, my challenge from my role as an institutional leader is identifying places where there is already enough mass education up through high school where one would be able to consider, first of all, being admitted to a U.S. institution, but secondly, to be able to pay the cost. FASKIANOS: Allison, do you want to expand a little bit? Q: Oh, sorry. (Laughs.) FASKIANOS: There you go. There you go. Q: Right. Dr. Lee, thank you for your response. I think it was helpful, especially regarding the subsidizing of education in Europe. We’ve been working on some research partnerships. And we have just—you know, really, it has just been extremely difficult with European universities. And I do think part of it has to do with the way things are subsidized in Europe. I was just wondering if there were new and different ways to do it. I do appreciate your comment about the MOUs being largely ceremonial. I agree. And would like to see something with a little more substance. And that will take some creativity and a lot of partnership and work. As for Africa, we have tried to create partnerships with South Africa. I think there’s some potential there. Certainly, some excitement. We’ve had a few students from Nigeria, extremely bright and motivated. I just would—you know, would like to hear, maybe from some other colleagues as well on the call, if there are creative ways in working with these students as well. So, thank you. LEE: Yeah, no. And just to follow up quickly, and, again, opportunities for others to share, academic collaboration, as I mentioned during my remarks, is largely built upon mutual trust. And not to say it can’t happen from top down, but really does—is most successful from bottom up. And I don’t mean to refer to professors at the bottom, but meaning those that are actually engaged with that work. And so just some considerations is rather than a top-down initiative or strategy, is to identify those that are visiting scholars, already from that country, have networks within that country. What’s interesting, as I learned in my current role, is how little my predecessors worked with professors in these area’s studies programs, because they’re oftentimes treated as a separate or having different interests in mind when actually there is a lot of overlap to identify those that are actually there. Allison, by the way, I lived in South Africa for eight years. And I know it actually takes a long time. My Fulbright started off as a one year, and I had to extend it because even getting the data while I was on the ground takes time. And I’ll be honest, I think part of it was taking some time just to build trust the intentions of my work, what was I going to do with that data, how is that going to be used? Was it actually going to be ways to empower them? You know, for those who study international collaboration, know this north and south divide, and I think there are places in the world that are—maybe have some guardrails up from those—not saying this is what’s happening in your institution—but someone that they don’t know coming from the Global North to study someone else in the Global South. And so how do we create or initiate a collaboration that is clearly, expressly mutual at the onset? And, again, this is where trust can be operationalized lots of different ways, but that even begins with that initial message. I mean, I remember when I started my work, nobody responded to me. They’re like, who are you? And I don’t care who you are or what your CV says. And it takes time. You know, building that relationship, and that person introducing me to that other person. Like, you know, this is how scientific networks form. And I think, to some extent, this is also how institutional collaborative relationships also form. FASKIANOS: Thank you. I’m going to go next to David Moore, who has a raised hand. Q: OK, thank you. I just got unmuted. FASKIANOS: Great. Q: Lee, I appreciate your comments. And I heard your reference to Florida earlier. I don’t know if we have colleagues on this call from Florida, but I think they’ll know what I’m about to say. I’m the dean of international education at Broward College in Fort Lauderdale. And as of tomorrow, December 1, Florida has to—all institutions in Florida, public institutions, colleges and universities, must be completely devoid of any partnerships in China. And not just China. There are seven countries of concern. And you probably can cite them, most of you would know the other six. But of the seven countries, Broward had four partnerships in China alone, none in the other countries that were active. And so we are now officially done, have to be. And I’ve had to notify the partners as well as our accrediting body, because these were international centers of Broward where they literally offer—we offered associate degrees, two-year degrees. And students could then transfer to an institution in the United States. Now, this didn’t catch us too much by surprise because two and a half years ago our Florida legislature started in on this, really probably before that, where they isolated universities in Florida and said: You cannot do research—sensitive research, whatever, you know, engineering, computer science, et cetera—any research without notifying the state. And there’s an elaborate process that had to be—you know, they had to go through to do this. But now it’s not just research institutions. Now it’s not just those kinds of collaborations. It is, in fact, all partnerships of any kind. We had to end our agent agreements where we were recruiting students from China that were—where the companies were based in China. And in course our programs were not research. They’re just general education, two-year associate’s degree, maybe some business. But we’ve been informed now it’s completely done. And so I’m actually looking for institutions outside of Florida who might be willing to take over the role that we’ve had in transcripting students who later want to come to the United States. At least for the first two years in China, and then transferring to the upper division to the U.S. So I’m not sure. You’re probably quite familiar with this. I don’t know if you know the details of how it was worked out in practice. We were the only community college in the state that had any partnerships. So we were the ones that had to desist. So I want to—there are probably people on the call that are familiar with this, but there might be many others. And I just wanted to say that I’m looking to, you know, open that door to other institutions outside of Florida that might be willing in, yes, take a risk to go into China, but to—I’ve always felt that these kinds of programs were very good to build relationships, partnerships, communication. Ambassadors really. Where we feel like we were representing American education, whatever, you know, we call American values, democracy, you know, community. We thought we were doing good. But we found out we were—we were not. We were—we were doing something that went opposed to the prevailing political climate, at least in Florida. So that’s my comment. I think people should know about it. And thank you for letting me speak to it a bit. Maybe someone will speak up and say they’re interested in they can get in touch with me, David Moore at Broward College, Fort Lauderdale, Florida. LEE: David, thank you for sharing what you did. This is a really important example of where other states could very well head. And what’s interesting, as David noted, we’re talking about a community college. When we normally think about cutting ties, it’s usually around the concerns about national security. Now, how this translates to a two-year degree that is solely educational based is a pretty far stretch, and yet is being impacted quite severely. So I think we should continue to follow this example—unfortunate example. And, David, yeah, your partners have reached out to my office, and I’m sure to others. But thank you for being available. Q: You’re welcome. We have partners—we are also working with your Jakarta, Indonesia center there. So we have that connection. Thank you. LEE: Mmm hmm. Thanks. FASKIANOS: And if anybody wants to share contact information in the Q&A box, you can certainly do that. That would be great. There is a written question from Tutaleni Asino at Oklahoma State University: There was an article today in SEMAFOR highlighting that there are currently 350 U.S. students studying in China compared to 11,000 in 2019. Comparatively, there are 300,000 Chinese students in the United States. Is this a one-way problem, where the U.S. is not investing in international engagements as a result of being more inward looking and other countries having more options of who to collaborate with? LEE: Yeah. Tutaleni, that’s—I think your question is an answer. And I think it’s—I agree with your observation. So we are seeing that as there’s state and public disinvestment in higher education, and including scrutiny about international higher education, we’re also seeing a decline and cutting of foreign language programs in the United States. So here we are, a monolingual country whose students mostly go to Europe or other English-speaking countries to study abroad. A very limited number of international—U.S. students who pursue undergraduate degrees in a foreign country. And knowing that the future is global and international, at least in my opinion, does not set the U.S. up well to be globally competitive, even though much of its international policy is around this rhetoric of we need to compete with China. And so you raise a good point. How is this possible if U.S. citizens don’t speak Chinese, or have no interest in learning about Chinese culture, or there’s reduced opportunities even in our own institutions, I think is something to think about and ask more questions about. FASKIANOS: I’m going to take the next question from Zhen Zhu, chair and professor of marketing, director of faculty excellence, and director for international engagement at Suffolk University: How do you see the trend of U.S. students’ interest in study abroad to China? LEE: There is actually growing interest. As many of you know, China—offering Chinese language in high schools is not as unusual as it used to be. There is growing interest as students are thinking about employability in global markets in multinational or international organizations or corporations. It would be fundamental, in fact, for someone who has any interest in international work to pick up the language if they can, and at your own institution. FASKIANOS: Great. Let’s see. From—I’m going to take the next question from Jeff Riedinger: Is there a role for universities to play in knowledge diplomacy to sustain international relationships and collaborations in addressing global problems such as climate change and pandemics when national governments may be at odds with each other? LEE: Thanks, Jeff. And hi, Jeff. I’m just going to read over that question so I can kind of digest it a bit. Is there a role for institutions to play in knowledge diplomacy, such as climate change, pandemics, when national governments may be at odds with each other? Absolutely, 200 percent. It is occurring—knowledge diplomacy, science diplomacy. That one individual going on a Fulbright or coming to study here for some extended visit, having these collaborations and, ultimately, you know, science—knowledge production—I mean, there’s no bounds. And when we think about the kind of research that may not occur because of these national governments are at odds when it comes to addressing climate change or other global issues, you know, the world is paying somewhat of a price when it comes to that in—when there are overarching concerns about national security. So, you know, my issue has always been with policy you overlook nuance, and with sweeping policies that overlook the disciplinary distinctions and contributions, what is lost in the pursuit of trying to stay ahead of another country in fields and areas that really have no economic or military value, right? But yet, have an important cultural value, or maybe will address something bigger, such as COVID-19. So as I mentioned, the work that I referenced earlier about U.S.-Chinese scientists coming together during COVID-19, were actually scientists who studied COVID-19 together. And again, this was not—this was fraught with risks. They were very well aware that there was a lot of scrutiny about any research about COVID-19 coming from China. There was scrutiny about, you know, where the data was held, who was analyzing it, who was funding it. And yet, these scientists took these risks in order to address how does the world deal with the pandemic. And this was based on interviews of those studies that were actually successful and published. This is where that mutual trust, as I’ve mentioned earlier, is so important. And without that mutual trust, these studies, I’m pretty certain, would never have been published, because it was not an easy path when it comes to that particular geopolitical climate during the pandemic. FASKIANOS: Jenny, I’m just going to ask a question. President Biden and President Xi met during APEC. Did anything come out of that meeting that could affect U.S.-China academic collaboration? LEE: Yeah. You know, this is tough. I mean, how do you analyze political statements? What do they really mean? And what is really going to change? I think what’s clear is that there’s an acknowledgment that we’re interdependent, but we’re also adversaries. Almost a love/hate codependent, in a relationship that we can’t just easily separate but we do need each other. But the form that it takes, I think there’s an understanding it needs to be more specific. And I don’t think that has been clarified yet. I realize I missed part of Jeff’s question on what can institutions do? That’s such a good question. And I got more into the topic than the actual to-do. What can institutions do? Honestly—(laughs)—I’ll just speak as a researcher, to back off a bit, right? To let scientists do what they want to do. Yes, we need to follow disclosures. We need to make sure there’s no conflicts of interest. We need to follow all of these procedures. But what I also found during the China Initiative, there was also this chilling climate in which there’s an overinterpretation that may put institutions at risk. And to my knowledge, institutions were not at risk to the extent to which their scientists, especially those of Chinese descent, felt scrutinized. FASKIANOS: Thank you. We have a raised hand from Dan Whitman. Q: OK, I think I’m unmuted. Thank you, Irina. And thanks, Professor Lee, for mentioning the Great Wall that that prevents us from dealing with even Europeans who have subsidized education or Africans who have no money. And just an anecdote, since you have welcomed anecdotes, I am an adjunct at George Washington University. But totally unrelated to that, just for free and just for fun, pro bono, nobody pays, nobody gets paid. A course that I’m giving by webinar, it’s zero cost. The topic is crisis management, but it could be any topic. And in that group, which there are about eighty people who tune in twice a week, fifteen Kenyans, twenty-five Ukrainians, and forty Kazakhs. I mean, I don’t know if there’s ever been exchange between Kazakhstan and Kenya. Anyway, my point is things can be done. We share it for free. What motivates the students? A certificate. It’s so easy to give them a certificate. And in many countries, they very highly value that, even though it’s not a—there’s no formality, there’s no formal academic credit. But the students are very motivated. And possibly, there may be universities in the U.S. that could—that might want to give a professor a small stipendium to do an informal webinar course, which would create connections, which would be zero cost, basically, and would bridge that gap of funding that you’ve alluded to. Thank you. LEE: Yeah. Dan, thank you for that. And I think this leads to a kind of a spin-off comment about certificates. Absolutely. Micro-credentials or alternative forms of education, where there’s maybe not a full-fledged undergraduate degree but some certificate, I think, is important niche, especially for returning adults or communities where they’re not able to afford to take time off. So that flexibility, and obviously now with online education, just becomes so much more accessible and very low cost. Something else to keep in mind, though, is that, depending on the institution you’re from, that will make a difference in certificates. I mean, an institution like George Washington University offering a certificate may have some symbolic or perceived value that may be higher than an institution that is lower or are not ranked at all. So this is where, unfortunately—I’m a big critic of global rankings. But unfortunately, it does play a role in how that certificate is being perceived and the attractiveness of that certificate. But absolutely, this is definitely a way to open access especially for places in the world that just cannot physically move or have the funds to support their studies. FASKIANOS: Great. There are two comments/questions in the Q&A that I wanted to give you a chance to respond to about Africa, from Tutaleni Asino and Fodei Batty. Dr. Asino talks about English is the language of instruction and governments in Africa where they’re funding education to a higher degree, and thinks that there are opportunities there, but it sounds like all fifty-four countries are grouped together. And Dr. Batty talks a little bit about there are a lot of students from African countries pursuing graduate education in the United States. But South Africa is usually an exception to the higher education American norm in Africa. Most South Africans don’t like to travel, especially travel to America. I thought maybe you could just clarify some—respond to those comments. LEE: Yeah. Absolutely. Thank you for sharing those comments. There’s a book I edited called Intra-Africa Student Mobility. And I agree with the comments. And one of the things I didn’t mention that I think is important to help us understand the broader global context is that there’s actually considerable international activity within the continent. And there’s actually considerable intra-Africa mobility within the continent. South Africa is the most important country player in Sub-Saharan Africa. It is globally ranked—has more globally ranked institutions than any other African country. And so South Africa then becomes an important hub. And, yes, as an English-speaking, among many other languages, country, that does attract African students to go oftentimes for a similar sense of shared culture, despite sometimes different languages and customs and backgrounds. And yet, nevertheless, South Africa is an important player within the continent. Not to say that there is no international mobility occurring, but there is increased capacity within the continent that would allow students and interested students to travel within the continent. Not the same extent, of course, as Europe. But the least we’re seeing that rise over time. And so it’s called Intra-Africa Student Mobility. Chika Sehoole and I coedited the book. We were able to get about eight African scholars to talk about the various reasons students would choose that particular African country, and what draw them. And what was really interesting about this phenomenon is that it goes against this prevailing notion of Africa’s victim of brain drain or all going to the north. That’s actually not what is happening. But that there is capacity building within the continent. So in trying to answer a different question, I skirted over a lot of the things I could go further into. But hopefully that book will shed light on what’s happening within that continent, at least from the perspective of eight different countries. FASKIANOS: Fantastic. Thank you for that. I’m going to go next to Jonathan Scriven at Washington Adventist University in Maryland: What are some of the strategies universities are using to make education more affordable in the United States? If that is a challenge, are schools investing more or less in setting up campuses in foreign countries as a way to reach foreign students? LEE: I’m just going to read over that question. OK, yeah. Great question, Jonathan. So what’s happening in my institution and many others is a way to attract students is we’re providing considerable aid, merit aid, financial aid, aid even to international students. The majority may not even be paying the full sticker price. Now this, of course, will affect the revenue that would have otherwise been generated, but nevertheless is a way to deal with the fierce competition across U.S. institutions for these top students. So how to make it affordable? There’s a lot of aid going around at the undergraduate, not just the graduate, levels. And so what are institutions doing? Well, for example, at the University of Arizona for our dual degrees, it’s a fraction of the cost of what it would cost to be a student at our main campus. When you have a combination of hybrid or online delivery with a campus partner maybe providing most of the gen ed’s and then we would teach most of the major courses as an example, that does significantly lower the cost where that student will still get a bona fide University of Arizona degree, just like they would at main campus. So these alternative forms of delivery certainly make it more affordable, especially for those that opt to stay in their home country and receive an online education, or a flipped classroom model, or a dual degree. FASKIANOS: Great. Denis Simon, if you can—why don’t you ask your question? Q: Here I am. OK. Recently, on a trip to China in September, a number of faculty have told me they’re no longer wanting to send their best students abroad. They want to keep them in China. And this is all part of the rise of Chinese universities, et cetera. And so it may not be simply the souring of Sino-U.S. relations that has causal effect here, but simply the fact that China now is becoming a major, you know, educational