Future Programs

“Why Protest”

Event Date: Monday, May 3rd, 2021

Event Time: 7:00 p.m. via Zoom

Presenter: Dr. Susan Stokes

Photography ©Mara Lavitt
June 6, 2018
Susan Stokes.

Dr. Susan Stokes teaches courses that reflect her research interests in political development, political parties and democracy, comparative political behavior, and distributive politics at the University of Chicago.

People face many inconveniences and obstacles when they think about joining protests. Social scientists focus on these “costs of participation”—the time and expense needed to travel to demonstrations, fear of violence and police reprisals, the opportunity costs of time spent—to explain why relatively few people join street protests. But it’s also important to understand that there are “costs of abstention”—emotional and social downsides to staying home when people around you are going out to the streets to protest about issues that you care about.

When people decide whether to join demonstrations, they implicitly weigh these costs of abstention against the costs of participation. This balancing helps explain some puzzles, such as why people sometimes participate more after they observe demonstrators being treated harshly by the police. It also helps explain the dynamics of last summer’s racial justice protests, which were massive, despite fears about the pandemic.

Dr. Stokes tells us this about herself:  “I received my undergraduate degree at Harvard, in anthropology, and my PhD from Stanford, in political science. I taught at the University of Chicago in the 1990s and early 2000s, before moving to Yale University. I spent 13 years at Yale, including stints as Chair of the Department of Political Science and of the Council on Latin American and Iberian Studies. I returned to the University of Chicago in 2018. I am the Blake Distinguished Service Professor of Political Science and Faculty Chair of the Chicago Center on Democracy.”

Dr. Stokes has written and co-authored prize-winning books and published articles in the American Political Science Review, World Politics, and other journals.


Climate Change Action: A Civic Responsibility

Event Date: Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Event Time: 7:00 PM via Zoom

Presenter: Professor Don Wuebbles

Spring 2021 ECCE Speaker Series Event  

Co-Sponsored by UIS Department of Environmental Science, UIS Sustainability Committee, and World Affairs Council of Central Illinois

Recording available April 5th

What is climate change and how serious is it? How do I know climate change is real? How will climate change impact me, my and other communities, the economy, Illinois, the U.S., and our planet? I’m only one person… How can what I do make any difference?

UIS welcomes Professor Don Wuebbles (Harry E. Preble Professor of Atmospheric Science at the University of Illinois and White House expert on climate science under the Obama administration), Dr. Julie Maldonado (Associate Director for the Livelihoods Knowledge Exchange Network), and Debra Jacobson (Associate Director, Prairie Research Institute) who together will provide answers to these and other questions raised about climate change, its impacts on society and ecosystems, and the need for climate change adaptation and mitigation response.

Don Wuebbles is an expert in atmospheric physics and chemistry with over 500 scientific publications related to the Earth’s climate, air quality, and the stratospheric ozone layer. He has led international and national scientific assessments, including as Coordinating Lead Author on several international climate assessments led by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that resulted in IPCC being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007. Dr. Wuebbles is a recipient of the Cleveland Abbe Award from the American Meteorological Society, the Stratospheric Ozone Protection Award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the Bert Bolin Global Environmental Change Award from the American Geophysical Union.

Julie Maldonado is a public anthropologist who has consulted for the UN Development Programme and World Bank on resettlement, post-disaster needs assessments, and climate change. She worked for the US Global Change Research Program and is an author on the 3rd and 4th US National Climate Assessments. Her book, Seeking Justice in an Energy Sacrifice Zone: Standing on Vanishing Land in Coastal Louisiana, and co-edited volume, Challenging the Prevailing Paradigm of Displacement and Resettlement: Risks, Impoverishment, Legacies, Solutions, were released in 2018. Dr. Maldonado is a Lecturer at UC Santa Barbara (Environmental Studies Program).

Debra Jacobson, an environmental engineer, leads the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center’s (ISTC) Technical Assistance Program and serves as the Operations Director for the Midwestern Regional Climate Center at the Illinois State Water Survey. Ms. Jacobson provides technical, environmental, and safety compliance assistance to industrial facilities within Illinois, and works closely with federal, state, and local government agencies and industry trade groups on environmental matters affecting industry.

Julia Wasik will serve as the student moderator for this event.  Julia is a UIS sophomore in the Capital Scholars Honors Program majoring in Global Studies and minoring in Legal Studies.  Julia is passionate about finding inclusive, interdisciplinary solutions for global climate change.

