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University of Iowa News Release


Aug. 20, 2007

'U.S. And World Affairs' Series Offers Iowans A Pre-Caucus Chautauqua

Iowans across the state can share in a 12-week overview of U.S. foreign policy with a rich mix of local and outside talent, thanks to a University of Iowa course that David Schoenbaum, a UI history professor, has opened to the community as a civic Chautauqua.

The course "U.S. and the World" will begin Monday, Aug. 27 and continue through Monday, Nov. 26. Scheduled with an eye to the presidential caucuses, all of the sessions will be free and open to the public from 11 to 11:50 a.m. and noon to 1:20 p.m. Mondays at the Englert Theater in downtown Iowa City. The sessions will also be repeated Monday evenings at Grinnell College, and noon on Tuesdays at Drake University.

Though course registration is capped at 150, the Englert can hold up to 700 people.

Full course materials are already accessible on ICON, the UI's online course management system. Visitors from government, media and business will also be featured and answer call-in questions at 10 a.m. on Iowa Public Radio's morning talk show "The Exchange" prior to each Monday's session.

"I still remember 2000, when a whole presidential campaign came and went with practically no mention of foreign policy," Schoenbaum said. "We don't want to do that again. What we don't know can hurt us. Knowledge is power. This time, at least, I want to make sure that the subject comes up, that we in Iowa get a chance to talk seriously about it and that the candidates know we're watching."

Among the visitors will be veterans of both Republican and Democratic administrations, with collective memories reaching back to the 1960s. Speakers include a former assistant secretary of defense; former ambassadors with experience in the Middle East, the Balkans and North Korea; and a retired foreign service officer who worked in the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research in the run-up months to the war in Iraq and now is on the staff of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. Second U.S. District Rep. Dave Loebsack will keynote the opening session. Former Second U.S. District Rep. Jim Leach will talk about China. Andrew Nagorski, a senior editor at Newsweek and longtime foreign correspondent, will share a session on media, with Nagorski talking about reporting on the world and Christoph von Marschall from Der Tagesspiegel, Berlin, discussing reporting on America.

So far as Schoenbaum knows, there is no other series like this in or outside of Iowa. Yet ironically, he said, all he intended when he first took it on was the basic civic education a state university exists to provide.

The course began in 1996 when Schoenbaum and James Lindsay, a UI political scientist, agreed that a public university with several thousand foreign students, in an export-dependent state, in history's most powerful country, had a responsibility to spell out the facts of America's global life to all interested student-citizens.

"Of course, I wanted to talk history, just as Jim wanted to talk institutions and process," Schoenbaum said.

But Schoenbaum said they both believed that something else was needed, and it wasn't more professors. "In a part of the country that too often sees foreign policy makers only on TV screens or a local TV channel's 'World in Sixty Seconds,' we wanted face-to-face engagement with professionals who have actually made or watched policy up close," Schoenbaum said.

The course is offered through the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences with additional support from the following offices and organizations: the UI School of Journalism and Mass Communication; UI International Programs, which is co-sponsoring the last five lectures in the series as part of its International Mondays lecture series; the National Security Network in Washington D.C.; the Rosenfield Program in Public Affairs at Grinnell; the Drake Center for Global Citizenship; ACT; Iowa State Bank & Trust; The Gazette; West Music and the University Lecture Committee.

For more information or special accommodations to attend any of these lectures, contact Schoenbaum at 319-335-2299, or For information about the Grinnell sessions, email For more information about the Drake sessions, email

Following is the schedule for this fall:

- Aug. 27: U.S. Rep. Dave Loebsack, Second District, Iowa, will give the keynote address.

- Sept. 10: Andrew Nagorski from Newsweek and Christoph von Marschall from Der Tagesspiegel, Berlin, will discuss "See Ourselves As Others See Us."

- Sept. 17: Robert Hunter of the RAND Corporation and former U.S. ambassador to NATO, will discuss theory and practice in U.S. foreign policy.

- Sept. 24: Wendy Sherman of Albright Associates, and former counselor to the U.S. State Department, will discuss theory and practice in U.S. foreign policy.

- Oct. 1: Greg Thielmann of the Senate Intelligence Committee staff and former State Department Intelligence and Research, and Lawrence J. Korb with the Center for American Progress and former Assistant Secretary of Defense, will discuss force structure and intelligence.

- Oct. 8: Janne Nolan of the University of Pittsburgh and former State Department and Senate staff member will discuss nuclear proliferation.

- Oct. 15: Jim Leach of the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton and former Iowa U.S. representative will discuss issues related to China.

- Oct. 22: Samuel Lewis, formerly of the U.S. Institute of Peace and former U.S. ambassador to Israel, will discuss issues in the Middle East.

- Oct. 29: Robert Pastor of the Center for North American Studies, American University and former National Security Council staff, will discuss "The Hemisphere."

- Nov. 5: Arvind Dandekar of Fastek, based in Cedar Rapids and London, and Carl Czarnik of Gerdau AmeriSteel, with operations in Wilton, Iowa, and Canoas, Brazil, will discuss "Local Economy and Global Economy."

- Nov. 12: Frank Cownie, mayor of Des Moines, and Peter W. Soverel with the Wild Salmon Center and former White House and NATO staff member will discuss "Energy and the Environment as Foreign Policy."

- Nov. 19: No course scheduled due to Thanksgiving break.

- Nov. 26: Mary Gilchrist of the Massachusetts State Laboratory Institute and former director of the UI Hygienic Lab and Michael Schoenbaum with the National Institute of Health and former RAND Palestine Project will discuss "Public Health as Foreign Policy."

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500

CONTACTS: David Schoenbaum, 319-335-2299 or david-schoenbaum@uiowa.ede; Lois J. Gray, University News Services, 319-384-0077,