powerhouse. And that also could change the dynamics. For example, even the BRI countries could start to send their students to China instead of sending them to the United States. Do you see anything evolving like this or—and what might be the outcome? LEE: Yeah. Spot on, David. That halo effect of a U.S. degree is not the same as it was when I was a university student. Chinese students, as well as students in the world, are much more savvy. They have access to information. They have access to rankings. They know all universities are not the same. And they know that they have some institutions that are highly ranked and may offer better quality education than the U.S. So that the image of a U.S. degree, of course, is not as universally perceived as it may have been, I don’t know, pre-internet, or without the—all sorts of rankings in which institutions are rated against one another. And absolutely, Chinese institutions are very difficult to get into, fiercely competitive, producing far more scientific output than some of our leading institutions. And there’s another factor when it comes to Asian culture just more broadly speaking, is that social network tie. Sociologists refer to it as social capital. When a Chinese student, a Korean student, Japanese student decides to study in the United States, they may lose that social tie that may possibly put them in a disadvantage when they decide to come back and compete for a position when they may just have that U.S. credential, but may have either lessened or no longer have that relationship that may have allowed them to get a position at the university, or in a place where that alumni network would have been especially useful. So again, I don’t want to generalize, you know, in any place to the world, but there is that component that I think sometimes is missed in the literature. Maintaining that social network is pretty key, especially as jobs, of course, global, you know, unemployment—places where students are competing for positions need to have every edge possible. So that also can be part of that reason they decide to stay. FASKIANOS: Great. The next question from Michael Kulma, who’s at the University of Chicago. He’s following on David Moore’s comments about Florida: Do you know how many other states in the U.S. are enacting or are considering such policies against partnerships with China? LEE: I do not know the answer. So if anyone wants to raise their hand and share about their own state, or put it on the answer part of the question and answer. There are related concerns about DEI, diversity, equity, and inclusion. Some of that may spill over to China. Hopefully, at some point at the Council of Foreign Relations will have a discussion on Israel and Hamas conflict and how institutions are dealing with that. And so we’re seeing a pretty challenging political environment that is clearly spilling over to our classrooms and to our international activities, our domestic recruitment. But I’m not answering your question, Michael. (Laughs.) I’ll leave it up to someone else to answer. FASKIANOS: Great. Thank you. So we don’t have very much time left. I thought maybe you could, given your research and expertise, could suggest resources—recommend resources for higher ed leaders and administrators to better understand how to promote collaboration. LEE: Sure. So promoting collaboration, it really—each person at a time. You know, again, MOUs may be signed, and maybe overarching presidents will come together and have an agreement, but there’s no guarantee that will ever happen. I’d love to do a study on how many MOUs never actually materialized into real action. So where do we begin? International affairs SIOs out there, identify who are your area studies experts? Who are your visiting postdocs? Who are your Fulbright scholars from other parts of the world? They all represent their own network and are certainly are valuable resources to consider. What I’ve sometimes have heard even at my own institution is, you know, how do we bring these people to the table? Why are they not at the table to begin with, and then how do we bring them there? And this is a relatively low-cost way to go about this, right? Like, faculty engaged in service. What kind of opportunities can your university provide for faculty service that is aligned with their area of expertise, the areas of the world they represent, the networks they have? And many of—some of you already have experienced this directly. These partnerships often begin with our alumni, international—former international students who decide to go back home. So, again, there’s just a lot of exciting opportunity. I love this field because it’s never boring. There’s always new ways to grow, expand new partners. But it really does begin with that essential element of trust. And that often begins with our own institutions and identifying those who’ve already started to build that network. FASKIANOS: Wonderful. Thank you very much. Really appreciate your being with us and for sharing your expertise and background, Dr. Lee. It’s been fantastic. And to all of you, for your questions and comments, and sharing your experiences as well. You can follow Dr. Lee on X, the app formerly known as Twitter, at @JennyJ_Lee. I will send out a link to this webinar, the transcript, and the video, as well as the link to the book—your book that you mentioned, and any other resources that you want to share with the group. And I encourage you all to follow @CFR_academic on X, visit CFR.org, ForeignAffairs.com, and ThinkGlobalHealth.org for research and analysis on global issues. We also—just putting in a plug for our other series, Academic Webinar series, which is designed for students. We just sent out the winter/spring lineup and we hope that you will share that with your colleagues and your students. It is a great way for them to have access to practitioner scholars and to talk with students from around the country. So if you haven’t received that lineup, you can email [email protected], and we will share that with you. So, again, thank you, Jenny, for being with us, and to all of you. And wishing you safe and happy holidays. And good luck closing out this semester before we get to the holidays. (Laughs.) So thank you again. (END)

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    Academic Webinar: U.S. Relations With South America
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    Brian Winter, vice president of policy at Americas Society and Council of the Americas and editor-in-chief of Americas Quarterly, leads the conversation on U.S. relations with South America. CASA: Welcome to today’s session of the Winter/Spring 2023 CFR Academic Webinar Series. I’m Maria Casa, director of the National Program and Outreach at CFR. Thank you all for joining us. Today’s discussion is on the record and the video and transcript will be available on our website, CFR.org/Academic, if you would like to share it with your colleagues or classmates. As always, CFR takes no institutional positions on matters of policy. We are delighted to have Brian Winter with us to discuss U.S. relations with South America. Mr. Winter is the vice president of policy for the America Society and Council of the Americas and editor in chief of Americas Quarterly. An influential political analyst, he has followed South America for more than twenty years and has served as a correspondent for Reuters in Brazil, Argentina, and Mexico. Mr. Winter is the author of several books including Why Soccer Matters, a New York Times bestseller he wrote with the Brazilian soccer legend Pelé. He is a regular contributor to television and radio and host of the Americas Quarterly podcast. Welcome, Brian. Thank you very much for being with us. WINTER: Thank you, Maria. Thanks for the invitation. CASA: Can you begin with a general overview of current U.S. relations with South American countries? WINTER: I can try and actually, as a matter of fact, today is an extremely fortuitous day to be doing this and let me tell you why. A couple of weeks ago on February 10, Brazil’s new president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, made a one-day trip to Washington. He met with President Biden while he was here. He brought his foreign minister with him as well as his chief foreign policy adviser, his finance minister, a couple other members of his Cabinet. One of the biggest sort of concrete results of this trip that Lula made up here was a U.S. donation to the Amazon Fund of $50 million. That is million with an M. Well, today, Lula leaves for China with about half of his Cabinet and a delegation of approximately two hundred and thirty leaders from Brazil’s private sector in what Brazilian media are calling the biggest foreign delegation ever to leave Brazil for another country. They will be in China for six days and there is a whole roster of deals on the table ranging from financing to infrastructure to education, environmental, and so on. So the point I’m trying to get across here is one of clear asymmetry and it really reflects kind of the new moment for U.S. relations with South America overall. As Maria mentioned, I started my career in the region as a reporter a little more than twenty years ago. I was in Argentina for four years. I was in Mexico for one year and Brazil for five, and in the course of that relatively short period of time we’ve seen kind of the power balance in how we think about Latin America but specifically South America. We’ve seen a significant change in how we think about that region. Back the early 2000s, certainly, during the 1990s, these were the final years of the so-called Washington Consensus, a period characterized by kind of the unipolar moment that came with the end of the Cold War, a certain consensus not only around democracy but around a certain set of liberalizing economic policies as well, and that ran its course. But really, it was around 2003 when everything started to change for a variety of reasons. The biggest one is the one that I’ve already referenced, which is the growth of China as a trading partner for the region. China had always had a presence in Latin America. In fact, for the magazine that I run, Americas Quarterly, we ran a piece two years ago about the Chinese presence in Mexico going all the way back to the 1600s when they operated barber shops and other sort of forms of commerce. But what’s happened over the last twenty years is really remarkable. In numbers, Chinese trade with Latin America and the Caribbean overall went from 18 billion (dollars) in 2002 to a stunning 450 billion (dollars) in 2021. China is now the largest trading partner for Brazil, Chile, Peru, and Uruguay, and for South America as a whole if you take all those countries in the aggregate China now outranks the United States. When you look at Latin America, by the way, that includes Mexico. If you take that grouping then the U.S. is still the number-one trading partner but, again, that’s almost entirely because of that relationship—that trading relationship as a result of the former NAFTA and now USMCA. Along with that big growth in Chinese trade have come other changes. We’ve had a lot of talk in the U.S. media in recent days about the twentieth anniversary of the Iraq war. That was something—and I was living in Argentina at the time and you could really feel how that even then carried a cost for the U.S. reputation in some of these countries. I think that with the failure of the—the failures of the war over time I think that that only accentuated the view that—not only a long-standing view that the U.S. was an unwelcome, meddling, and in many cases imperialist presence but it also accelerated this narrative that the United States was in relative decline. More recent years we’ve seen kind of other things contribute to this diminished reputation of the United States and throughout many countries in the region—everything ranging from not just the election of Donald Trump, who, of course, was not popular in most of the region; but also specific decisions that were made by his government, such as the withdrawal from the TPP—the Trans-Pacific Partnership—that, of course, is the trade deal that was negotiated under the Obama administration that included several Latin American countries, including Chile and Peru—but also the weaponization of tariffs; and, you know, Trump’s repeated threats to even cut off Mexican imports. They did—those threats did have the effect of kind of forcing, first, President Peña Nieto in Mexico and then his successor, Andrés Manuel Lόpez Obrador, to cooperate with initiatives like management of migration policy. So in the short term, they, quote/unquote, “worked” but in the longer term it showed Mexico as well as other countries in the region that the U.S. was not a particularly reliable partner. Some of you may be listening to all this and thinking, well, this sounds like the viewpoints espoused by governments in the region that are leftist and have never really cared for the United States in the first place. But another interesting thing about this latest trend and the way that things have changed over the last ten years is that this desire to forge a middle path between China and the United States as their strategic competition escalates is shared by leaders across the ideological spectrum. South American countries in particular are not unlike the United States when it seems like virtually everything is polarized, and yet in this area and specifically the need—the perceived need to have closer relations with—I’m sorry, closer relations with China while maintaining a civil relationship but not siding too much with United States, some of the most enthusiastic proponents of that view in recent years have actually been governments on the center right and right such as Sebastián Piñera, the former president of Chile, Iván Duque, the former president of Colombia, Guillermo Lasso, the current president of Ecuador, who has worked extensively with China, and even Jair Bolsonaro, who was until recently the right-wing president of Brazil, ended up essentially going along with Beijing and allowing Huawei to participate in the recent auction of 5G mobile communications technology there. And so what we end up with as a result is a policy in many countries across the region that some are calling active nonalignment, the idea that governments in the region, regardless of their ideological stripe, need to seek an equidistant or middle path between Washington and Beijing, essentially taking advantage of their relative distance from not only potential conflicts between the U.S. and China but also looking at what’s happening in Ukraine right now and saying, look, we need to maintain our independence, not side too strongly with either of these emerging blocs, and see if we can benefit from this by selling our commodities to everybody, keeping in mind that these are economies, especially in South America, that rely extremely heavily on the sale of commodities exports to drive their economic growth. So, you know, in conclusion for these initial remarks that is a huge change in the course of a generation. We’ve gone in a little more than twenty years from this assumption that most Latin American countries are in the U.S. sphere of influence, to use a very outdated term, which I detest, that they were part of our, quote/unquote, “backyard” to an increasing realization in DC, and I think people are still getting their heads around that, that automatic support, automatic alignment, can no longer be expected whether it is in Mexico, Guatemala, Panama, and then on down into South America, which I know is our focus today, governments like Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, another country where we’ve seen a lot of change on this front even in the last couple years and, again, not just because there’s a leftist president in Colombia now because his predecessor, who I’ve already mentioned, Iván Duque, was one of the main people pushing this change. So that’s a lot to digest. I’m happy to take any questions and hear from you. So thank you. CASA: Thanks, Brian, for that comprehensive introduction. Now let’s open it up to questions. (Gives queuing instructions.) Our first question is a written question and it comes from Andrea Cuervo Prados, who is an adjunct instructor at Dickinson State University, and asks, what is your perspective regarding the new leftist president of Colombia and U.S. relations? What is the risk that Colombia could turn into another Venezuela? WINTER: Right. It’s a good question. I think that we are still figuring out exactly what Gustavo—not only who Gustavo Petro is but what his ambitions are for both Colombia and for his relationships with the rest of the region and the rest of the world. There is some distance between what he has said he wants to do and what he may be able to do. This is a president who, you know, talks in these grand sweeping terms but ultimately has to get things through congress, and to just cite a result or an example of this that doesn’t directly have to do with Colombia’s foreign relationships, he said—he gave a very dramatic speech at the UN General Assembly last September in which he talked about the need to legalize narcotics across the board, including cocaine. But then—it was a speech that generated a lot of attention in capitals all over the world and all over the region. But then in ensuing weeks when he was pressed on this he didn’t really have a lot of detail and admitted that it was not something that Colombia could do unilaterally, which is all to say that, again, there’s this gap where I think it’s important to pay careful attention to the gap between the rhetoric and what’s actually possible with Petro. I don’t personally—you know, the question of could X country become another Venezuela it’s a question that people have been asking all over Latin America for the last ten years. I think—I understand why people ask it because what happened in Venezuela was so awful and dramatic, not only with the country becoming a full-fledged dictatorship that represses political opposition but also the humanitarian crisis that has forced some 7 million people or about a quarter of the country’s population to leave the country. But, look, Petro is Colombia’s first president on the left and I don’t think it necessarily follows that—in fact, I’m certain that it doesn’t follow that every person on the left wants to go down the path of Venezuela. So I suppose I’m a little more optimistic not only that Petro is a pragmatist in areas like the economy—for example, his finance minister is a quite pragmatic figure, a Columbia University professor who is well respected by markets—and I’m also somewhat optimistic about Colombian institutions and their ability to stand in the way of any truly radical change. CASA: Thank you. Our next question comes from Morton Holbrook, who is an adjunct professor at Kentucky Wesleyan College. Morton? Q: Hello. Yes, I’m here. Morton Holbrook, Kentucky Wesleyan College. University of Louisville also. Thanks for your really interesting comments, especially about China’s relationship with Latin and South America. Can I turn north a little bit to Russia? Considering particularly the Brazilian president’s upcoming visit to China do you think he might want to go to Russia, too? Bearing in mind that the International Criminal Court just issued an arrest warrant for President Putin, how might that affect Latin American relations with Russia? Do you think some of them might now have second thoughts about Russia or inviting Putin to visit their countries? Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, Venezuela have all signed the ICC statute promising to cooperate in the carrying out of arrest warrants. Thank you. WINTER: That’s a great question and one that is—I can tell you is very front of mind for Brazilian officials and I think others around the region right now. I was just in Brazil two weeks ago working on our—our next issue of Americas Quarterly will be on Brazil’s foreign policy and what it means for the rest of Latin America. This is a question that’s very front and center. Brazil’s foreign minister did say in the last couple of days—he did explicitly almost word for word repeat what you just said, which is that Brazil is a signatory to that treaty. That would seem to eliminate any possibility of Vladimir Putin visiting Brazil. I’m not sure that that was really on his list of things to do anyway. But it was not only a practical signal but a diplomatic one as well. Lula’s position on Russia and the Ukraine war has been inconsistent. He said during his campaign last year that Zelensky and Putin bear equal responsibility for the conflict. My understanding is that after that statement, you know, nobody wants to contradict the boss openly and sometimes not even in private. My sense personally based on conversations with others in Brasilia is that at the very least his foreign policy team regretted that he made that statement. Brazil has, in other form, condemned the Russian invasion. Other governments including Chile, Argentina, Colombia, and others have done the same. However, these are countries that, like most of the Global South, are firmly opposed to any sanctions and so their position, again, ends up being I suppose you could call it nuanced. They believe it’s important in part because of their own experience as nations to condemn invasions of one country by another. I, personally, think that it’s fair to think of what Putin is doing is a kind of imperialist aggression, which these are countries that have certainly objected to that when it’s the U.S. over the last, you know, 200-plus years and so you would think that it would be in their DNA to do so in the Ukrainian case as well, and in fairness most of them have. I would just add that, you know, the Brazilian position, I think, though, gets influenced also by two other things. One is, again, this notion of nonalignment. Most people talk about nonalignment in Brazil and Argentina, in Chile and Colombia, and they think about the U.S.