“The Hacker and the State”

Event Date: Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Event Time: 7:00 PM via Zoom

Presenter: Dr. Ben Buchanan

Tracing the conflict of wills and interests among modern nations, Ben Buchanan reveals details of how China, Russia, North Korea, Britain, and the United States hack one another in a relentless struggle for dominance. His analysis moves from underseas cable taps to underground nuclear sabotage, from blackouts and data breaches to billion-dollar heists and election interference. Using insider information based on interviews, declassified files, and forensic analysis of company reports, his book The Hacker and the State sets aside fantasies of cyber-annihilation to explore the real geopolitical competition of the digital age.

Tracing the conflict of wills and interests among modern nations, Ben Buchanan reveals details of how China, Russia, North Korea, Britain, and the United States hack one another in a relentless struggle for dominance. His analysis moves from underseas cable taps to underground nuclear sabotage, from blackouts and data breaches to billion-dollar heists and election interference. Using insider information based on interviews, declassified files, and forensic analysis of company reports, his book The Hacker and the State sets aside fantasies of cyber-annihilation to explore the real geopolitical competition of the digital age.

Buchanan illuminates this continuous cycle of espionage and deception, attack and counterattack, destabilization and retaliation. He explains why cyber attacks are far less destructive than we anticipated, far more pervasive, and much harder to prevent. The contest for geopolitical advantage has moved into cyberspace. The United States and its allies can no longer dominate the way they once did. The nation that hacks best will triumph.

Ben Buchanan is a faculty member at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, where he conducts research on the intersection of cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, and statecraft. He is the author of two books, The Hacker and the State (Harvard University Press, 2020) and The Cybersecurity Dilemma (Oxford University Press, 2017). He is also the Senior Faculty Fellow and Director of the CyberAI Project at Georgetown’s Center for Security and Emerging Technology, a five-year $57 million effort to study AI and international affairs. Buchanan’s other publications include journal articles and peer-reviewed papers on attributing cyber attacks, deterrence in cyber operations, cryptography, election cybersecurity, and the spread of malicious code between nations and non-state actors, as well as articles in the Washington Post, War on the Rocks, and Lawfare. Ben received his PhD in War Studies from King’s College London, where he was a Marshall Scholar. He earned master’s and undergraduate degrees from Georgetown University.

“Viruses, Vaccines, and Vaccination – Bringing an End to a Global Pandemic”

Event Date: February 18, 2021

Event Time: 7:00 p.m. via Zoom

Presenter: Dr. Rajesh Govindaiah

Rajesh Govindaiah, MD, is the Memorial Health System senior vice president and chief medical officer, responsible for administrative and clinical leadership and coordination. He collaborates with physicians, advanced practice providers, trainees, and the administrative/clinical staffs of all health system affiliates to advance the clinical environment. He oversees activities to improve patient outcomes in keeping with the Memorial Health System mission to improve the health of the people and communities served.

A 2000 graduate of the University of Michigan Medical School, Dr.
Govindaiah completed his internal medicine residency at St. Joseph
Mercy Hospital in Ann Arbor in 2005. He joined Springfield Clinic in 2006 and served there as chairman of the department of Hospital Medicine until 2010. He continues to practice clinically as a hospitalist.

Dr. Govindaiah has been actively involved in quality initiatives at Memorial Medical Center and served as co-chair of the Illinois Hospital Association’s Medical Executive Forum. Dr. Govindaiah is an associate professor of internal medicine at Southern Illinois University School of Medicine and a Fellow of the American College of Physicians.

Roses from Kenya: Labor, Environment, and the Global Trade in Cut Flowers”

Event Date: December 3, 2020

Event Time: 7:00 p.m. via Zoom

Presenter: Dr. Megan Styles

Kenya supplies more than 35% of the cut flowers, including roses, sold in the United Kingdom and the European Union. The industry provides a critical source of foreign exchange and employs more than 90,000 Kenyans, 65-70% of whom are women. While floriculture generates wealth, it also generates controversy. Critics point out poor working conditions and raise concerns about the environmental impacts of rose production.

