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Monday, February 18, 2013

A Day of Activism

day.jpg Dozens of students packed into the Social Sciences building Tuesday, February 12th for A Day of Activism, an all-day event hosted by the Institute for Global Studies. A highlight of the event was an alumni panel luncheon featuring three Global Studies graduates who described their life after graduation and how they obtained jobs in their field. Matt Buechner, Nora Radtke, and Desiree Guida all graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2010 with majors in Global Studies. During the luncheon they offered key advice to undergraduates who will soon be looking for jobs of their own.

Matt Buechner is the Executive Assistant for a local nonprofit called Twin Cities Diversity in Practice, whose mission is to attract, recruit, advance, and retain attorneys of color in the Twin Cities legal community. Upon graduation, Buechner went to work at a for-profit corporation. But after putting in long hours at a job he wasn't particularly passionate about, he decided to look for a position at a nonprofit. Buechner gave students advice on transitioning from a corporation to a nonprofit, and how to use experience in the for-profit industry to apply for a nonprofit job.
Nora Radtke is the Development Assistant at the Center for Victims of Torture (CVT), an international nonprofit dedicated to healing survivors of torture. She had always hoped to work for CVT. The valuable experience she gained through interning at the Human Rights Program at the University helped her get her current position at CVT. Before obtaining her position at CVT, Radtke worked for AmeriCorps. Radtke gave students an insight into what it is like working in the human rights field, and how to take advantage of opportunities on campus to help qualify you for such jobs.
Desiree Guida works on youth programs at Common Bond Communities, a nonprofit provider of affordable housing. Guida also worked for AmeriCorps before starting her current position. Her experience exemplifies how internships can lead to full time jobs.
The alumni gave great tips on getting hired in today's difficult job market. Recent graduates looking to work in the nonprofit field should start by searching for jobs on sites like the Minnesota Council of Nonprofit Job Board. Networking is also important. Buechner says, "Anyone can be a potential employer, so network and keep good contacts." He recommends joining groups like the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network, where you can meet others who have recently graduated and are in the same boat when it comes to looking for jobs or holding down an entry level position. Buechner also recommends that all graduates have a LinkedIn profile, and says that some employers won't even look at your resume if they cannot find you on that site.
Radtke explains that having experience in grant writing will give you a "one-up" when applying for nonprofit jobs. She says that going on informational interviews at prospective places of employment, and volunteering at organizations you wish to someday work for are great ways to get noticed and can help you get hired in the future. Gearing your senior research paper towards a specific area of interest in a field that you want to work in can be a way to stand out at an interview and show an organization you are serious and passionate about the work they do. Radtke focused her senior paper on human rights issues, and it helped her with her interview at CVT. She also expresses the importance of respecting and investing in funders, because you may be able to network and acquire a job through them.
Guida tells students they can use their study abroad experience to show that they are independent and able to manage themselves in different settings, skills most employers look for when hiring. She explained that you can also use your second language to network, even if you don't use it in your actual job. It could open doors for you in the future. Guida warns students to keep in mind that entry level jobs, especially in nonprofit, will consist of mundane work tasks they might not enjoy, and that they will have to learn to live on an "entry level budget." If you work hard you will be able to move up into higher, more rewarding positions.
The Global Studies degree enables graduates to apply for a broad range of jobs, and if students take advantage of all the opportunities and resources they have on campus, they should be able to find a position within their area of interest.
Written by Wren Bentley.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Shannon Golden on International Law in Local Context: The ICC in Northern Uganda

shannon.jpg On On Thursday, February 7th as part of the Holocaust, Genocide, and Mass Violence Studies Workshop, Shannon Golden presented a subsection of her dissertation called "International Law in Local Context: The ICC in Northern Uganda." Golden is a PhD candidate in Sociology and recently completed 11 months of fieldwork in northern Uganda for her dissertation which explores the process of social reconstruction in post-war northern Uganda. Her presentation on Thursday considered the knowledge about and perceptions of the impact of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in Lukodi, Anyadwe, and Awach, three rural villages in northern Uganda. Golden interviewed 91 conflict survivors during her fieldwork in Uganda, hoping to understand why communities have differing perceptions of the ICC and whether or not the ICC has been successful in disseminating knowledge to local communities.