-China relationship, as I noted during my introductory remarks. But they also think of it as a helpful guide to thinking about the conflict, the war in Ukraine, as well for reasons that are not firmly rooted in morals or values, let’s say, but in interests as, you know, foreign policy often is. To say it in a different way, I had a conversation a couple of years ago with former Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso, who I helped him write his memoir in English back in 2006. He was president during the 1990s, and in talking with him about the China question he said, we have to take advantage of our greatest strategic asset, which is that Brazil is far. (Laughs.) And to just unpack that a little bit, I think the meaning of that is clear to all of you. But these are countries that really see an opportunity right now just by virtue of their geographic distance from these conflict zones to avoid being dragged in and also to potentially, at some level, benefit from it through strategic superpower competition for their support as well as through higher prices for some of the commodities that they produce. There’s one added element in the case of Brazil, which is that Lula, I’m told by people close to him, sees himself as almost a Nelson Mandela-type figure. He’s back now for his third term in the presidency twenty years after he was president the first time. Of course, I’m sure people on this call know that he went through some real struggles in the intervening years including nearly two years in prison over—on corruption charges that were later thrown out and, you know, he may see his presidency as an opportunity to kind of write the last chapter or two in his biography, and there’s talk that he wants a Nobel Peace Prize and that he sees potentially helping negotiate a peace deal for the Ukraine war as the best opportunity to do that. I actually think that that idea, which is—tends to be dismissed in Washington as well as in European capitals, I personally think that idea is not as crazy as some people here in Washington think. But maybe I can go into that a little bit later if anybody wants. CASA: Thank you. Next, we have two written questions from the same university that we can take together. They’re from Marisa Perez and Trevor Collier, who are undergraduate students at Lewis University. They would like to know what world leaders such as the United States can do to prevent deforestation of the Amazon rainforest and how they can do so without compromising Brazil’s sovereignty. WINTER: Well, it’s a really great question, in part because it mentions an issue that Americans don’t often think about, which is precisely the sensitivity on the sovereignty issue. Brazil, and specifically not only Brazil’s military but Brazil’s foreign policy establishment, have a long-standing concern that is part of their doctrine, I suppose you could say, that is concerned always about the possibility of territorial loss and about foreigners gaining influence or, in some cases, even control over the Amazon. And I have to say, you know, this is another one of those ideas that I think—I wish we were all together in a room. This Zoom is kind of the next best thing. I could see your faces that way. But sometimes when I talk about this I see people kind of roll their eyes as if it was some sort of imagined conspiracy. But the truth is that as recently as 2019 when the—the first year of Jair Bolsonaro’s government when the fires in the Amazon really became a huge controversy, driven in large part by social media and tweets from people like Justin Bieber and Cher, who, to be clear, were, I think, justifiably and quite heroically shining light on what was happening there. In the midst of all that Emmanuel Macron actually proposed that perhaps some sort of international force in the Amazon was necessary, that that deployment of that would be a good idea if Brazil was not capable of taking care of the Amazon itself. That proposal was disastrous because it just reinforced this long-standing fear that so much of the establishment in Brazil has always had, and it’s true that Bolsonaro was on the right but you, certainly, in conversations, I think, with people across the ideological spectrum this is something that people think about. So OK. So back to the original question, how can the U.S. help. Well, the U.S. could help by providing both logistical and financial resources beyond the $50 million, which is, you know, the equivalent of about seven seconds of what we’re spending in terms of supporting Ukraine right now. I don’t know—Norway is the biggest sponsor of the Amazon Fund. I don’t have that number in front of me but I think that their contribution is upwards of at least a billion dollars, probably more. Ultimately, though, I do believe that the Amazon is a local challenge and I know that can be unsatisfying to hear in forums like this where we’re sort of designed—you know, this is a CFR event. We’re supposed to be thinking of ways that the international community can get involved. But it’s going to be a big challenge. The good news is that Brazil has shown that it is capable of getting its hands around this problem before. During Lula’s first terms in office from 2003 to 2010 his government was able to reduce the level of deforestation by upwards of 75 percent. It was a very dramatic difference in a very short period of time. This was done through a variety of means, both things like satellite monitoring and new technology that let the authorities follow this in real time. They were also able to step up environmental enforcement agencies like IBAMA, whose inspectors are necessary. It’s necessary to have them on the ground in order to, you know, stop—actually stop illegal loggers from setting the fires that are the main driver of deforestation. They were also able to build political consensus around the need to reduce deforestation during those years. I don’t think it’s going to be—in fact, I’m certain it will not be as “easy,” quote/unquote, this time around. A lot has changed. The upwards of 60 percent increase that we saw in deforestation during the Bolsonaro years had the support, unfortunately, in my view, of local populations who believe essentially that slashing and burning will lead their day-to-day economic lives to improve. In the election that happened in October where Lula won and Bolsonaro lost but by a very small margin—the closest margin in Brazil’s modern democratic history—the strongest support nationally for Bolsonaro was in areas that have seen the most illegal deforestation over the last four years and what that tells you is that, again, these are local populations that believe that this will lead to greater wealth and greater well-being for all of them, this being deforestation. So that’s a big challenge for Lula with a—you know, at a time when resources are fairly scarce. It’s not like it was during his first presidency when all of this increase in Chinese trade was really boosting the amount of money in Brazil’s coffers. So he’s going to have to figure out a way to dedicate financial resources as well as convince local populations that this is in their interest to do it. It’s not going to be an easy road. CASA: Our next question comes from Mike Nelson, an affiliate adjunct professor at Georgetown University. Mike? Q: Thank you very much for an outstanding overview of what’s going on in U.S. relations to South America. I study international technology policy and data governance but my question is about corruption. You mentioned corruption in Brazil but it’s a problem throughout South America, and my three-part question, is it getting worse or better; are there any countries who have really done the right thing and have taken serious measures to address it; and how can the internet and some of the technologies for citizen journalism help expose corruption and make leaders less likely to dip into the public fund? WINTER: OK. Yeah. No, great questions, and reflective of if you look at opinion polling and remember that these are countries that many of them have been dealing with rising crime, rising homicide levels, economic stagnation, the pandemic, which hit Latin America by many measures harder than in any other region in the world at one point—I haven’t seen updated numbers on this but it was fairly consistently throughout the pandemic Latin America, which is about 8 percent of the world’s population, was accounting for about 30 percent of the world’s confirmed COVID deaths. Anyway, amid all of that, and the economic stagnation that has been such a problem over the last ten years, in a lot of countries and in public opinion surveys, the thing that people identified as the number-one problem in their country is corruption. That was not always true. If you look back at public polling twenty years ago, people tended to identify kind of more, what’s the word, basic needs—think, like, unemployment, hunger, misery, which often is kind of asked as a separate—that’s one of the boxes you can check. Twenty years ago, those were the issues. And as the region became more middle class, especially in the 2000s because of this China-driven economic growth that described during my introduction, a lot of people were able to move beyond their basic needs and focus on essentially what was happening to the money that they paid in taxes, keeping in mind that many people were paying taxes for the first time. Some of it surely was also driven by these things, as you mentioned, mobile phones that not only things like videos of people carrying suitcases of cash, but also the attention that was given to big corruption scandals. Previously in a lot of countries, governments were able to make pacts with newspapers and TV channels, and kind of tamp things down a little bit, and lower the temperature. In an era of Facebook and Twitter, that was no longer as easy for them to do. All of this culminated in several corruption scandals at once in the mid-2010s, the most emblematic of which was the so-called Lava Jato, or car wash, scandal, which originated in Brazil, but eventually had franchises, if you will, in almost a dozen countries throughout Latin America and the world. That story is complicated. Politicians all over the region went to jail. Business leaders did too. Lula was one of them. That was the case that put him in jail. In intervening years, we’ve discovered that there were abuses and procedural violations, both things on behalf of the prosecutors and the judge involved, who the Brazilian Supreme Court decided, I think in 2021, they ruled—maybe it was earlier than that—that the judge overseeing Lula’s conviction had not been—or, rather, it’s easier to say—had been partial in his rulings. And so that’s left us in a place today where populations are still angry about corruption, as I mentioned, but it is no longer driving conversation in most countries, like it did before. I still believe—and you can probably tell, this is something I’ve thought about a lot over the years and continue to watch. The first question you asked, in some ways, is the most important one. Is corruption getting worse or better? It’s impossible to know for sure. My hypothesis is actually corruption is about the same, and may in fact be getting better, which flies in the face of all of these headlines that we’ve seen. But to me, the operative question over these last ten years or so has been, you know, not why—I’ve heard people say, well, why are these—why are these countries so corrupt? And to me, the real question is, why are we suddenly seeing these cases of corruption? Because I think it speaks to not only the technological changes that I referenced, but also the improvement—(audio break)—these are countries many of which transitioned from dictatorship to democracy in the 1980s and early 1990s. And therefore, it really took a generation for independent prosecutors to show up, to have the training and political support that they needed to go after some very powerful people. So, in sum, I am a believer in the story of rule of law improving in many countries in Latin America. I would recognize, again, that it’s a very complex story, in part because of some of the problems around not just Lava Jato but in other countries, such as Peru and Guatemala. But progress is rarely linear. (Laughs.) And I still think that this is something that is likely to get better with time. CASA: Our next question is a written one from Mary Beth Altier at New York University. She asks: What role do you think misinformation and disinformation play in citizens’ perceptions of the U.S. versus China and Russia in Latin America? What could the U.S. do better from a strategic communications perspective, if anything? And then—I can repeat this other question later, which is kind of a follow up. So you think— WINTER: Yeah, maybe. Well, that first one—that first one is worthy of a book. All of these are—these are great questions. They’re difficult to answer in pithy fashion in three minutes. I am continually impressed by the quality of Russian propaganda in Latin America. Those guys are really good. You look at RT en Español—(changes pronunciation)—RT en Español—it has one of the biggest social media followings of any “media company,” quote/unquote, in the region. Even people who I know are—who I know to not be pro-Russia, let’s put it that way, I see sharing content and videos from RT, which, of course, is just as pure a propaganda arm as you can get of the Russian government. But also, you know, have a whole network of sites that are more subtle and that push very sophisticated and sometimes, you know, not particularly obvious narratives that are designed to undermine the United States or promote the views of China and Russia. I would recognize at the same time that—I referenced this during my introduction remarks, sometimes the United States does not need any help with it comes to undermining its reputation in the region. I mentioned some of the, quote/unquote “own goals” that we’ve seen over the last five to ten, even twenty years, going all the way back to the Iraq War. As far as actively pushing back, all I can say is this: You know, I think that they’re—on the one hand, I think there are concrete steps that are being used. We’re still trying to get our heads around this problem to fight misinformation. But I was just in a different forum this morning where I was asked, what—how can the U.S. help the cause of democracy in Latin America. And my answer to that is that the best thing the United States can do to help democracy in Latin America is to get its own house in order, to move past the polarization, the misinformation, and the scorched earth politics that have put our own democracy at risk over the last several years, and try to, you know, recapture some of the consensus, at least around basic democratic rules of the game and how we hold elections that characterized most of the previous two-hundred-plus years of our history. Because I do think that while—you know, look, I lived ten years in Latin America. I know that people roll their eyes at the notion of the United States as being kind of the shining city on the hill. And I understand why. And that was always true, in part because of the long history of U.S. intervention in Latin America often showing, you know, some of our worst behaviors. On the other hand, as a Brazil specialist, I’ve seen how some of the tactics and even some of the same people that were behind our own democratic decay of the last five years, some of those same tactics were repackaged and exported to open arms in Brazil. So I do think that it makes a difference on the ground in places like Brazil, potentially, and other countries as well, when a strong democratic example is being set in the United States. And I think that’s the most powerful thing we can do. Some of the other stuff, like what’s happening on RT and Telesur and some of these other outlets is relatively outside our control. CASA: We have a complementary question from— WINTER: There was a second part of that question. CASA: Oh, no, you did end up answering, I think, what could the U.S. do better from a strategic communications perspective. I think you kind of covered that. We have another question from Gursimran Padda, a student at Stony Brook University, who asks: Does China’s strategy of gaining influence in Latin America differ from its tactics in Africa? And if so, why? WINTER: Gosh, all these great questions. China—I have to start from the beginning. I am not an African specialist. But I can tell you kind of the narrative of what happened in Africa through Latin American eyes, if that makes any sense, because this is a conversation I’ve had a lot over the years. The perception is that China went into some of these countries in sub-Saharan Africa, and engaged in infrastructure projects and other things that had abusive terms. In many cases, China imported its own labor to do some of these projects. They also engaged in some predatory lending practices. And that was all—essentially the takeaway from actions like that in places like Buenos Aires, Bogota, certainly Brasilia, was that the Chinese would not be allowed to come and engage in those same behaviors in Latin America. And I think, in practice, it seems that the Chinese have realized that. There have been examples, such as the construction of a dam in Ecuador, where the terms ended up being perceived as something of a debt trap. But my sense—again, and this is not so much my sense; it’s repeating what I’ve heard in numerous conversations about this subject with leaders across the ideological spectrum and throughout the region—is that they understand the risks involved in working with China, in part because of the experience throughout parts of sub-Saharan Africa. And they’re determined to not let those things happen in their home countries. You know, I know that that’s a view that, in places like where I am today—I’m on in the road in Washington, participated in this other conference this morning. That’s why my Zoom background is not quite as put together as it sometimes is, by the way. I know people roll their eyes at that notion here, and are constantly warning—you know, kind of wagging their finger a little bit at governments throughout South America, and saying that they need to be eyes wide open about the risks of engagement with the Chinese. The problem is that here in the U.S., I think they’re underestimating, in some cases, the sophistication of foreign ministries and trade ministries in places like Peru and Chile when they make those comments. Which is to say, I think that there’s something both visually and in terms of the context a bit paternalistic about it, that everybody picks up on and tends to make people in the region justifiably crazy. (Laughs.) And then, the other part is that the U.S. is not really offering much in the way of alternatives. We’re at a pretty unique moment in the history of the United States right now where we have both parties—the Republican and Democratic Parties—are pretty much closed to the idea of new free trade deals. That, in my lifetime, has never happened before. I mentioned the fact that Trump dropped out of TPP. Well, Joe Biden has not picked that back up. I think there are domestic political reasons that explain that, but what it means in practice for our relationships with governments in Latin America is that Washington doesn’t have a whole lot to offer. Because, unlike the Chinese, we can’t just order our companies to go invest someplace. That’s not how our economy works. It is very much how the Chinese economy works, where they can decide to make these decisions. They are not necessarily for a short-term economic payoff, but for medium-term reasons, or even decisions that have very little to do with dollars and cents or ROI, return on investment, and everything to do with geopolitics. So wanting to have beachheads in terms of, say, ports in places like El Salvador. So, you know, again, without that—without trade and without that ability to kind of dictate investment, there’s not a lot that’s left in Washington’s toolkit for counteracting this kind of influence. CASA: Our next question comes from Daniel Izquierdo, an undergraduate student at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Daniel. Q: Good afternoon, sir, ma’am. Thank you for taking the time. I just had a quick question on the increasing tensions between China and the U.S., and how that will kind of develop itself in Latin and South America. So given the strategic interests of Latin and South America, and the persistent political unrest, along with increasing tensions between China and the U.S., what do you believe the likelihood to be of proxy conflicts or foreign meddling, similar to what occurred during the Cold War, occurring in the region? And if not, how do you foresee the U.S. and China competing for influence in the region? WINTER: So another very good question. Thank you for that. Look, I think some of this ground we’ve covered already, but I would say that, you know, you’re the first to mention—I had not previously mentioned this idea of a new cold war. And this—you know, this is another reason why so many countries across the ideological spectrum are opting for this policy of nonalignment. Essentially because they believe that the first Cold War went badly, very badly, for Latin America. It resulted in all kinds of traumas, from the wars in Central America during the 1980s to U.S. support for coups in places like Chile, to, you know, Cuban meddling in places like Bolivia and elsewhere around the region during those years, which led to the rise of guerrilla movements like the FARC, that ended up killing very high numbers of people. And so essentially, you know, not to be glib about it, but the reaction that today’s generation has is: We want no part of this. Because it didn’t go well for us the first time. I think there are obvious differences between a conflict between the U.S. and the Soviet Union back in the 1950s and 1960s, and this strategic competition between Washington and Beijing, that thankfully has not quite reached those heights, at