Dr. Styles, a cultural anthropologist, has conducted research since 2004 near Lake Naivasha, where 70% of Kenyan flowers are grown. She will describe what life is like for workers on Kenyan rose farms, as well as attempts to regulate this lucrative but controversial industry. Her talk will focus on how Kenyans understand this industry and what they hope to achieve by growing roses for European markets. Understanding Kenyan perspectives on floriculture provides insight into future trends in African political and economic development.

Megan Styles is an associate professor and chair of the Department of Environmental Studies at the University of Illinois Springfield (UIS). She holds a Ph.D. and M.A. in Environmental Anthropology from the University of Washington Seattle, and a B.A. in Anthropology and Environmental Studies from Washington University in St. Louis. Her research focuses on sustainable agricultural development, rural livelihoods, and conservation issues in the United States and East Africa. She is the co-editor of CultureAgriculture Food & Environment (CAFF). 

Dr. Styles is the author of Roses from Kenya: Labor, Environment, and the Global Trade in Cut Flowers (2019, University of Washington Press). She teaches courses focused on environmental sustainability, the human dimensions of environmental issues, and sustainable food systems.

“Water Diplomacy in the Middle East”

Event Date: November 9, 2020 Event Time: 7:00 p.m. via Zoom Presenter: Dr. Rachel Havrelock Dr. Rachel Havrelock will explore water diplomacy in the Middle East, highlighting the region’s water history and the innovations making new forms of water use and distribution possible. After appraising new projects on the horizon, she will discuss their applicability to Illinois and North American waters. Dr. Havrelock will also examine the era of the Oslo Peace Accords and the many joint Israeli-Palestinian organizations that arose subsequently. Some twenty-five years later, only one group, the trilateral Jordanian-Palestinian-Israeli NGO Ecopeace Middle East, survives, employing a unique mode of environmental peace building and collective planning. Dr. Havrelock is the founder and director of the University of Illinois Chicago (UIC) Freshwater Lab and co-creator of the Freshwater Stories digital platform. She is an Associate Professor of English at UIC and author of River Jordan: The Mythology of a Dividing Line (University of Chicago Press), as well as the forthcoming The Joshua Generation: Israeli Occupation and the Bible (Princeton University Press, 2020). A childhood of freshwater swimming around Detroit and the Great Lakes fed Dr. Havrelock’s interest in water and environmental peacemaking. Havrelock’s current book project, Pipeline: How Oil Created the Modern Middle East and How Water Can Transform It, chronicles the role of oil extraction and infrastructure in the militarization of the Middle East and suggests how regional water issues are related. Her work was supported by a University of Cambridge fellowship and a College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Dean’s Research award. She received an alumni impact award from the U.S. Department of State Global Fellows Program in 2014. In addition to the Middle East, Dr.Havrelock’s work addresses the Great Lakes as a transborder water system both abundant and imperiled. She holds grants from the Mott Foundation and the Humanities Without Walls Initiative funded by the Mellon Foundation.

This presentation is in collaboration with the UIS ECCE Series.

Diplomatic Challenges and Opportunities for U.S. Cuban Relations

Event Date: October 15, 2020 Event Time: 7:00 p.m. via Zoom Presenter: Ambassador Jeffrey DeLaurentis

On July 20, 2015, a little more than five years ago, the United States and Cuba reestablished diplomatic relations after more than 55 years of acrimony. It was a victory for diplomacy, sanity and American interests and values, hailed throughout the region and the world. It did not last long. Today, government to government communication is minimal, with a cascade of new sanctions and harsh rhetoric from Washington. Career diplomat Ambassador Jeffrey DeLaurentis was dispatched to Cuba in 2014 to build a new embassy and relationship and rode the diplomatic roller coaster until mid-2017 when a new American administration dramatically changed course. What happened and why? DeLaurentis has a lot to say about the challenges of forging a new beginning with Cuba in the best interest of the United States, about what worked and what did not, and about those who question the merits of sustaining such a relationship. He will explore why we need to rebuild the relationship through diplomacy, dialogue and principled disagreement.

Ambassador (ret.) Jeffrey DeLaurentis is a Distinguished Resident Fellow in Latin American Studies, Institute for the Study of Diplomacy, Walsh School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University, and Senior Adviser, Albright Stonebridge Group.

During his 28-year career in the U.S. Foreign Service, Ambassador Jeffrey DeLaurentis worked almost exclusively on Western Hemisphere issues and as a multilateral diplomat at the United Nations. He served as the first Charge d’Affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Havana following the re-establishment of diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba, and as a principal negotiator for the many agreements concluded and dialogues launched between the two countries until January 2017. Prior to taking up his Cuba post in August 2014, he was the Ambassador for Special Political Affairs at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations. Previously, he served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Western Hemisphere.