Uganda is one of 8 active cases in the International Criminal Court focused on victims' rights. The ICC's involvement in Uganda started in 2003, and in 2010 the ICC started an outreach program aimed at the communities in northern Uganda. Golden questions whether the ICC's outreach program achieved goals that were set during northern Uganda's process of rebuilding after two decades of war between the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) led by Joseph Kony, and the government's Uganda Peoples' Defense Force (UPDF). She found the official ICC Outreach Report to show a one dimensional picture of success often contradictory with her own research. The ICC figures indicate that 98% of conflict survivors polled were happy with the presence of ICC in their country.
The 91 interviewees were systematically selected leaders and residents of the three rural villages. She asked these survivors about the process of rebuilding and a few about ICC's involvement in the communities. Golden received both positive and negative feedback on the ICC, and came to a general consensus that most people in Uganda had little or no knowledge of the ICC with women being much more likely to have no knowledge. She found that Lukodi residents had a higher knowledge of the ICC compared to those of Anyadwe and Awach. This could be linked to the fact that Lukodi has had a high level of exposure to the ICC outreach events in 2010, and a high level of delegation visits since a massacre that occurred in 2004.
Positive perceptions of the ICC gathered by Golden had to do with locals believing that the ICC drove the LRA away, bringing peace to Uganda and letting people move back to areas they were forced out of. Some believed the ICC would bring needed punishment for crimes committed and bring justice to victims. The most frequently mentioned positive perception was that the ICC could deter others from committing similar crimes in the future.
Negative perceptions mainly had to do with frustration at the lack of action by the ICC, as no LRA leader has been tried for his crimes. A handful of people talked about the ICC as a "fairy tale;" a beautiful story that will never come true. They feel the ICC hasn't done enough, and that their outreach programs have not been beneficial to the majority of the survivors.
Based on this mix of feedback, Golden assembled her own theories as to why perceptions of the ICC are so varied. Golden states that her first theory about the error in translation between the ICC and the local community is the proliferation of international governmental and nongovernmental organizations. Uganda has seen a postwar influx of international organizations and locals have developed a 'tool kit' to help them make sense of these organizations. The ICC has fallen into the same category as other IGOs and NGOs because they are not integrated into the daily lives of the locals, and some see them as having their own agenda that does not fit with the local situation.
Golden's second theory is that the ICC is disconnected from the suffering. This relates to the view by many locals that the ICC is distant and far removed from the situation. One of Golden's respondents told her that, "Unless they [the ICC] begin to become practical on the ground, they would remain an irrelevant institution and not very helpful even to people who suffer."
The third theory is that there are mismatched cultural schemas. Locals in Uganda often do not understand the way the ICC sees their situation. Although residents of Lukodi have more knowledge of the ICC, the organization frequently does not make sense to them because ICC programs and methods of intervention does not fit with their worldview. Another respondent said, "For them [the ICC], they emphasize justice. Over emphasis on justice does not give room to forgiveness and amnesty. So that is the part of ICC that I cannot understand." A young respondent told Golden, "And to me, the ICC doesn't understand anything."
The last theory has to do with the locals experience with local courts and how it has influenced their view of the ICC. The community is extremely critical of courts, again because they feel they are too far removed from local communities. They believe courts and the ICC are unable to recognize the history of the area, the gray areas of their situation and culture.
Golden's data and fieldwork show that there are problems with the ICC's approach to the situation in northern Uganda. She has been able to come up with theories as to why these problems exist, and why local Ugandans have varied perceptions of the ICC. While Golden doesn't think the ICC reciprocates what the people on the ground want, she acknowledges the difficulty of taking local's feedback and making the changes they ask for.
The Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies organizes the Holocaust, Genocide, and Mass Violence Studies Workshop. Click here to see the workshop schedule. If you are interested in participating in the workshop, contact Shannon Golden.
Written by Wren Bentley.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Roundtables: International Criminal Justice

Shannon Golden and Hollie Nyseth Brehm asked four leading experts to weigh in on some of the most controversial issues facing international criminal justice, including its potential interference with state sovereignty and its capacity to really curb human rights abuses. Continue reading...

Monday, February 11, 2013

Hollie Nyseth Brehm on Disaggregating Genocide in Rwanda

hollie.jpg The Holocaust, Genocide, and Mass Violence Studies Workshop resumed on Friday, January 25, with Hollie Nyseth Brehm's presentation on "Disaggregating Genocide in Rwanda." Brehm, a PhD candidate in Sociology and graduate human rights minor, is currently in the midst of two projects. Her dissertation investigates causes and processes of genocide on the societal, state, and international levels using detailed case studies of Rwanda, the former Yugoslavia, and Sudan. Brehm is also working with Professor Chris Uggen on a project exploring the age and sex distributions of participation in genocidal acts.

Two of the most enduring findings in criminology are that participation in crime declines with age and that men have higher participation rates than women at every age. The peak age of people who commit crimes is generally late adolescence to the early twenties. This finding holds across diverse types of crimes (from homicide to burglary), societies, and time periods. However, these well-established theories have never been tested for the crime of genocide.
Genocide scholars, including University of Minnesota professor Joachim Savelsberg, have begun to use techniques from criminology of late. Brehm and Uggen imported criminological methods into their study of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. Using data gathered from the Gacaca courts, which conducted well over one million trials and constitute the largest database of genocide perpetrators to date. These community-level courts tried three main categories of crimes: 1) planning, organizing, supervising, engaging in sexual violence; 2) murder; and 3) property crimes, including looting and destruction. After reviewing data from the Gacaca courts, Brehm and Uggen will be able determine whether or not the age and sex distributions of involvement in the genocide mirror the general crime age and sex distributions.
Brehm also discussed one subsection of her dissertation on the causes of genocide. A statistic common throughout the literature on the Rwandan genocide notes that 333.3 killings took place per hour. This statistic, though accurate in a sense, masks important dimensions of the genocide. Given the relatively small geographic space and relatively short timeframe of the genocide, much regional and temporal variation in killings existed. Brehm first asks what variation occurred and then hypothesizes reasons for the variation.
Violence appears to have been concentrated more heavily in the more southern areas of the country. There are 145 communes in Rwanda, which are the equivalent of municipalities in the U.S. Deaths per commune range from 71 to 54,700 during the genocide. Brehm has begun to test several hypotheses that help explain this distribution of violence.
Hypotheses accounting for this regional variation include case-specific factors, regional characteristics, population and resource explanations, and historical elements. A fundamental theory in sociology suggests that communities can be organized against crime. In the case of genocide, though, a community might be organized for crime. In other words, community-level factors might encourage or discourage specific crimes.
Over the next two years, Brehm will perform similar examinations on the former Yugoslavia and Sudan as she develops her arguments on the causes and processes of genocide. The Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies organizes the Holocaust, Genocide, and Mass Violence Studies Workshop. Click here to see the workshop schedule. If you are interested in participating in the workshop, contact Shannon Golden.
Click here to read Brehm's article "The Crime of Genocide."
Written by Whitney Taylor.