least not yet, here in the twenty-first century. But I have to tell you, and again this is based on conversations I’m having all the time, the fear is real. The perception is that the world may be headed back to that kind of conflict, being driven not only by what’s happening in the Ukraine but the increasing speculation of potential war over Taiwan. So this, again, as far as—as far as how it could play out in practice, I think it’s still early. I think it remains to be seen. Right now there is—you know, there are clear cases where I think the Chinese are, as I alluded to in my previous answer, making investments not for economic reasons but for strategic ones, with a long-term horizon I mind. Things like the, quote/unquote, “space base” that they’ve established in Argentina, which really is deserving of the full air quotes when we say the phrase “space base.” I think everyone senses that—you know, that that conflict—or, that competition, if you will, is likely to define the next twenty to thirty years. And I think there’s a determination in most countries, it makes a lot of sense to me personally, that they don’t want their countries used again as a chessboard amid that larger conflict. CASA: Our next question comes from Damien Odunze. He’s assistant professor at Delta State University who writes: Ideas in the long run change the world. Do you think a closer educational collaboration between U.S. universities and those in Latin and South America could help shape and strengthen liberal democratic values in those countries? WINTER: What an interesting question. Look, let me talk first about kind of the—that equation today. There’s already quite a lot of connectivity, especially at the—at, you know, not a word I love to use, but at the elite level, the elites in government and business and U.S. education systems. Which is an unnecessarily wordy way of saying that a large percentage of people in South America come from the elite classes and get educated at universities and sometimes even at high schools in the United States. That is one reason why, again, many of these governments are likely to at least forge a middle path between China and the United States, rather than going full-fledged in the direction of China. I think there’s a cultural affinity, family ties, cultural ties, educational ties, and other things that are probably kind of the strongest connection that the U.S. has with a lot of these countries right now. As to whether a strengthening of those educational ties would improve dedication and the strength of democracy, whew. It could, but I watched with dismay as poll after poll suggests that younger generations, not just in the United States but across the Western world, are less committed in theory to both democracy and democratic institutions than their predecessors. And so I wonder just—I don’t have an answer to this—but I wonder if even, quote/unquote, “even” within the United States, if we’re properly instilling an appreciation for democracy in today’s generations, which then raises the question of whether we’d be able to do so amongst the youth of other countries as well. I’m not sure. I think this is another area where, you know, in the U.S. we have some work to do at home before we start thinking about what’s possible in other countries. CASA: Our next question comes from Mary Meyer McAleese, who is a professor of political science at Eckerd College in Florida. Mary. Q: Yes. Good afternoon and thank you for this opportunity. I have, well, two questions. I hope they’re quick. The first one is, what do you think the effect will be on Latin America or South America with regard to the failure of the Silicon Valley Bank? I read that a lot of Latin American businesses have had investments in that bank, so I wonder if you could say a bit more about the banking situation and the longer-term effects there. And also, gender violence, of course, is a horrible problem all around the world, but especially in Latin and South America. What do you think the United States and the Americas Society could do to support groups in the region that are fighting against gender violence? Thank you. WINTER: Well, thank you for both questions. Both very good questions. There’s been a lot of talk about SVB and possible effects in Latin America. What I’ve heard from people who are far more knowledgeable about the financial—excuse me—the financial system than I am, is that as long as it does not spread and become a more systemic risk, it should not pose much of an issue for Latin America. In part because—and this is another area where just like—where we were talking about the courts having, I think, been engaged in a thirty-year long process of improvement—I think the same can be said of banking and financial systems around most of Latin America. My first job was covering the financial crisis that Argentina went through back in 2001 and 2002. Which, for the uninitiated, that saw five presidents in two weeks, a freeze of bank deposits, and a 70 percent devaluation of the currency. It was quite a traumatic thing to be a part of. And during those years, we saw similar—well, not quite as bad—but at least thematically similar crises in Brazil, Colombia, and elsewhere, following other crises in the 1990s. Which is all to say, Latin America has been curiously quiet this time around in terms of financial contagion. The economies aren’t doing well, for the most part, but at least we’re not talking about a financial meltdown. And that is because of lessons learned. These are banking systems that now have stricter capital requirements than they did in the past. And the macroeconomic fundamentals, generally speaking, are better than they were twenty years ago. Argentina, of course, is kind of in trouble again with an inflation rate that just passed 100 percent. And that’s terrible. But again, the depth—(laughs)—everything’s relative. And the depth of just financial devastation is, thankfully, nothing compared to what it was when I was there twenty-plus years ago. So, you know, we’ll see. If the bank run spreads and we start seeing other banks come in trouble here in the U.S., then my sense is that, with the whole Credit Suisse thing, and we’re not out of the woods yet. But if it stays more or less contained, then the consensus, at least so far, is that Latin America should be fine. Your question about femicide is an excellent one. It has driven the political discussion in Brazil in recent years. It’s something that President Lula has spoken movingly about. It has also been, on the other end in Mexico, the feminist movement that has had femicides as one of the main areas of concern, has been one of the most effective opposition groups to President López Obrador, who has often been, sadly in my view, dismissive of the seriousness of that problem. As far as what the United States can do to help, or even what my own organization can do, I think that in a lot of cases these are—you know, like a lot of problems—there are things that the international community can do to help. And certainly, I see things from a journalist’s perspective, even though I’m more analyst than journalist these days. I think that shining light on these problems, using vehicles like—platforms like Americas Quarterly, which is the small publication about Latin American politics that I run, that’s, you know, my own insufficient contribution to looking at his problem. But it’s certainly one—I mean, we look at the numbers in places like Brazil. I don’t have those numbers on my fingertips, but it is just an incredibly serious problem, and one that deserves more attention. CASA: Thank you, Brian. We have so many other questions. I’m really sorry, though, we have to cut off now. We’re at the hour. But this has been a very interesting discussion. And you’ve covered an enormous amount of ground. Thank you to all of you participating for your great questions. I hope you will follow Brian on Twitter at @BrazilBrian. The next Academic Webinar will take place on Wednesday, March 29, at 1:00 Eastern Time. Renee Hobbs, professor of communication studies at the University of Rhode Island, will lead a conversation on media literacy and propaganda. In the meantime, I encourage you to learn about CFR paid internships for students and fellowships for professors at CFR.org/Careers. Follow at @CFR_Academic on Twitter and visit CFR.org, ForeignAffairs.com, and ThinkGlobalHealth.org for research and analysis on global issues. Thank you, again, for joining us today, and we look forward to you tuning in again for our webinar on March 29. Bye. WINTER: Bye. Thank you. (END)
  • United States
    Higher Education Webinar: Disability Inclusion on Campus and in International Affairs
    Play
    Ashley Holben, interim manager and project specialist with the National Clearinghouse on Disability and Exchange and executive specialist to the chief executive officer at Mobility International USA, leads the conversation on disability inclusion on campus and in international affairs. FASKIANOS: Welcome to CFR’s Higher Education Webinar Series. I’m Irina Faskianos, vice president of the National Program and Outreach here at CFR. Today’s discussion is on the record, and the video and transcript will be available on our website, CFR.org/Academic if you’d like to share it with your colleagues. You can enable the closed captioning by clicking on the icon on your laptop or on your iPad in the “More” button. If you click on that you can show captions. So I encourage you to do that. As always, CFR takes no institutional positions on matters of policy. We’re delighted to have Ashley Holben with us today to discuss disability inclusion on campus and in international affairs. Ms. Holben is interim manager and project specialist with the National Clearinghouse on Disability and Exchange, and executive specialist to the CEO at Mobility International USA. In these roles, she develops initiatives and resources to increase participation and inclusion of students with disabilities in international exchange. So, Ashley, thanks very much for being with us. Let’s just get right to it. If you could discuss and share with us the importance of disability inclusion in higher education institutions and international affairs, and share what you have found to be some of the best practices to do so on college campuses. HOLBEN: Certainly. Well, thank you so much, Irina, and thanks so much to the entire CFR team for putting this topic on the agenda of this webinar series. It’s such a fantastic opportunity to discuss an often misunderstood topic but a very prominent community, which is people with disabilities in higher education. And so really appreciate all of those who are joining today to tune in, and welcome. And, you know, the CFR team shared with me the roster of folks who were planning to attend and one thing that really stood out to me is kind of the really wide breadth of expertise and departments represented and positions represented. So it’s really encouraging to see so many different types of leadership wanting to discuss this further and wanting to share practices. So I’m looking forward to doing that today and I really hope to hear from some of those who are tuning in with your expertise and observations and activities as well, and I am delighted to share some—just observations of my own in this role at the National Clearinghouse on Disability and Exchange (NCDE). As Irina said, this is a project that’s housed at Mobility International USA since 1995. But we’re sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, really, in order to promote the participation of people with disabilities in international exchange between the U.S. and other countries, and that is to say kind of to the end we provide tips and strategies for people with disabilities and international program staff on how to prepare for an inclusive international exchange. So, before I kind of dive in, I just wanted to define these terms a little bit because it’s not always clear what we mean by international exchange. But, basically, we’re talking about everything from study abroad, teach abroad, volunteering, research, professional visitor exchanges. Also, cultural like arts, sports programs. So try to picture a U.S. college student going abroad for a semester or an international student coming to the U.S., a Peace Corps volunteer, Fulbright scholars, and so on. And we’re—the genesis of this project is really because people with disabilities are taking advantage of these same opportunities as nondisabled people in order to advance their educational/career goals, their personal goals. And that kind of brings me to kind of another definition—a loose definition—that people often wonder, well, what do you mean by people with disabilities, and by that that includes people with physical or mobility disabilities, sensory disabilities, chronic health conditions, intellectual or developmental disabilities. That includes mental health disabilities, neurodiversity learning disabilities. And then keep in mind that disabilities can be apparent or nonapparent. And then also somebody’s disability might be apparent certain times and not others—for example, if they use assistive devices on some days but don’t need them on other days. So one topic that I really—is close to our hearts in our world is this theme of disability as diversity, and I saw on the roster—I was really excited to see that there were some folks who registered who are, for example, the director of diversity and inclusion, DEI specialists, and so on, and it’s so encouraging to see that higher education is really embracing this diversity, equity, and inclusion, implementing DEI strategies kind of throughout all areas of higher ed. And so, with this in mind it’s really vital to recognize that disability is part of diversity and not separate from it. Too often folks want to separate the two. Or, disability is an aspect of diversity that can get overlooked in diversity initiatives, we find, too often. So that inclusion of people with disabilities is really fundamental to be able to—and acting on that commitment to diversity at the institutional level. And then, for many, disability is an important facet of their identity, connecting someone to a larger disability community—for instance, disability pride, disability culture, history, and more. So it’s really important to keep that in mind in any discussion related to DEI. And just as important, many people with disabilities have identities in addition to their disability identity. So, for example, a person with a disability can also be a person of color, a first-generation college student, LGBTQ, an immigrant. And so one thing that we find often when we’re talking to people with disabilities about their experience is, there was so much focus on my disability that we completely forgot—(laughs)—to talk about these other aspects of myself that are important to me. So I think that’s definitely a good lesson. If anyone out there is more interested in this topic of disability intersectionality, I want to just kind of do a little plug for a publication that I’m really excited about that we put forth last year on Intersections Abroad, which I’m holding up to the screen. I think it might be blurred out, unfortunately, but—(laughs)—oh, here we go. FASKIANOS: It’s a little blurry but we’ll— HOLBEN: It’s a little blurry. FASKIANOS: (Inaudible)—anyway. HOLBEN: But it’s Intersections Abroad: “Travelers with disabilities explore identity and diversity through a lens of international exchange.” So it’s a series of travelers’ stories, interviews with people with different types of disabilities including people who are blind or have chronic health conditions or who are on the autism spectrum but who also want to describe what their study abroad experiences in different countries was like as a person of color or as someone with a religious identity or someone who brings all these unique experiences to their international exchange experience itself. For those of you who—I know we have a lot of different folks joining the call. On the higher education campus, people with disabilities not only includes students but also faculty, staff, administrators, campus leaders, visitors, and institutions often have dedicated staff or offices to support individual level disability accommodations and also to promote disability access more broadly across campus. So I noticed some folks who registered for this event come from, for example, Office of Student Accessibility, Office of Disability Services, Office of Student Support and Success. We had—I saw an access and accommodations coordinator, an ADA compliance coordinator. So these are all some examples of the types of folks who are working to help promote access at the—in higher education. You can also find counseling centers, tutoring centers. There are a growing number of campuses that are providing services tailored for students on the autism spectrum and also those that are tailored for students with intellectual disabilities, which is really interesting. And if you want to learn more about that I encourage you to check out the organization Think College. But in addition to campus accessibility and disability support services you’re going to find other entities that help promote disability community, disability history, disability rights, representation and visibility. For example, student groups led by and for students with disabilities. I saw one of the registrants—there were a couple of registrants on this event who are representing the Harvard Law School Project on Disability to, as they describe, use their learning in comparative and international law to advance understanding regarding disability law, policy, and education around the world. So it’s really exciting to see just kind of all the different ways in which higher education can support and promote disability access and inclusion in different ways in representation. Another topic that we are really passionate about at the NCDE is disability-inclusive campus internationalization, especially when it comes to the international exchange aspect of internationalization. So take education abroad, for instance. For the most part, I think a huge bulk of our resources relate to students—college students with disabilities who study abroad. That’s a big chunk of our resources, and we get a lot of questions about that from international exchange administrators and international study abroad advisors and coordinators about how can we provide some support to these students who want to study abroad who might have some specific disability-related accommodations they might need abroad, or everything from how can we attract students with disabilities to participate in our programs, and so on. So you’re going to find a lot of those types of resources in our library. But, education abroad that can also encompass faculty with disabilities leading trips abroad, and it’s really exciting to be able to connect with some faculty with disabilities who can share some of their stories with us about arranging these types of exchange programs. And the programs that they’re leading may or may not have a disability theme, depending on what their scholarly background is. However, I’ve observed that some education abroad curricula does include disability-related themes. So one example is at California State University in Northridge. One of their faculty led an exchange program called “Black Deaf Activism: Culture and Education in South Africa,” bringing together a lot of students from their campus who identify either as deaf, as Black, or both, and more. So that was really exciting to follow their journey through South Africa, again, with those different lenses. And then, of course, people with disabilities working in the international exchange field—in the international education field as advisors, administrators, and more, and that’s always something that we get really excited about at the Clearinghouse. We kind of proselytize a little bit to people with disabilities about, oh, have you thought about entering a career in international education so that we can see more disability representation and leadership within that field. A lot of students with disabilities are—and without disabilities are kind of blown away in a good way to see some of that disability representation in the kind of leadership level of that field and so that’s something that we try to encourage in some different ways that I’ll get to a little later. And then on the flip side of education abroad we also want to see disability-inclusive campus internationalization in the form of international student recruitment, so welcoming international students and scholars with disabilities to U.S. higher education, and that comprises another large segment of the resources housed at NCDE. So for those of you who advise international students and scholars on your campus or who are connected to the recruiting side to bring students with disabilities to the U.S., or bring international students to us, ESL offices and instructors. We want to work with them to make sure that they’re aware of the international students with disabilities. These are fantastic opportunities for them, too, and but they also might have some different cultural expectations related to disability. They might be used to a different type of system of accessibility and accommodations or a lack thereof. And, most recently we’ve talked to a lot of international students who are expressing an interest in connecting with other students with disabilities during their stay in the U.S., whether it’s other American students or other international students with disabilities. And so one thing that we’re excited to do in the near future is think of some ways that maybe we can help facilitate these types of connections on kind of a peer-mentor type model. Another focus of campus internationalization can be offering coursework on international disability rights. One prominent example in my mind is the University of Oregon’s “Global Perspectives on Disability” course because it’s co-taught by MIUSA’s own CEO, Susan Sygall, who