DeLaurentis, a graduate of the Georgetown University Walsh School of Foreign Service and Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs, is a recipient of multiple State Department awards. He began his State Department career in 1991 as a consular officer in Havana and returned to Cuba as Political-Economic Section Chief in 1999-2002. In Washington, DeLaurentis served as the Chief of Staff to the Under Secretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs, Special Assistant to the Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, and Director of Inter-American Affairs at the National Security Council. His last assignment in the Foreign Service was at the Harvard Kennedy School as a Senior Diplomatic Fellow. He recently completed a fellowship at Columbia University and is a non-resident Visiting Fellow at Harvard’s David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies, Cuba Studies Program.


The Saudi-Iranian Rivalry and the New Middle East Cold War

Event Date: September 9, 2020

Event Time: 7:00 p.m. via Zoom

Presenter: Dr. Gregory Gause, Texas A&M University

Saudi Arabia and Iran are contesting for influence across the Middle East, in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and the Gulf. Their contest is often framed as a sectarian fight, Sunni v. Shia. But the roots of the conflict have more to do with domestic political crises across the Arab world and old-fashioned balance of power politics. This presentation will look at the causes of the new Middle East Cold War and how other parties, along with Saudi Arabia and Iran, play into it.

F. Gregory Gause, III is Professor of International Affairs at the Bush School of Government and Public Service, Texas A&M University. His research focuses on the international politics of the Middle East, particularly the Arabian Peninsula and the Persian Gulf, and American foreign policy toward the region.

Previously Dr. Gause taught at the University of Vermont (1995-2014) and Columbia University (1987-1995) and was Fellow for Arab and Islamic Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York(1993-1994). In 2009 he was a Fulbright Scholar at the American University in Kuwait and in 2010 was a research fellow in Saudi Arabia.

Gause has published three books, most recently The International Relations of the Persian Gulf. His articles have appeared in Foreign Affairs and other journals and edited volumes. He received his Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1987.



The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is a serious risk to public health. It has resulted in Governor Pritzker’s executive order to “shelter in place” and practice “social distancing” to reduce infections including the CDC’s guideline to limit indoor events to 10 people. Thus, the World Affairs Council of Central Illinois had to postpone the March-April Great Decisions program series, as well as the April and May programs to be rescheduled in the next program year.The next scheduled program will be in September. Check the website for program information and the September newsletter around mid to late August.

Public Health Issues in Sub-Saharan Africa: A Focus on Ghana

Event Date: March 5

Presenter: Dr.(Mrs.) Victoria Bam

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

Location: Public Affairs Center (PAC), University of Illinois, Springfield

Reception and Dinner: PAC Dining Room

Program: Brookens Auditorium

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

Africa has the world’s highest rate of death from preventable diseases, despite progress made over the last two decades. What are the causes of the premature deaths and disabilities that rob African nations of their human
resources and affect their productivity and economic growth? Why do many children die before the age of five? Why do some pregnant women not deliver in health facilities? Why does Ghana have so many injuries, and who are the most affected by this and with what consequences? Dr. Bam’s talk will explore the links between public health and development; major reasons for ill health, disabilities, and deaths in Africa; public health issues in Ghana and that country’s health system; as well as strategies and challenges in attaining universal health coverage.

Ghana has had ten years of developing its emergency health care system with the support of United States institutions. Dr. Bam’s talk will highlight the success story of this US Ghana partnership.

Dr. (Mrs.) Victoria Bam is a senior lecturer at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Ghana, and a Fulbright Scholar in Residence at Millikin University, Decatur, Illinois. She holds a BSc. (Hons) degree in Nursing from the University of Ghana, Accra, and a Ph.D. in Community Health.

She is a registered nurse and a foundation fellow of the Ghana College of Nurses and Midwives. Dr. Bam’s teaching areas include Public Health Nursing, and Leadership and Management in Nursing. She has held the position of Head of the Department of Nursing at KNUST and served as Vice-Dean of the Faculty of Allied Health Sciences, KNUST. She has authored a number of peer-reviewed publications from her research and collaborative work. Her main research interest is in public health interventions in maternal and child health and emergency care.