Message from the Dean–April 2024

April is a month of showers, and in Wisconsin this means rain, sleet, and snow! However, the recent precipitation has not dampened our spirits; instead, it has nourished our curiosity about the many events happening across the International Division. On April 5th, the Institute for Regional and International Studies (IRIS) hosted World Cinema Day for middle and high school students around the state. IRIS organizes this important event each year through its Wisconsin International Resource Consortium. The following day, the IRIS African Studies Program participated in the University of Wisconsin 175th Anniversary Community Open House with a special edition of its Children’s African Story Hour, which has introduced hundreds of young people to African literature over the years. Details about both events can be found below. On April 8th, we were honored to host Belkis Florentina Izquierdo Torres, Vice President and Magistrate, Special Jurisdiction for the Peace of Colombia, for the annual Mildred Fish-Harnack Human Rights and Democracy Lecture. This event, named for a UW-Madison graduate and staunch human rights defender, is sponsored in partnership with the Human Rights Program, Global Legal Studies Center, Gaylord Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, and IRIS’ Latin American, Caribbean, and Iberian Studies Program.

While these exciting activities were going on, I had the opportunity to speak about the International Division—and the life of its dean—at several events this month. I was the keynote speaker at the fundraising banquet for the University of Wisconsin-Madison chapter of Engineers Without Borders, where students showcased the water, solar, and school construction projects in which they’re involved around the world. I followed by connecting the dots among biogas, latrines, and girls’ schooling based on my years of research in Tanzania. I also joined several other university leaders in a fireside chat as part of the Global Health Institute’s Global Health Symposium, and I particularly enjoyed speaking at the International Learning Community (ILC) roundtable dinner and meeting the engaging students who have chosen this very special living experience on campus. I hope you share my pride in our support of the ILC and IRIS, and in our strong partnerships with colleagues in global health, engineering, and human rights.