is a woman with a disability, and what’s interesting is that that course is cross listed on campus with international studies, special education, and disability studies. So, you know, disability is such a cross-cutting issue. There’s really no topic or department or educational focus that doesn’t—that can’t touch upon disability, inclusion, and access. And so the “Global Perspectives on Disability” course at the U of O is one that’s been running for several years and it’s fantastic. We’re able to bring some guest presenters who are often disabled women leaders from countries around the world to share about their experiences in disability rights, disability policy, movement building, and so on. And then, one last example I’ll share, but not to say the last one, is access to foreign language learning and ESL and really ensuring that, you know, those are so vital to promoting campus internationalization and often they’re linked to these international exchange experiences, education abroad, and so on. But, sometimes we hear from people with disabilities that they were discouraged from taking a foreign language class because of assumptions about what they’re able to do. So, for example, like a person who is deaf, there might be some assumptions that they can’t participate in a foreign language class. And so, we would really promote any person with a disability to see if learning a foreign language is something that would help further their goals, personal, career wise, or otherwise. And so, I do want to hear your—all of your questions and your—not just questions but also just sharing from your experiences. But before we do that, I do want to just say a little bit about NCDE resources so that you’re aware of what we have in our library. That is to say they all touch on this crossover of disability inclusion in international exchange and include everything from tips for recruiting people with disabilities in international exchange programs, disability-specific tips for international travel. So, if your wheelchair gets broken when you’re abroad, what might you do? Or, what are some different types of accommodations that a blind student might use or someone with dyslexia might use? Best practices from various U.S. higher education institutions. And I think that’s going to really appeal to the folks who are on this webinar today. We have—just like we’ve been able to interview international exchange alumni, students who’ve come back from their experiences abroad, and others, we’ve also really relied on higher ed professionals to share their best practices with us because, really, our resource is a compendium of expertise from the field. And so I would really encourage anyone here who maybe they have a best practice to share from their own campus that they’re working on and we would love to be able to add that as a resource to be able to share with our broader community. So if that’s of interest please get in touch. We also offer sample disability accommodation forms and questionnaires, which is really handy for those out there who are wanting to start a conversation around disability access but maybe don’t know the—don’t have the vocabulary or don’t have the language. These are kind of helpful guides that can help you take those next steps. And then, finally, one thing that I am really excited to share because this is a new—relatively new initiative on our part is we’ve started hosting an access to exchange externship for—and this is a resource you can share with your students—this is for students with disabilities, recent graduates and others, who want to use their experiences to further the mission to promote disability inclusion in international exchange. So they’re tasked with coming up with some kind of either a webinar or event or a country guide, some kind of resource that can help further this mission. And so some of them have created resources for peers like prospective study abroad students with disabilities or for the folks who are working in the international education field so that they can be more cognizant of—you know, from a disabled person’s point of view what are the supports needed or what can they be doing. And then our seminar—access to exchange seminar is for people with disabilities who have not had any international exchange experiences and, you know, or maybe it’s a little intimidating to take that first step, and so our seminar is really just trying to break it down and make it feel a little bit more comfortable to ask questions and help try to just instill some confidence in future international exchange participants with disabilities. So, well, let me stop there for the time being and let me put it to all of you. What I’d like to know is, given, again, just this very—all of the different types of departments and expertise that you’re all bringing with you today what are some of your own experiences, observations, activities, around disability inclusion on your campus and in international affairs. So I’d really like to hear from you all and I wonder if anyone would like to start. FASKIANOS: Great. Great. Thank you, Ashley. This is terrific and, yes, we want to go to everybody on the call. You can click the raised hand icon on your screen to ask a question, and on an iPad or tablet click the more button to access the raised hand feature, and when I call on you, you can accept the unmute prompt. Please state your name and affiliation followed by your question. You can also write your question in the Q&A box. If you do that, please say who you are. And we do have our first written question from Pearl Robinson, who is an associate professor at Tufts University: Does the Peace Corps offer opportunities for people with disabilities? HOLBEN: Thank you for that question. Oh, I’m so glad you asked. Absolutely. The Peace Corps encourages people with disabilities to participate in—as volunteers and, indeed, we have seen so many returned Peace Corps volunteers with disabilities come back and share their experiences. I think I referred earlier to a person who was discouraged from learning a language because she’s deaf, and she often shares, she really pushed back against that, insisted she wants to learn French and one of the happy results of her advocating for herself to be able to pursue French despite being discouraged from doing so is it enabled her to be able to serve in the Peace Corps in Francophone Cameroon, which was a life-changing event for her. And, actually, I know that there is an upcoming webinar that’s going to be hosted by a Peace Corps staff on volunteers with disabilities that will feature a number of returned Peace Corps volunteers. And so if that—I think that is coming up pretty soon. So I’ll share that information with Pearl individually or unless other people are interested I can share with you, Irina. But also the Peace Corps also has opportunities for shorter-term programs for folks with unique expertise and who have a specific area of specialized focus. And so we recently interviewed someone who took part in that program—it’s called Peace Corps Response—which worked out really well for her because she has some chronic health conditions and mobility disabilities that made that format work quite well for her. But, yes, we have lots of returned Peace Corps stories on our website about people with different types of disabilities who served and it’s really fun to read their stories and just really eye-opening as well. FASKIANOS: Great. So we have another question from Deena Mansour with the Mansfield Center: We’ve appreciated using some of your resources on our State Department exchanges. Could you speak to some of the most important ways you prepared others in a cohort, a predeparture orientation to support a colleague with disabilities, given that many countries have less—far less exposure and support than we have had in the U.S.? HOLBEN: Mmm hmm. Yeah. I would say—and that’s fantastic that you’re working with—being able to implement State Department exchanges as well. We’re really excited by any time we can provide resources related to, for instance, the Global UGRAD program or the Mandela Fellowship or Fulbright, whatever it might be. And then, as for predeparture orientations, this has been a topic that we’ve explored both in terms of international students coming to the U.S., which we just kind of put—created some new resources for that. But it sounds like what you’re asking is for folks going abroad—maybe coming from the U.S. and going abroad. I think it’s just really important that people with disabilities who are preparing to go abroad are—have a chance to research a bit about the country’s disability rights—not only disability rights laws but disability culture and context. We really encourage folks to try to do outreach to a disability-led organization, if possible, and some people who’ve been able to do that it’s led to a really fruitful relationship and really enhanced their experience to be able to meet with local people with disabilities who can share kind of the real experience on the ground, what it might be like. I think a lot of people are also—maybe aren’t prepared for just the feeling of kind of being—standing out and others are unprepared for—well, just to use an example from our Intersections Abroad publication that I shared earlier, one student who studied abroad who is blind, she really thought that people would only be interested in her blindness and only have questions about her blindness, and she was really surprised that when she arrived people had wanted to know about other things about her, too. And so I think just allowing some room for all aspects of yourself there can be really beneficial. It’s something that sounds simple but people might forget. And so kind of evaluating different identities that you have, what you want to get out of the experience. But it sounds like what you’re asking about is kind of more just on-the-ground—those logistics, those environmental barriers. And you can’t foresee all of them, but I think just one thing that’s really helpful is just getting an idea of, how do people in that destination approach disability access because, if you call a hotel or something like that and you say is this going to be disability accessible, I really encourage just trying to get a little bit more specific, because they might say yes because their idea of disability access is having some burly people lift you up over some stairs, whereas that might not be at all your idea of accessibility. And so some of these things you’re not going to know until you arrive. But if you can connect with another—a person with a similar disability who has traveled abroad or someone who has gone to the place where you’re going that can really be helpful, or talking to locals with disabilities. And then our resource library, that’s one of the things that, I think—I really hope is helpful to folks planning their trips abroad is to be able to read about the experiences of other travelers and kind of the types of things unexpected that they encountered during their travels that might help other folks just get into that mindset of what might be on the horizon. FASKIANOS: There’s a question from Kwaku Obosu-Mensah at Lorain County Community College: Do students with disabilities need special insurance to travel abroad in an exchange program? HOLBEN: That’s a great—thanks for that question. Not always. Some students who have maybe chronic health conditions have been able—sometimes their study abroad program, for instance, has been able to negotiate, like, a group rate of health insurance for—for example, if it’s a group of students who are going abroad, in case there’s some additional coverage needed related to preexisting conditions or disabilities. However, we’re also seeing a best practice in the form of international exchange departments and offices budgeting for some funds to be able to provide for students with disabilities in those instances where something’s not going to be covered by. It’s kind of an extenuating circumstance, whether it’s related to getting access to health care, kind of an emergency fund, or being able to help pay for some private transportation when the local public transportation is not accessible, to use a couple of examples. So I think you’re going to have to—it’s really important to check with the insurance company and find out what their policies are around that but also to consider negotiating what they’re able to cover to be as inclusive as possible. And that’s not always going to be able to happen in that way, in which case those contingency funds are going to help supplement whatever the insurance is not able to. FASKIANOS: Great. And people can also raise their hand and ask their questions and share best practices. But I will have another question—written question—from Kimberly Pace, University of Alaska Anchorage, which goes along with Kwaku’s question, which was—you just answered about health care for students—faculty with disabilities when engaged in study abroad programs. So it’d be great if you could elaborate on that. HOLBEN: So, with health care, I guess just some additional considerations related to health includes mental health. Some folks with chronic health conditions might need to just get some—do some extra preparation—not only chronic health conditions but other types of disabilities. People with disabilities planning to go abroad will sometimes need to just take some extra steps for preparation, for example, those who are taking medications in the U.S. Certain types of ADHD medications in the U.S. are not legal in certain countries where people study abroad, and so trying to get information about what types of health care you’re able to receive abroad, what types of prescriptions you’re able to bring into the country abroad, working with your health care professionals about whether or not to adjust any medications prior to travel, and then where are you going to be able to access medical supplies in case yours get depleted or are lost or stolen or break—you know, where to go if your mobility equipment breaks. And we do have some tip sheets kind of on these different types of disability topics related to, what happens if you get into this dilemma, how can you try to, for example, keep your mobility equipment or your medications—how do you travel with those things in such a way that kind of helps mitigate some of the risks of having things break or confiscated or flagged or whatever it might be. So it’s not, like, a simple answer but it’s absolutely really important predeparture. Part of the —it’s part of the research. It’s part of the process for going abroad and, unfortunately, it typically means building in some extra time for planning to go abroad. So we always encourage students with disabilities, even if you think you might possibly go abroad at some point in your college career it’s not too early to start planning for it now and start looking into some of these questions, and some of the guides that we have on our website are helpful just for thinking through what those questions might be because, as they say, you don’t know what you don’t know. And people will often think, well, I’ve got that taken care of, no problem. But they’re only considering it from a home environment perspective and not really thinking about how, well, is the host city infrastructure going to be able to support this accessibility software that I use or whatever it might be. So not just in terms of health care but other types of accommodations as well. FASKIANOS: Thank you. Can you elaborate on the difference between access and inclusion? I think it would be helpful to give those. HOLBEN: Well, I don’t think there needs to be a broad difference. But one thing that I would want to emphasize is, there’s—on one hand, we’re talking about disability inclusion and how can we make sure that—they’re really—they go hand in hand. Inclusion is how can people with disabilities access these—all of the same programs, all of the same services—really, just kind of everything that nondisabled people can access and—but I think inclusion is not quite the full picture. It’s not really enough. And so what we would say is how can we go beyond inclusion—the inclusion piece—which is just making sure can you participate to sometimes you have to kind of take the first step to get people with disabilities to see these things as belonging to them or see these—sometimes people will self-select out of things because they’ve grown up with these messages that this isn’t for them, or they have to wait until it’s a special disability-focused program or activity for them to participate. And so one message that we tell people with disabilities is to kind of think of it as an infiltration where you’re, like, find these nondisability-focused activities and if you want to be part of it then be part of it. But on the flip side, we’re also thinking a lot about reverse infiltration, which is the folks that are managing different projects and opportunities and activities sometimes you might have to go out of your way a little bit to invite in people from the disability community, meet them where they are, really make sure that they are expected, anticipated. So it’s not really just enough to say, well, we wouldn’t turn a person with a disability away so that makes us inclusive but, really, how can you be more proactive and intentional in your strategy to make sure that disability is represented. So I think that that would be one distinction. And then, furthermore, beyond just disability inclusion—are they participating—then I think another important step to look at is disability leadership, and so that’s kind of where—why I say we get really excited when people with disabilities are entering leadership positions in higher education, whether that’s working in the study abroad office or as faculty leaders and others who are taking part in these decision-making roles and, how can we create kind of a pipeline for people with disabilities to become leaders in these different areas and be that kind of next generation of leadership. So I would keep that at the forefront as well. FASKIANOS: Great. HOLBEN: And, you know— FASKIANOS: Uh-huh. HOLBEN: Oh, go ahead. FASKIANOS: Oh, I was just going to call on Kimberly Pace. She raised her hand. HOLBEN: Oh, perfect. Yes. Looking forward to hear Kimberly. FASKIANOS: From the University of Alaska Anchorage. Q: That’s brilliant. Oh, I’m just so appreciative of this forum, and thank you both so much. As a person with a physical disability it never occurred to me as a college student to ever go—even ask the question about study abroad and I—certainly, you’re blowing my mind that there are resources to allow students to do this. I teach international relations and comparative politics, and I am just beyond giddy that there—(laughter)—are options for students because that’s something that, personally, I, you know, never got to experience and never, certainly, was encouraged to do that. So I’m very excited. I just want to say thank you very much for the information. So thank you. HOLBEN: We’re right there with you, Kimberly, as far as the giddy factor. And, you know, thank you so much for sharing that experience because, actually, that is—I think that inclusive, that welcoming, encouraging messaging is so important and we kind of go into detail about that on one of our tip sheets about inclusive recruitment. But even just something as simple as a message on an opportunity that says people with disabilities encouraged to apply, you never know who that’s going to make all the difference in the world to and one prime example is our organization, Mobility International USA, might not exist if our CEO, who is a wheelchair rider, hadn’t done her Rotary exchange program in Australia, which kind of spawned this idea of what Mobility International USA should be, and what led her to participate in that Rotary exchange program was seeing just a simple ad in the newspaper that said people with disabilities encouraged to apply. And who was responsible for putting in that little line? We’re not sure. But it kind of led to this chain of events that kind of brought us to where we are here. And, you know, there are so many folks in the field in higher education who are—they don’t have all the answers and they don’t have a lot of—they might not have personal experience with disability. But I think if they can help be a champion, an ally, and be kind of someone who says, well, let’s figure this out, or let’s see what’s possible and not shut it down, I think that that’s often what has led to all of these amazing outcomes and impact stories from the folks who have shared their experiences with us on our website and then who knows how many more are out there. So, sounds simple, but it can have an important impact. FASKIANOS: So we have a written question from Mark Scheinbaum, who’s at the Florida International University: What updates or guidance do you have for students with de jure and/or de facto comfort pets that are needed for completion of usual and customary academic tasks? HOLBEN: If you can leave the questions up a little longer. Then I can— FASKIANOS: Oh, sure. Sure. Sorry. HOLBEN: That’s OK. FASKIANOS: I’ll put it back. HOLBEN: Well, I would just, first of all, make sure that you’re familiarizing yourself with the distinction between—you kind of use two different terms here. So there are comfort animals or emotional support animals, and then there are service animals, which are trained to do a specific service. Comfort animals and emotional support animals aren’t necessarily trained to perform a specific service related to a disability-related accommodation whereas a service animal is. So maybe that service is helping to detect the onset of an epileptic seizure, or the service is being able to help the person open doors or pick up items from the floor, or, of course, sight dogs for folks who are blind or visually impaired, for mobility. And so, anyway, that’s going to be a really key distinction for whether or not it’s going to be appropriate to have a service animal or an emotional