Provost's Global Forum 2024

Friday, February 23, 2024 - Saturday, February 24, 2024

This event is made possible through the generous support and contributions from the Stanley-University of Iowa Foundation Support Organization, UI International Programs, the UI College of Education, the Linda R. Baker Teacher Leader Center, the African Human Rights Coalition, and United Action for Youth. Activities for the 2024 Provost's Global Forum are hosted in collaboration with the Linda R. Baker Teacher Leader Center, UI International Programs, United Action for Youth, and FilmScene.

The Provost’s Global Forum - LGBTQ Youth in Global Perspective: Resistance, Resilience, Reimagination - will assemble experts from around the globe to speak to the power and agency of LGBTQ youth and their stories. Experts in education, the arts, human rights policy, and healthcare will convene on campus for a one-day academic symposium. As part celebration of youth identity, and part opportunity to build global strategy around supporting and building healthy and culturally sustaining environments for youth, this global forum will create a space for analysis, for community, and for hope and joy for LGBTQ youth and their advocates around the world.

The Forum will kick off with an academic symposium on Friday that is free and open to the public. Please register for the Friday symposium sessions below. Activities on Friday also include the 2023 Joel Barkan Memorial Lecture by Daniel Arzola, senior graphic designer at the University of Minnesota, and a 'pay what you can' documentary film screening at FilmScene.

On Saturday, United Action for Youth (UAY) is hosting PrideCon, an annual, free day of programming for youth. For more information on this event, please contact UAY directly.

All events held in the International Commons, University Capitol Centre room 1117 unless otherwise noted. Schedule subject to change.


9:00 – 9:05 a.m.Welcoming Remarks

Opening Remarks

  • Russ Ganim, associate provost and dean, International Programs
  • Amanda Thein, associate provost for graduate and professional education and dean, UI Graduate College
  • Will Coghill-Behrends, co-director of the Linda R. Baker Teacher Leader Center and clincial associate professor, UI College of Education
UCC 1117
9:05 – 10:00 a.m.Session #1

Human Rights and Counseling Psychology

Asia and USA
  • Dr. Makiko Kasai, Naruto University of Education
    “LGBTQ+ issues among youth in Japan and Asia”
  • Dr. Jacob Priest, University of Iowa
    “The kids are alright: The joy and resilience of trans youth of Iowa”
    As a therapist working for the past decade with trans and genderqueer youth, I seen a lot of pain. In our state, trans folks and especially kids are the target of harmful legislation, policies, and fearmongering. And while this is a difficult time for trans youth, there are patterns that I can't ignore. More and more, trans youth report support and love from parents, grandparents, and friends; more and more, trans youth discuss their pride in their identities; more and more, trans youth talk to me about getting involved and raising their voice to make Iowa a better place. The resilience and joy that trans youth express and be a powerful tool in the fight against harmful policies and legislature. Using examples from research and my own clinical work, I will provide tools that educators, psychotherapists, and other adults can reflect and amplify trans youth joy and resilience to change the narrative around trans youth and ultimately create a better state.
UCC 1117
10:00 – 10:15 a.m.Break  
10:15 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

Session #2

Youth Studies LGBTQ & Language

Scandinavia, Ireland, and Australia

  • Dr. Øystein Skundburg, Oslo Met University
    “Norwegian LGBTQ Youth: Individual resources for agency and Organizational Efforts for Awareness and Knowledge”
  • Dr. Bjørn Smestad, Oslo Met University
    “LGBTQ representation in curricula and textbooks: making various perspectives visible”

    Representation of diverse people in curricula is important – both as a mirror (to see oneself) and as a window (to see others). While research on LGBTQ representation in textbooks worldwide is often a story of ignoring and avoiding the topic, the situation in the Nordic countries Norway, Sweden and Finland is different. In these countries, it has become a norm that LGBTQ issues should be included, and research has been able to give a critical view of how it is included, instead of just that it is not.

  • Dr. Julie Sinclair Palm, Carleton University
    “Finding Joy in Resistance: Trans Youths’ Stories about Choosing a Name”

    Recently, young trans people have become the centre of a number of legal and political battles in the U.S. and Canada. Anti-trans legislation has been passed in a number of US states and Canadian provinces, limiting the rights of trans youth and restricting how educators provide support and care for their trans students. In this talk, I explore how young trans people tell stories about their resistance to this oppression, highlight their creative strategies for navigating cisnormativity, and center the joy trans youth experience in reimagining and reshaping their worlds. Drawing on interviews with trans youth in Australia, Ireland and Canada, I explore how trans youths’ stories about choosing a name offer insight into the ways they express their desire for intelligibility and safety, while simultaneously navigating gender norms and a new sense of identity. By listening to the stories trans youth tell about their naming processes, educators, policy makers and researchers can better comprehend the supports trans youth may need, while centering the voices of trans youth and opening up space for more complex understandings of trans lives.

UCC 1117
12:00 – 12:45 p.m.Break  
12:45 – 2:00 p.m.

