Category Archives: Programs

The European Union and Its Neighborhood

Event Date: May 9

Reception 5:30 p.m.; Annual Meeting 6:00 p.m.; Dinner 6:15 p.m.; Program 7:30 p.m.

Location: Club Room, Hoogland Center for the Arts

Speaker: Konstantinos Kourtikakis, Associate Professor of Political Science, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

All programs are free and open to the public. Dinners require a reservation.

The European Union is surrounded by countries with political and economic systems that do not conform to its values in two important ways. First, while the EU supports democracy and good governance, most
of its neighbors in North Africa and Eastern Europe have embraced authoritarianism, despite occasional outbursts of democratic movements, such as the Maidan Revolution in Ukraine or the Arab Spring. And second, while the EU relies on the principles of the free market economy, many of its neighbors pursue economic policies that significantly distort market competition for political purposes.

The EU actively seeks to reduce these differences with neighboring countries by promoting pro-democracy and pro-free market reforms in its foreign policy. In this talk, Dr. Kourtikakis examines two types of foreign policy action the EU takes in this regard. The first is reaching out directly to governments with formal agreements that include penalties and rewards in exchange for reforms. And the second is providing technical support to government agencies, the civil society and business organizations, with the aim of helping them adopt democratic and free market norms and practices.

Dr. Kourtikakis is Teaching Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, with a specialization in comparative and international politics. He also holds affiliations with the European Union Center and the Center for Global Studies. He received his PhD in Political Science from the University of Pittsburgh in 2007, and his BA in European and International Economics and Politics from the University of Macedonia, in Greece, in 1997. His teaching and research interests revolve around the European Union and its external relations. His research examines the role of business and civil society networks in relations between the EU and its “international partners”, particularly the countries of Eastern Europe, North Africa and the Middle East, and most recently in EU-US relations.

The Political Culture of Mexico Through the 2018 Election

Event Date: April 9

Reception 5:30 p.m.; Dinner 6:15 p.m.; Program 7:30 p.m.

Program: Brookens Auditorium, University of Illinois at Springfield

Dinner & Reception: PAC Restaurant, University of Illinois at Springfield

Speaker: Christina Tapia Muro, Professor of Political Science, University of Colima, Mexico

All programs are free and open to the public. Dinners require a reservation.

Dr. Tapia’s presentation will explore the history of Mexico’s political leadership, placing emphasis on the political, social, and economic factors that contributed to Manuel Andres López Obrador’s 2018 election as president. She will discuss clientelism (a system of political patronage and corruption) and efforts of the current government to eradicate it. An advocate of the working class and supported by the National Regeneration Movement, President López Obrador is a critic of the Institutional Revolutionary Party that has dominated national politics.

Dr. Tapia earned a Ph.D. in economics and administrative sciences from the University of Jalisco, Guadalajara, Mexico. She also has a post-doctoral specialization on public policy and gender justice from the Latin American Council of Social Sciences and the Latin American College of Social Sciences, Brazil. She has written numerous peer-reviewed articles on clientelism in Mexico in such venues as Estudios Sociologicos and the Asian Journal of Latin American Studies.

“INF and the Future of US-Russia Arms Control”

Event Date: March 27

Reception 5:30 p.m.; Dinner 6:15 p.m.; Program 7:30 p.m.

Program: Conference Room C/D, University of Illinois at Springfield

Dinner & Reception: Conference Room C/D, University of Illinois at Springfield

All programs are free and open to the public. Dinners require a reservation.

The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF Treaty) has long stood as a symbol of the end of the Cold War. However, this icon of the arms control regime appears to be on its last legs with the announcement that the US is withdrawing from the treaty in response to Russian violations. The announced withdrawal has drawn both criticism and applause.

What are the arguments for staying in or leaving the INF Treaty? What does the end of the treaty mean for the future of the nuclear reduction treaty, New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START)? What does it mean for arms control in general? Finally, what does all of this say about the relationship between the US and Russia and the international order?

Jeffrey Edmonds, an expert on Russia and Eurasia, will address these questions. Edmonds’ research focuses on the Russian military, foreign policy, Russian threat perceptions, and Russian information and cyber operations. Most recently, Edmonds served as the Director for Russia on the National Security Council (NSC) and acting Senior Director for Russia during the 2017 presidential transition. Edmonds was also the lead director during a review of United States policy towards Russia, culminating in a presidentially approved strategy that had global impact.

Prior to serving in the NSC, Edmonds served as a military analyst with the Central Intelligence Agency, covering Eurasian militaries. He has served in the U.S. Army on both active duty and the reserves for 22 years, with tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. Edmonds holds an M.P.A. from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, an M.A. from Boston University in Religious Studies, and a B.S. from the United States Military Academy at West Point.