support animal in a higher education setting, and especially that becomes more complicated when you’re talking about going abroad to another country where you’re also considering factors—not just the laws but also the cultural factors whether dogs are welcome in every restaurant or if it’s an animal that’s very taboo and you don’t keep them as pets, let alone travel around with them. And so all of those questions are going to come into play. We do have some tip sheets on our website that go into more detail around some preparation for bringing animals abroad, what you should know related to quarantine, vaccinations, and things like that. So search for animals on the MIUSA website to access some of those tips. FASKIANOS: Great, and we’ll send out links to that section, Ashley, after this so people can access it easier. HOLBEN: Oh, great. Yeah. FASKIANOS: So another written question from Erin Reed, and I will leave it up so you can see it— HOLBEN: Oh, thanks. FASKIANOS:—who’s the student services and admissions advisor/DSO at California State University San Marcos: What are your suggestions for a university study abroad program that is not made aware of a student’s disability prior to the student’s arrival? HOLBEN: I think my number-one suggestion would be rather than waiting for one student to participate start thinking about it now what are some ways we can build in some inclusive practices into our programming. So one thing that some programs might do is, well, maybe people aren’t disclosing their disability because we’re not giving them the opportunity to do so. So including questions in some of those post-acceptance forums that ask how can we make this program—how can we help set you up for success in this program. Might also ask specifically, including related to disability accommodations so that folks know that—I think it’s really important for prospective students or otherwise to just know that they’re being anticipated, that someone is thinking, yes, like, we’re totally expecting that at some point some students with disabilities will participate in this program. And I think that that can be—really signal to students, OK, this—we’re coming from a place that or we’re going to be interacting with folks who are anticipating me and, even if they don’t know all the answers to my questions they’re not going to shut me down. So I think that some of those types of—whether it’s just amending some of your forms or putting information on your program website, having inclusive images such as if there are images of people with apparent disabilities participating in the program, seeing themselves reflected in those images can be just as important as an inclusive written message. Let me go back to that question. Sorry. It went away again. (Laughs.) FASKIANOS: If you click on the answered question. HOLBEN: I got it. Yeah. FASKIANOS: OK. And then I have two more written questions. Everybody’s sending in their questions at the end here. (Laughs.) HOLBEN: But just also, going back to Erin Reed’s question, if the program—it sounds like, we didn’t know that there was a student with a disability planning to arrive. Now we—we have this—these things that we need to figure out in the meantime. One more thing I’ll just say about how to maybe avoid that situation is working with—oh, this is so important—collaborating with the disability services office and other similar services on the campus to be able to arrange some kind of system. So a lot of institutions—for example, their study abroad offices will share a list of all of the students who are enrolled in study abroad for that upcoming semester and they’ll share it with the disability services office so that they can kind of go through and say, oh, well, we recognize—and this is all just privately on the disability services side to protect the students’ privacy—but they will kind of flag, oh, this is a student that we work with. And so what they might then do is connect with that student directly and say, hey, we learned that you’re going abroad—do you want to talk about some of the questions you might have or is there anything that we can do to support you and can we—are you comfortable with inviting those—the international advisors into this conversation so that we can just kind of put everything out in the open and we can figure out all the best ways to support the—that student. So, I would say, that’s so important that we used to at NCDE pay people to take each other to lunch from the study abroad office and the disability services office because too often we heard, oh, yeah, they’re just right across the—you know, their office is literally right over there. I can see them from our office. But we’ve never talked to them or—and we don’t really know what they do. So I think just to have it breaking some of that ice early on and not waiting for the time when there’s a student with a disability there but just kind of building that into your process, and that can also be helpful for collecting data as well. The Institute for International Education has an annual Open Door survey that provides data and statistics around who is participating in an international exchange and they’ve started including a question—some questions related to disability so that, hopefully, over time we can kind of see is disability—are people with disabilities being represented in international exchange in greater numbers, what types of disabilities do they have, and so on. So working with the disability support office is one great way to also collect that type of information too, which is going to really help the field and, hopefully, help more people with disabilities to be able to participate in international exchange. FASKIANOS: So we have a question from Andrew Moran from London Metropolitan University: In the U.K. inclusion is not just about access or being in a classroom. It is also about inclusive assessment methods. I wonder if you have any resources—if you know of any resources that suggest assessment methods that would allow neurodiverse or physically disabled students to fully engage and not be excluded. They’ve done away with exams because you can’t rely on an elevator to work to get to an exam room, let alone the barriers in the exam might pose for neurodiverse students. And he’s leading a working group on allowing students to choose, create their own assessment method to enable greater diversity and meet students’ needs but always looking for new ideas. HOLBEN: Oh, that’s really interesting. Thanks so much for sharing that, Andrew, and for sharing the example at your own institution as well. And I would love to hear other folks respond to this, too. As far as—one, again, I would really encourage you to check out Think College as a prospective resource for—especially just because you mention neurodiverse students. So Think College operates at different campuses right now—for now, I think, only in the U.S. Perhaps their network is growing beyond that as well. But it’s kind of this network of professionals who work with—to try to get students not only with intellectual disabilities but also those who are neurodiverse, including those who are on the autism spectrum. And so they are really a fantastic source of expertise for everything from inclusive education or specialized support and accommodations and pedagogy. So I think that they would be probably the ones to connect with about this question in particular. But if other folks have other ideas in response to Andrew, I’m sure we’d all appreciate it. And maybe while we’re thinking of that, we’ll check out this next one. FASKIANOS: Right. McKennah Andrews with the Mansfield Center: We have a blind participant on an upcoming international program taking place here in the U.S., and MIUSA’s resources have been so valuable. Can we touch on the topic of personal assistants? What advice or testimonies might you have regarding engaging with personal assistants during a program? HOLBEN: Yes, absolutely. So personal assistants can look like a couple—many different things, actually. You might even—since you mentioned having a blind participant, this might not be what you meant but some—for some folks who are blind they may have had some sighted guides during their exchange programs abroad. So that’s another example where a student who—or a person who is used to one type of access accommodation or assistive devices or technology in their home environment might have to look into some different ones for their host environment. So we’ve known some people who are really—have great cane skills for orientation and mobility and strong independent mobility skills in their home environment but have felt more comfortable having the program help arrange a sighted guide for them when they’re going to, perhaps, countries where—or environments that are a little more chaotic or where, for whatever reason, their usual skills might not work out. Or, again, if that person uses a service dog in—or service animal in their home environment and that wouldn’t really be feasible in the home environment then having that kind of human guide or a personal assistant might be one method that they look into. Personal assistants might also provide everyday living services—you know, feeding or using the bathroom or just getting ready throughout the day, assisting with lifting and transferring, and that’s going to—might—again, as somebody who—we’ve seen some instances where people in the U.S. who don’t use personal assistant services might opt for that when they’re going to a place where, you know, they might need to be lifted more often because the infrastructure is not as—going to be as smooth or not as accessible. And so we’ve seen different situations where sometimes they are—the personal assistant in question is someone they’ve worked with a long time in the U.S. Sometimes it might be a peer who attends their school. Sometimes it’s a parent who travels. I’ve definitely seen all kind of different types of—oh, and also a local person that’s hired in the country to provide personal assistant care. So it’s really interesting just to kind of be aware of all of the different ways that that might look and check out—again, we have a specific tip sheet about that—actually, a series related to personal assistant services. So, yes, we can talk about personal assistant services and we have kind of a suite of resources related to that so there’s a lot that can be said. So thanks for bringing that up. FASKIANOS: Terrific. We are almost out of time, and I did see that there was a raised hand from Justice Chuckwu— HOLBEN: Fantastic. Let’s hear from Justice. FASKIANOS: —disability rights, Oregon. He lowered his hand but—oh, there we go. And if you can ask it quickly and unmute yourself that would be great. HOLBEN: I think we’ve met before, Justice. Hello. HOLBEN: Oh, hi. There’s Justice. Q: Hello. HOLBEN: Hello. Q: Yeah, I think we met a couple times. Yeah. So my name is Justice and, yeah, I’m so much appreciative of this program. And I always have a simple question and the question is how do we—how do we unify orientation for international students with disabilities, given the fact that they come from different backgrounds and most times there are just maybe one or two or three in one university or one college and may not be able to really understand the environment early enough. Maybe by the time they would get to understand the environment they might be getting to the mid-semester. So my question is, is there a way to kind of unify the orientation, especially since we now have online—things could be done online to unify the orientation to make sure that students—international students with disabilities are not left behind. HOLBEN: Mmm hmm. Yes. Thank you, Justice. And, actually, it was your bringing that to light that kind of got—we started incorporating that question into some of our resources and, in fact, you helped contribute to one of our webinars on this very topic of support for international students with disabilities coming to different campuses in which you kind of described that feeling of how do I connect with other people with disabilities, especially other international students with disabilities, who might be able to share in some of these experiences so I don’t feel so alone in this. And I really—that really sparked a lot of ideas but one of which is, might there be some kind of opportunity for a student group of international students with disabilities but bringing together students from different campuses to be able to share their experiences. And so that’s something that we at the NCDE are exploring more. But as for existing resources, in addition to the webinar that Justice contributed to we also added some others related to just sharing some best practices from our—MIUSA leads an orientation for high school exchange students with disabilities who are arriving to the U.S. for a State Department-funded scholarship program and we—as part of this orientation we incorporate information about your rights as a person with disabilities while you’re in the U.S. and how to advocate for yourself if there’s something that you need but aren’t getting, how to fully participate in all of the opportunities while you’re there. So I think that those are the—some of the same messages that could be really beneficial to folks entering U.S. higher education from different parts of the world and just learning about U.S. disability culture and those steps for taking advantage of all of the resources available to you. So, yeah, you’re absolutely right, Justice. There’s more work to be done, and I think folks like you who are voicing kind of those needs—those firsthand gaps that you’ve identified is kind of one of the first steps in helping to build out some of these resources. FASKIANOS: Fantastic. Well, we are out of time. In fact, we’re a little over. HOLBEN: Oh. (Laughs.) FASKIANOS: So, Ashley Holben, thank you so much for doing this. We really appreciate it, and to all of you for your questions and comments. Again, we will be sending out a link to this webinar transcript as well as to the resources that Ashley mentioned. So stay tuned for that. Our next Higher Education Webinar will be on Wednesday, February 22, at 2:00 p.m. Eastern Time with Jeremi Suri, who will lead a conversation on teaching the history of American democracy. And just please do follow us at @CFR_Academic and visit CFR.org, ForeignAffairs.com, and ThinkGlobalHealth.org for research and analysis on global issues. Ashley, again, thank you very much for doing this. We appreciate it. HOLBEN: Thank you. Thank you for—to everyone who attended for your time and thanks to CFR for getting this on the agenda. I really appreciate it also. FASKIANOS: Great. We look forward to everybody continuing to participate in this Higher Education Webinar series. Have a good rest of your day. (END)
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    Academic Webinar: Religious Literacy in International Affairs
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    Susan Hayward, associate director of the Religious Literacy and the Professions Initiative at Harvard Divinity School, leads the conversation on religious literacy in international affairs.   FASKIANOS: Welcome to the final session of the Fall 2022 CFR Academic Webinar Series. I’m Irina Faskianos, vice president of the National Program and Outreach here at CFR. Today’s discussion is on the record, and the video and transcript will be available on our website, CFR.org/Academic if you would like to share it with your classmates or colleagues. As always, CFR takes no institutional positions on matters of policy. We’re delighted to have Susan Hayward with us to discuss religious literacy in international affairs. Reverend Hayward is the associate director for the Religious Literacy and Professions Initiative at Harvard Divinity School. From 2007 to 2021, she worked for the U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP), with focus on Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Columbia, and Iraq. And most recently serving as senior advisor for Religion and Inclusive Societies, and as a fellow in Religion and Public Life. During her tenure at USIP, Reverend Hayward also coordinated an initiative exploring the intersection of women, religion, conflict, and peacebuilding, partnership with the Berkley Center at Georgetown University and the World Faith Development Dialogue. And she coedited a book on the topic entitled Women, Religion and Peacebuilding: Illuminating the Unseen. Reverend Hayward has also taught at Georgetown and George Washington Universities and serves as a regular guest lecturer and trainer at the Foreign Service Institute. And she’s also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. So, Susan, thank you very much for being with us today. Can you begin by explaining why religious literacy is so important for understanding international affairs? HAYWARD: Yeah, absolutely. Thank you, Irina. And thanks to the Council on Foreign Relations for inviting me to be a part of this webinar. And I really appreciate you and the invitation, and I appreciate all of you who have joined us today, taking time out of what I know is a busy time of year, as we hurdle towards final exams and cramming everything into these last weeks of the semester. So it’s great to be with all of you. I am going to be—in answering that broad question that Irina offered, I’m going to be drawing on my work. As Irina said, I worked at the—I work now at Harvard Divinity School’s Religion and Public Life Program. And what we seek to do here is to do here is to advance the public understanding of religion in service of a just world at peace. And we do that, in part, by working with professionals in governments and foreign policy, and in the humanitarian sector, as well as working with our students who are seeking to go into vocations in those professional spheres. And then my fourteen years with the Religion and Inclusive Societies Program at the U.S. Institute of Peace. So I’ll say a little bit more about both of those as we go along, and those experiences, but I’m also happy to answer any questions about either of those programs when we turn to the Q&A. And I should say that I’m going to be focusing as well—given that a lot of you all who are joining us today are educators yourselves or are students—I’m going to be focusing in particular on how we teach religious literacy within international affairs. So I wanted to begin with the definition of religious literacy, because this is a term that is increasingly employed as part of a rallying cry that’s based on a particular diagnosis. And the diagnosis is that there has been insufficient deep consideration of the multiple and complex dimensions of religion and culture that impact international affairs at all levels across the world. And that the result of that lack of a complex understanding of religion in this arena has been the—the hamstringing of the ability of the international system to operate in ways that are effective in bringing justice, peace, democracy, human rights, and development. So I’m going to circle back to that diagnosis in a bit. But first I want to jump to the prescription that’s offered, which is to enhance religious literacy using various resources, trainings, courses, and ways that are relevant for foreign policymakers and those working across the international system, as well as those students who are in the schools of international affairs, or other schools and planning to go into this space, into this profession. So the definition that we use here at Harvard Divinity School—and this is one that has been adopted by the American Academy of Religion, which is the scholarly guild for religious studies—defines it in this way: Religious literacy is the—entails the ability to discern and analyze the fundamental intersections of religion and social, political, and cultural life through multiple lenses. So specifically, one who is religious literate will possess a basic understanding of different religious traditions, including sort of fundamental beliefs and practices and contemporary manifestation of different religious traditions, as well as how they arose out of and continue to be shaped by particular social, historical, and cultural contexts. And the ability to discern and explore the religious dimensions of political, social, and cultural expressions across time and space. So this gets broken down in two different ways—three, according to me. But that definition focuses on two in particular. One is often referred to as the confessional approach or the substantive approach. So that’s looking at understanding different religious traditions and their manifestations in different places. That’s understanding something fundamental about the difference between Theravada Buddhism and Vajrayana Buddhism, for example. Or how Islam is practiced, and dominantly practiced in Nigeria, versus in North America, for example. The second approach is the religious studies approach. Which is sometimes also called the functional approach. So that’s the ability to be able to analyze the ways in which religions in complex ways are really intersecting with social, and political, and economic life, even if not explicitly so. But in implicit, embedded ways shaping different kinds of economic systems, social systems, and political systems, and being able to analyze and see that, and so ask particular questions and consider different kinds of policy solutions—diagnoses and solutions that can take that into account. And then finally, I add the religious engagement approach. That particularly comes out of my work when I was at USIP and working with foreign policymakers in the State Department and elsewhere. To some extent, overseas as well, those in the diplomatic sector. Which I understand is determining whether, when, and how to engage with specifically defined religious institutions, actors, and interests, including on issues related, for example, with religious freedom, in ways that are inclusive, just, strategic, and, importantly for the U.S. context, legal. So abiding by the Establishment Clause of the Constitution. Now, all three types of religious literacy defined here depend on three principles or ideas. So the first is that they understand religions as lived, as constituted by humans who are constantly interpreting and reinterpreting their religious traditions. This means that as a result they are internally diverse, sometimes very internally contradictory. They’ll have different religious interpretations with respect to particular human rights issues, particular social issues, issues related to gender, and so on and so forth. That they change over time. That that sort of complex interpretive process that is going on within religious traditions also leads to kind of larger normative changes within religious traditions over history in different temporal contexts. And that they’re culturally embedded. So as the question I was asking earlier, how is Islam, as it’s understood and practiced in Nigeria, different from how it’s understood and practiced in North America, for example. There are ways in which the particular religious interpretations and practices of a tradition are always going to be entangled with specific cultural contexts in ways that are near impossible to disentangle at times. And that means that they just manifest differently in different places. And this—these ideas of religion as lived pushes against an understanding of religions as being static or being monolithic. So that then leads us to ensure that there’s never—that it’s always going to be a problem to make sweeping claims about entire religious traditions because you’ll always find somebody or some community within those religious traditions that don’t believe or practice according to the claim that you just made about it. And that applies to situations of violent conflict and with respect to human rights, on global issues like climate and migration. This idea, the internal diversity in particular, is what is at play when you hear the phrase “Ambivalence of the Sacred” that was coined by Scott Appleby in his—in this very influential book by the same name. I’ll throw in here a quote from Scott Appleby from that book, this idea that religions are always going to show up in ambivalent or contradictory ways across different places, but also sometimes in the very same contexts. So I think we can see that, for example, in the U.S. right now, and that there’s no one, let’s say, religious position with respect to reproductive rights, for example. There’s a great deal of internal plurality and ambivalence that exists across religious traditions and interpretations within the Christian tradition and beyond about that specific issue. Moreover then, what religion is, what is considered religious, what is recognized as religious and what isn’t, and how it manifests in different contexts depends on just a complex array of intersecting factors. I’m going to come back to—that’s kind of meaty phrase just to throw out there, so I’m going to come back to that in a minute. So the second principle or idea of religious literacy that I want to highlight here is the idea of right-sizing religion. This is a phrase that Peter Mandaville used quite a bit when he was in the State Department’s Religion and Global Affairs Office under the Obama administration and has written about. So I’ll turn you to that article of his to understand more about it. But the central idea is that we don’t want to over nor underemphasize religion’s role in any given context. So just by way of a quick example, in looking at the Rohingya crisis or the ethnic cleansing of Rakhine State in Myanmar, one could not say it was all about religion, that it was about Buddhist nationalists who are anti-Muslim wanting to destroy a particular religious community. Nor could you say it had nothing to do with religion, because there were these religious dimensions that were at play in driving the violence towards the Rohingya and the larger communities’ acceptance of that violence against the Rohingya community. But if you were to overemphasize the religious roles, the religious dimensions of that crisis, then your policy solutions—you might look at religious freedom tools and resources to be able to address the situation. And that would address the situation in part, but obviously there were other economic and political factors that were at play in leading to the Rohingya crisis. And including certain economic interests with oil pipelines that were being constructed across lands that the Rohingya were living on in Rakhine state, or the political conflict that was taking place between the military and the National League of Democracy, and so on. So addressing the crisis holistically and sustainably requires that we right-size the role that religion is playing in that particular crisis. And that goes across the board, in looking at conflicts and looking at the role of religion in climate, and addressing climate collapse, and so on and so forth. We need to always neither under nor overestimate the role that religion is playing in driving some of these issues and as a solution in addressing some of these issues. OK. So with that definition and principles of religious literacy in mind, I want to go back to the diagnosis that I gave at the—that I mentioned at the top, for which religious literacy is offered as a solution. The diagnosis, if you remember, was that there’s been insufficient consideration given to the multiple and complex dimensions of religion and culture that impact international affairs. So I’m going to demonstrate what it means to apply the religious studies approach to religious literacy, or the functional approach to religious literacy, to help us understand why that might be. And remember, the religious studies approach is seeking to discern and explore the religious dimensions of political, social, and cultural expressions and understandings across time and place. So this approach, in trying to answer that question and consider that diagnosis, it would invite us to look historically at the development of the modern international legal and political systems in a particular time and place in Western Europe, during the European Enlightenment. As many of you may well know, this came about in the aftermath of the so-called confessional or religious wars. Those were largely understood to have pitted Protestants against Catholics, though it’s more complicated in reality. But broadly, that’s the story. And the modern state, on which the international system was built, sought to create a separation between religious and state authority. For the first time in European history, this separation between religious and state authority that became more rigid and enforced over time, in the belief that this was necessary in order to ensure peace and prosperity moving forward, to bring an end to these wars, and to ensure that the state would be better able to deal with the reality of increasing religious pluralism within Europe. So this was essentially the idea of secular political structures that was born in that time and place. And these secular political structures were considered to be areligious or neutral towards religion over time, again. In the process of legitimating this sort of revolutionary new model of the secular modern state, and in the process of creating this demarcated distinction that had not previously existed—at least, not a neat distinction of the secular or the political authority and the religious—the religious authority—there was an assertion as part of that ideologically legitimate and support that. There was an assertion of the secular as rational, ordered, and associated with all of the good stuff of modernity. Meanwhile, the religious was defined in counter-distinction as a threat to the secular. It was irrational, backwards, a threat to the emerging order. A not-subtle presumption in all of this is that the new modern state and the international system would serve as a bulwark against archaic, dangerous, religious, and other traditionally cultural, in particular, worldviews and practices in—it would be a bulwark against that, and a support for this neutral and considered universal international law and system—secular system. Now, I realize I’m making some, like, huge, broad historical sweeps here, given the short amount of time I have. But within that story I just told, there is a lot more complexity that one can dig into. But part of what I seek to do in offering religious literacy in international relations theory and practice to students, and to practitioners in this realm, is to help those operating in the system think through how that historically and contextually derived conception of religion and the co-constitutive conception of secularism continues to operate within and shape how we interpret and respond to global events within the system. And this occurs—I see this happening in two dominant ways. One is, first, in thinking about religion as a distinct sphere of life that can be disentangled entirely from the political, when in reality religion is deeply entangled with the political, and vice versa. And scholars like Talal Asad and Elizabeth Shakman Hurd have done really great work to show how even our understanding of the secular and secular norms and so on is shaped by Protestant Christian commitments and understandings. And saying within that, our understanding of what religion is—like, a focus on belief, for example, which has been codified in a lot of religious freedom law, as part of the international system—again, tends to emphasize Protestant Christian understandings of what religion is and how it functions. So that’s the first reason for doing that. And then second, in understanding religion to be a threat to modernity, and sometimes seeing and responding to it as such rather than taking into account its complexity, its ambivalence, the ways in which it has been a powerful force for good, and bad, and everything in between, and in ways that sometimes let the secular off the hook for ways that it has driven forms of violence, colonialism, gender injustice, global inequalities, the climate crisis, and so on. So those are the consequences of when we don’t have that religious literacy, of those potential pitfalls. And, on that second point, of the ways in which religion continues to be defined in ways that can overemphasize its negative aspect at time within the international system, I commend the work of William Cavanaugh in particular and his book, The Myth of Religious Violence to dig into that a little bit more. So what we’re seeking to do, in bringing that kind of religious literacy to even thinking about the international system and its norms and how it operates, is to raise the consciousness of what Donna Haraway calls the situatedness of the international system, the embedded agendas and assumptions that inevitably operate within it. And it invites students to be skeptical of any claims to the systems neutrality about religion, how it’s defined, and how it’s responded to. So I recognize that that approach is very deconstructionist work. It’s informed by, post-colonial critical theory, which reflects where religious studies has been for the last couple decades. But importantly, it doesn’t, nor shouldn’t ideally, lead students to what is sometimes referred to as analysis paralysis, when there’s sort of groundedness within hypercritical approaches, only looking at the complexity to a degree that it’s hard to understand how to move forward then to respond constructively to these concerns. Rather, the purpose is to ensure that they’re more conscious of these underlying embedded norms or assumptions so that they can better operate within the system in just ways, not reproducing forms of Eurocentrism, Christo-centrism, or forms of cultural harm. So the hope is that it helps students to be able to better critique the ways in in which religion and secularism is being—are being discussed, analyzed, or engaged within international affairs, and then be able to enter into those kinds of analysis, policymaking, program development, and so on, in ways that can help disrupt problematic assumptions and ensure that the work of religious literacy or religious engagement is just. So I’m just going to offer one example of how this kind of critical thinking and critical—the way of thinking complexly about religion in this space can be fruitful. And it speaks back to one of the things Irina noted about my biography, the work I had done looking at women and religion and peacebuilding. So while I was at USIP, in that program, we spent several years looking specifically and critically at forms of theory and practice, and this subfield that had emerged of religious peacebuilding. And we were looking at it through the lens of gender justice, asking how religion was being defined in the theory or engaged in the peacebuilding practice and policy in ways that unintentionally reinforced gender injustice. And what we found is that there were assumptions operating about certain authorities—often those at the top of institutions, which tended to be older, well-educated men—representing entire traditions. Assumptions made about their social and political power as well. When in reality, we knew that those of different genders, and ages, and socioeconomic locations were doing their own work of peacebuilding within these religious landscapes, and had different experiences of violence, and so different prescriptions for how to build peace. So we began to ask questions, like whose peace is being built in this field of religious peacebuilding that was emerging? And the work that USIP had been doing in this space of religious peacebuilding? Whose stories were being left out in the dominant analyses or narratives in the media about religious dimensions of certain conflicts, and what are the consequences of that? So these kinds of questions are grounded in the recognition of, again, the internal diversity, the change over time of religious traditions. And they help ensure that analysis and policy actions aren’t unintentionally reproducing forms of harm or structural violence. I’m almost done. So please do bring your questions so that we can engage in a discussion with each other. But I wanted to end by offering a couple examples of resources that I think might be helpful to both enhancing your own religious literacy but also as potential pedagogical tools in this work. So first is Religious Peacebuilding Action Guides that were produced by the U.S. Institute of Peace, in partnership with Salam Institute for Peace and Justice, and the Network for Religious and Traditional Peacemakers. There’s four guides. They’re all available for free online. Once I close down my PowerPoint, I’m going to throw the links for all of these things I’m mentioning into the chat box so you can all see it. But one of the things—I’m just going to dive in a little bit to the analysis guide, because one of the things that I think is useful in helping, again, to help us think a little bit more complexly about religion, is that it takes you through this process of thinking about the different dimensions of religion as defined here—ideas, community, institutions, symbols and practices, and spirituality. So it’s already moving beyond just an idea of religious institutions, for example. And it takes you through doing a conflict assessment, and asking the questions related to religion with respect to the drivers of the conflict and the geographic location and peacebuilding initiatives, to help you craft a peacebuilding—a religious peacebuilding initiative. I have used this framework as a means to help students think through the ambivalence of religion as it manifests in different places. So I have an example there of a question that I have sometimes used that has been fruitful in thinking about how these five different dimensions of religion have manifested in American history in ways that either have advanced forms of racialized violence and injustice or that have served as drivers of peace and justice. And there’s lots of examples across all of those dimensions of the ways in which religion has shown up in ambivalent ways in that respect. There’s also—USIP’s team has produced a lot of amazing things. So I’ll put some links to some of their other resources in there too, which includes they’re doing religious landscape mappings of conflict-affected states. They have an online course on religious engagement in peacebuilding that’s free to take. Another resource is from here, at Harvard Divinity School in the Religion in Public Life Program. And we provide a series of case studies that is for educators. It’s primarily created educators in secondary schools and in community colleges, but I think could easily be adapted and used in other kinds of four-year universities or other kinds of professional settings, where you’re doing trainings or workshops, or even just holding discussions on religious literacy. So there’s a series of kind of short, concise, but dense, case studies that are looking at different religions as they intersect with a host of issues, including peace, climate, human rights, gender issues. And it says something about that case study here—the example that I have here is the conflict in Myanmar, pre-coup, the conflicts that were occurring between religious communities, and particularly between Buddhist communities and Muslim communities. And then there’s a set of discussion questions there that really help to unearth some of those lessons about internal diversity and about the ways in which religious intersects with state policies and other kinds of power interests and agendas—political power interests and agendas. And then also, at our program, Religion and Public Life, we have a number of courses that are available online, one that’s more on the substantive religious literacy side, looking at different religious traditions through their scriptures. Another course, it’s on religion, conflict and peace, all of which are free and I’m going to throw them into the chat box in a moment. And we also have ongoing workshops for educators on religious literacy, a whole network with that. So you’re welcome to join that network if you’d like. And then finally, we have a one-year master’s of religion and public life program for people in professions—quote/unquote, “secular” professions—who want to come and think about—they’re encountering religion in various ways in their work in public health, or in their work in journalism. And so they want to come here for a year and to think deeply about that, and bring something back into their profession. And then the final thing, and then I’m going to be done, and this one is short, is the Transatlantic Policy for Religion and Diplomacy, which brings together point people from—who work on religion across different foreign ministries in North America and Europe. And their website, religionanddiplomacy.org, has a lot of really great resources that—reports on various thematic issues, but also looking at religion in situ in a number of different geographic locations. They have these strategic notes, that’s what I have the image of here, that talk about, at a particular time, what are some of the big stories related to religion and international affairs overseas. And they list a number of other religious literacy resources on their website as well. So I commend all of that to. And with that, let me stop share, throw some links into the chat box, and hear responses and questions from folks. FASKIANOS: Wonderful. Thank you for that. That was terrific. And we are going to send out—as a follow-up, we’ll send out a link to this webinar, maybe a link to your presentation, as well as the resources that you drop into the chat. So if you don’t get it here, you will have another bite at the apple, so to speak. (Gives queuing instructions.) So I’m going to go first to the written question from Meredith Coon, who’s an undergraduate student at Lewis University: What would be a solution for India to have many different religions live in peace with each other, especially since most religions share a lot of the same core values of how people should live? And how can society prevent the weaponization of religion, while still allowing broad religious freedom? HAYWARD: All right. Thank you for the question, Meredith. And one thing just to note, by way of housekeeping, I’m not sure I can actually share the links with all of the participants. So we’ll make sure that you get all of those links in that follow-up note, as Irina said. So, Meredith, I think a couple things. One, I just want to note that one of the assumptions within your question itself is that folks of different religious persuasions are constantly at conflict with one another. And of course, there is a reality of there is increasing religious tensions around the world, communal tensions of many different sorts, ethnic, and religious, and racial, and so on, across the world. And the threat to democracy and increasing authoritarianism has sometimes exacerbated those kinds of tensions. But there’s also a lot of examples presently and historically of religiously incredibly diverse communities living in ways that are harmonious, that are just, and so on. So I think it is important—there’s a lot of work that supports forms of interfaith dialogue and intra-faith dialogue. And I think that that work is—will always be important, to be able to recognize shared values and shared commitments, and in order to acknowledge and develop respect and appreciation for differences as well on different topics—again, both within religious traditions and across them. But I think that dialogue alone, frankly, is not enough. Because so often these tensions and these conflicts are rooted in structural violence and discrimination and concerns, economic issues, and political issues, and so on. And so I think part of that work, it’s not just about building relationships kind of on a horizontal level, but also about ensuring that state policies and practice, economic policies and practices, and so on, are not operating in ways that disadvantage some groups over others, on a religious side, on a gender side, on a racial side, and so on. So it’s about ensuring as well inclusive societies and a sense as well of inclusive political systems and inclusive economic systems. And doing that work in kind of integrated ways is going to be critical for ensuring that we’re able to address some of these rising forms of violations of religious freedom. Thanks again for the question. FASKIANOS: Thank you. Next question from Clemente Abrokwaa. Clemente, do you want to ask your question? Associate teaching professor of African studies at Pennsylvania State University? I’m going to give you a moment, so we can hear some voices. Q: OK. Thank you very much. Yeah, my question is I’m wondering how peacebuilding, in terms of religious literacy, how would you look at—or, how does it look at those that are termed fundamentalists? How their actions and beliefs, especially their beliefs, those of us—there are those outside who perceive them as being destructive. So then to that person, is their beliefs are good. So they fight for, just like anyone will fight for, what, a freedom fighter or something, or a religious fighter in this case. So I’m just wondering how does religious literacy perceive that in terms of peacebuilding? HAYWARD: Right. Thank you for the question, Professor Abrokwaa. I really appreciate it. So a couple things. One, first of all, with respect to—just going back, again, to the ambivalence of the sacred—recognizing that that exists. That there are particular religious ideas, commitments, groups, practices that are used in order to fuel and legitimate forms of violence. And I use violence in a capacious understanding of it, that includes both direct forms of violence but also structural and cultural forms of violence, to use the framework of Johan Galtung. And so that needs to be addressed as part of the work to build peace, is recognizing religious and nonreligious practices and ideas that are driving those forms of violence. But when it comes to religious literacy to understand that, a couple ways in which the principles apply. One is, first, not assuming that their—that that is the only or exclusive religious interpretation. And I think sometimes well-meaning folks end up reifying this idea that that is the exclusive religious interpretation or understanding when they’re—when they’re offering sometimes purely nonreligious responses to it. And what I mean by this, for example, let’s look at Iran right now. I read some analyses where it’s saying that, the Iranian authorities and the Ayatollahs who comprise the Supreme Council and so on, that they—that they define what Islamic law is. And there’s not a qualification of that. And in the meantime, the protesters are sort of defined as, like, secular, or they’re not—the idea that they could be driven by certain—their own Islamic interpretations that are just as authoritative to them, and motivating them, and shaping them is critical. So being able to recognize the internal plurality and not unintentionally reify that particular interpretation of a religious tradition as exclusive or authoritative. Rather, it’s one interpretation of a religious tradition with particular consequences that are harmful for peace. And there are multiple other interpretations of that religious tradition that are operating within that context. And then a second way that the religious literacy would apply would also look at the ways in which sometimes the diagnoses of extremist groups that are operating within a religious frame doesn’t right-size the role of religion in that. It sometimes overemphasizes the religious commitments, and drives, and so on. And so, again, we need to right-size. There are religious motivations. And we need to take those seriously. And we need to develop solutions for addressing that. And there are economic interests. And there are political interests. So there’s a whole host of factors that are motivating and inspiring and legitimating those groups. And being able to take into account that more holistic picture and ensure that your responses to it are going to be holistic. And then one final thing I want to say that’s not with respect to religious literacy as much—or, maybe it is—but it’s more just about my experience of work at USIP, is that—and it kind of goes back to the question that Meredith asked before you about religious harmony between multireligious relations and harmony, is that I sometimes finds that engaging with groups that are defining themselves and motivating themselves with a primary grounding in religion, that they’re not going to participate generally in interfaith initiatives, and so on, right? And so that’s where some of that intra-faith work can be particularly important. I saw this, for example, in Myanmar, when their—when previously the movement that was known as Ma Ba Tha, which was defined by some as a Buddhist nationalist anti-Muslim kind of Buddhist supremacist group. The folks who were most successful in being able to engage in a values-grounded conversation with members of the organization were other Buddhist monks, who were able to speak within the language of meaning and to draw attention to, like, different understandings of religious teachings or religious principles with respect to responding to minority groups, and so on. So I think that’s in particular, with addressing those groups, that’s where that intra-religious work or intra-communal work can be really critical, in addition to some of that cross-communal work. FASKIANOS: Thank you. So we’ve seen, obviously, the war in Ukraine and how Christian Orthodoxy is being—or, Greek Orthodoxy in Ukraine, and the division. Can you talk a little bit about that and how it’s playing out with Russian identity? HAYWARD: Yeah, absolutely. There’s been some really good analysis and work out there of the religious dimensions of the Russia-Ukraine conflict. So again, the sort of dominant story that you see, which reflects a reality, is that there are ways in which political and religious actors and interests are aligning on the Russian side in order to advance particular narratives and that legitimate the invasion of Ukraine that—that are about sort of fighting back against an understanding of the West as being counter to traditional and religious values. Those are some of the religious understandings. And then that concern gets linked then to the establishment of an independent or autocephalous Orthodox Church within the Ukraine context. And you see—in particular, what’s pointed to often is the relationship between Patriarch Kirill in the Russian Orthodox Church, and Putin, and the ways in which they’ve sort of reinforced each other’s narrative and offered support to it. And there’s really great analysis out there and stories that have been done about that. And that needs to be taken into account in responding to the situation and, I would say, that some of the religious literacy principles would then ask us to think about other ways in which religion is showing up within that, that go beyond the institution too. So a lot of the news stories that I’ve seen, for example, have focused exclusively on—sometimes—exclusively on the clerics within the Orthodox Church and their positions, either in support of or in opposition to the war. But in reality, on the ground there’s a lot more complexity that’s taken place, and a lot more of the ways in which different individuals and communities on both the Russia and the Ukraine side are responding to the violence, to the displacements, and so on. It paints a more complex and, I think, fascinating story, frankly. And sort of illuminates ways forward in support of peacebuilding. For example, there’s ways in which different kinds of ritual practices within Orthodoxy have served as a source of support and constancy to folks who are living in this situation of insecurity and displacement, in ways that have been helpful. There are, of course, other religious traditions that exist within both Ukraine and Russia that are operating and responding in different ways. Like, the Jewish community in Ukraine and the Catholic—the Greek Catholic Church in Ukraine. So looking at those complexities both within Orthodoxy, but there’s many different ways that Orthodox Christians are responding in both countries. There’s not one story of Orthodox Christianity and the invasion of Ukraine. But also looking at some of the religious diversity within it. And that helps to ensure, like I said, one, that we’re developing solutions that are also recognizing the ways in which religion at a very ground level is serving as a source of support, humanitarian relief, social, psychological support to people on the ground, as well as the ways in which it’s sort of manifesting ambivalently and complexly in ways that are driving some of the violence as well. And it also helps to push back against any sort of a narrative that this is about a Russian religion—on the Russian side—this is about a religious war against a secular, non-religious West or Ukraine, right? That that goes back to what I was talking about with the historical sort of contingencies that are baked into this system a little bit. And in defining it in that way, Russia’s religious and its motivations are religious, Ukraine’s not religious, that’s both not true—(laughs)—because there’s many religious folks within the Ukraine and within the West generally, but also feeds—it feeds the very narrative that Putin and Kirill are giving of a secular West that is anti-religion, that is in opposition to Russian traditional values. FASKIANOS: It seems like there needs to be some training of journalists too to have religious literacy, in the same way that we’re talking about media literacy. HAYWARD: Yeah. FASKIANOS: Probably should be introduced as well. (Laughs.) HAYWARD: Yeah, Irina, it’s funny, we did—one of my students actually did a kind of mapping and analysis of stories about the Russia-Ukraine conflict and the religious dimensions of it. And she noted that there was—for example, it was—almost always it was male clerics who were being quoted. So there was very little that was coming from other gendered perspectives and experiences on the ground, lay folks and so on. And again, for that—for that very reason it’s sort of—because we know so many policymakers and international analysis are depending on these kinds of media stories, I worry that it creates a blinder to potential opportunities for different kinds of ways of addressing needs and partners for addressing needs on the ground. FASKIANOS: Great. Thank you. I’m going to go next to Liam Wall, an undergraduate student at Loyola Marymount University: With so much diversity within religions itself, how can we avoid the analysis paralysis you mentioned and take in as many unique perspectives as possible, without letting that stand in the way of progress? How does one know that they have enough religious literacy and can now become an effective practitioner? HAYWARD: Well, OK, the bad news is that you will never have enough religious literacy. (Laughs.) This is a process, not an end. There are scholars here at Harvard who have been studying one particular sect of a particular religious tradition for their entire adult lives, and they would still say that they are students of those traditions, because they’re so complex. Because so many of these traditions are composed of a billion people or just—just 500 million people. But that means that there’s going to be an incredible diversity to explore. And so that’s the bad news. But the good news is, one, like, first take the burden off of your shoulders of having to be an expert on any one particular religious tradition, in order to be able to help to develop and enhance your own religious literacy, and those of others, and to operate in ways that reflect the principles of religious literacy, is the good news. As well as there are many different kinds of resources that you can turn to in order to understand, for example if you’re going to be working in a particular geographic location, scholarship, people you can speak to in order to begin to understand at least some of the specific manifestations and practices, and some of the disputes and diversity that exists within that particular country or geographic location across religious traditions. But, secondly, I would say, it’s almost more important than—like, the substance is important. But what’s just as important, if not more important, is understanding what kinds of questions to be asking, and to be curious about these religious questions and their intersection with the political and social. So we sometimes say that religious literacy is about developing habits of mind in how we think about these religious questions, and what kinds of questions we ask about religion. So it’s about developing that kind of a reflex to be able to kind of see what’s underneath some of the analysis that you’re seeing that might be relevant to religion or that might be advancing particularly problematic understandings of religion, or reinforcing binaries like the secular and the religious and so on. And that’s just as—just as important. So the extent to which you’re continuing to, like, hone those—that way of thinking, and those habits of mind, that will set you up well for then going into this space and being able to ask those particular questions with respect to whatever issues you’re focusing on, or whatever geographic location you’re looking at. FASKIANOS: Great. I’m going to go next to Mohamed Bilal, a postgraduate student at the Postgraduate Institute of Management in Sri Lanka. HAYWARD: Yay! FASKIANOS: Yes. How does sectarianism influence our literacy? In turn, if we are influenced by sectarianism, then would we be illiterate of the religion but literate of the sect? Thus, wouldn’t such a religious literacy perpetuate sectarianism? HAYWARD: Thank you for the question, Mohamed. It’s—I miss Sri Lanka. I have not been there in too long, and I look forward to going back at some point. So I would say sectarianism, in the sense of—so, there’s both religious sects, right? There’s the existence of different kinds of religious traditions, interpretive bodies, jurisprudential bodies in the case of Islam. And then broader, different schools or denominations. The term that’s used depends on the different religious tradition. And that reflects internal diversity. Sectarianism, with the -ism on the end of it, gets back to the same kinds of questions that I think Professor Clemente was asking with respect to fundamentalism. That’s about being sort of entrenched in an idea that your particular religious understanding and practice is the normative, authentic, and pure practice, and that all others are false in some ways. That is a devotional claim or—what I mean by a devotional claim, is that is a knowledge claim that is rooted within a particular religious commitment and understanding. And so religious literacy in this case would—again, it’s the principles of internal diversity, recognizing that different sects and different bodies of thought and practice are going to exist within religious traditions, but then also ensuring that any claim to be normative or to be orthodox by any of these different interpretive bodies is always a claim that is rooted within that religious tradition that we sometimes say is authentic. It’s authentic to those communities and what they believe. But it’s not exclusive. It’s not the only claim that exists within that religious tradition more broadly. And the concern is about—sects are fine. Different denominations, different interpretative bodies are fine and a good and sort of natural thing, given the breadth and the depth of these religious traditions. The problem is that -ism part of it, when it becomes a source of competition or even potentially violence between groups. And so that’s what needs to be interrogated and understood. FASKIANOS: So another question from John Francis, who’s the senior associate vice president for academic affairs at the University of Utah: If you were training new diplomats in other countries to be stationed in the United States, where a wide range of religious traditions thrive, how would you prepare them for dealing with such religious variation? HAYWARD: The same way I would—and thank you, again, for the question. The same way that I would with any other diplomats going to any other—the same way I do with foreign service officers at the Foreign Service Institute, who are going to work overseas. I would—I would invite them to think about their own assumptions and their own worldviews and their own understandings of what religion is, based on their own contexts that they grew up in. So how that shapes how they understand what religion is, in the ways I was speaking to before. So for example, in Protestant Christianity, we tend to emphasize belief as the sort of core principle of religious traditions. But other religious traditions might emphasize different forms of practice or community as sort of the central or principal factor. So recognizing your own situatedness and the ways in which you understand and respond to different religious traditions. I would invite those who are coming to work here to read up on the historical developments and reality of different religious communities and nonreligious communities in the U.S. and encourage them to look not just at some of the—what we call the world religions, or the major religions, but also at indigenous traditions and different practices within different immigrant communities. And I would have them look at the historical relationship between the state and different religious communities as well, including the Mormon tradition there in Utah, and how the experience of, for example, the Mormon community has shaped its own relationship with the state, with other religious communities on a whole host of issues as well. And then I would encourage—just as I was saying earlier—no diplomat going to the U.S. is going to become an expert on the religious context in the U.S., because it’s incredibly complex, just like anywhere else in the world. But to be able to have sort of a basic understanding to be able to then continue to ask the kinds of questions that are going to help to understand how any political action is taken or response to any policy issues kind of inevitably bumps up against particular religious or cultural commitments and values. FASKIANOS: Great. I’m going to take the next question from Will Carpenter, director of private equity principal investments at the Teacher Retirement System of Texas, and also taking a course at the Harvard Extension School. HAYWARD: Hey! FASKIANOS: I’m going to ask the second part of Will’s question. How will the current polarized domestic debate regarding U.S. history, which is often colored by the extremes—as a force for good only versus tainted by a foundation of injustice—impact America’s capacity to lead internationally? HAYWARD: Hmm, a lot. (Laughter.) Thank you for the question. I mean, I think the fact of polarization in the U.S. and the increasing difficulty that we’re facing in being able to have really deep conversations and frank conversations about historical experiences and perceptions of different communities, not just religiously, not just racially even, but across different—urban-rural, across socioeconomic divides, across educational divides and, of course, across political divides, and so on. I think that—I think that absolutely hampers our ability to engage within the global stage effectively. One, just because of the image that it gives to the rest of the world. So how can we—how can we have an authentic moral voice when we ourselves are having such a hard time engaging with one other in ways that reflect those values and that are grounded within those values? But also because I think get concern—with respect to religion questions in particular—I get concern about the increasing polarization and partisanization of religion in foreign policy and issues of religious freedom, and so on. Which means that we’re going to constantly have this sort of swinging back and forth then between Republican and Democratic administrations on how we understand and engage issues related to religion and foreign policy, different religious communities in particular, like Muslim communities worldwide, or on issues of religious freedom. So I think it’s incredibly critical—always has been, but is particularly right now at this historical moment—for us to be in the U.S. doing this hard work of having these conversations, and hearing, and listening to one another, and centering and being open about our values and having these conversations on that level of values. To be able to politically here in the U.S., much less overseas, to be able to work in ways that are effective. Irina, you’re muted. FASKIANOS: Thank you. (Laughs.) With that, we are at the end of our time. Thank you so much for this. This has been a really important hour of discussion. Again, we will send out the link to the webinar, as well as all the resources that you mentioned, Susan. Sorry we didn’t have the chat open so that we could focus on what you were saying and all the questions and comments that came forward. So we appreciate it. And thank you so much, again, for your time, Susan Hayward. And I just want to remind everybody that this is the last webinar of the semester, but we will be announcing the Winter/Spring Academic Webinar lineup in our Academic bulletin. And if you’re not already subscribed to that, you can email us at [email protected]. Just as a reminder, you can learn about CFR paid internships for students and fellowships for professors at CFR.org/careers. Follow @CFR_Academic on Twitter and visit CFR.org, ForeignAffairs.com, and ThinkGlobalHealth.org for research and analysis on global issues. Good luck with your exams. (Laughs.) Grading, taking them, et cetera. Wishing you all a happy Thanksgiving. And we look forward to seeing you again next semester. So, again, thank you to Susan Hayward. HAYWARD: Thank you, everybody. Take care.
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