Session #3



  • Melanie Nathan, African Human Rights Coalition
    “The Plight of Queer in the Great African Paradox”

    There is a surge of what some may term ‘homophobia’ across Africa, emanating through enhanced onerous anti-LGBTQI+ legislation, licensing a heightened climate of persecution and violence. This is leading to a displacement cycle with few solutions for protection and freedom for Africa’s LGBTQI+ people and communities. Some Africans find their way to the United States of America through extreme hurdles, others are languishing in refugee camps in hostile host countries. In seeking change for long term solutions it is imperative to understand the discourse, which serves a perplexing paradox. As human rights defenders providing protection is paramount and so we must understand the options and participate in creative innovative pathways. The workshop will be led with a talk by Melanie Nathan who will pose questions to KingCyborg and Cere8ro, musicians who sought asylum in the USA from Angola. Bring your minds to this workshop where the audience will have time to ask questions and weigh in, to advance this quest for collaboration.

  • Cheyenne Adriano
    “The Challenges of Being a Black Lesbian Asylum Seeker in the Bay Area”
    Chey talks about the challenges of settling in the Bay Area as an asylum seeker, being deprived of the ability to make her own decisions and to control her own life, and the constant anxiety of immigration authorities looming over every decision. 
  • Mari N’Timansieme
    “The Challenges of Growing Up as a Lesbian in Africa”
    Mari shares her traumatic experience growing up as a lesbian girl in the African country of Angola. She discusses the hate, physical, verbal, and emotional abuse she endured for being different from what is considered the norm.
UCC 1117
2:00 – 2:10 p.m.Break  
2:10 – 3:20 p.m.

Session #4

Art and Graphic Novels

UK and Global

  • Dr. Corey Creekmur, University of Iowa
    “Who’s Afraid of Queer Kids and Comics?  Comics Censorship, the Sequel”

    This illustrated presentation will link current attempts to ban or censor comics with queer content (especially those focused on or created for younger readers)  to earlier, historical attempts to regulate comics. Unlike earlier examples of book censorship, often focused on “objectionable” language, the images of comics appear to generate specific anxieties, resulting in some cases where only the comics adaptations of prose texts have been threatened.  While this overview will provide arguments opposing or questioning the justification and results of such efforts, it will seek to frame current debates historically, hoping that we may learn from past mistakes.

  • Kate Heffner, University of Kent
    “Queer Futurists in Print: Global Zines as a Site of LGBTQ+ World Building”

    For decades, LGBTQ+ folks have used pen and paper to radically publish their stories of joy and resistance in zines (little magazines).  In this session, we will learn about zines and get a chance to make our own. Join us for this hands-on workshop where we will make our own zine or mini-comic about our stories, our lives, and ourselves. You don't have to be an accomplished writer or artist to make a zine, you just need to bring your enthusiasm and joy to this session to create and publish!

UCC 1117
3:20 – 3:30 p.m.Break  
3:30 – 4:30 p.m.Keynote

The Joel Barkan Memorial Lecture is an annual lecture given as a part of the Provost's Global Forum.

  • Daniel Arzola, University of Minnesota
    “Artivism by Daniel Arzola: Art, Communication, and Identity”

    Daniel Arzola's lecture will explore the story of how an art student ended up creating the first LGBTQ+ campaign to appear in the media in Venezuela. The #NoSoyTuChiste (#ImNotaJoke) campaign went viral between 2013 and 2014 and has been exhibited in different cities worldwide. Since its creation, it has continued to be displayed in public places, including bus stops, subway stations, galleries, museums, and parks. Daniel Arzola's narrative is a queer testimony about Venezuela during the Chavista dictatorship, but it is also the voice of art as a response to a systematically violent environment. The lecture addresses the role of art within its dynamics to communicate and the democratization of art in the face of repressive societies.

UCC 1117
4:30 - 7 p.m.Break  
7:00 - 9:00 p.m.Film

Film Screening of Lotus Sports Club

  • Filmed in Cambodia over the course of 5 years, Lotus Sports Club is an inspiring coming-of-age story that centres around Leak, a teenage trans man who plays football in the under-21s women’s team of Kampong Chhnang, and Pa Vann, the coach and father figure to Leak and other LGBTQ+ players on the team.

This is a ticketed event. Please reserve your seat at the screening using the link below. Tickets are "pay what you can" meaning if you are unable to pay, that's fine; we still want you to join!

Get your tickets here!


Bjørn Smestad is a professor of mathematics education at Oslo Metropolitan University in Oslo, Norway. He has worked in teacher education for 25 years and has regularly been teaching on LGBT issues. He is currently in charge of the masters program in mathematics education at OsloMet, where issues of identity and social justice are stressed. In 2015, he was one of the organizers of a European Pestalozzi workshop on inclusive sexuality education, with teachers from 15 European countries. He has published research on diversity in mathematics education and in education in general, for instance on the LGBT issues in Norwegian Textbooks.

Corey K. Creekmur is an associate professor at the University of Iowa in the Departments of Cinematic Arts; English; and Gender, Women’s & Sexuality Studies. His teaching and research focus on representations of gender and sexuality in popular culture, especially in American and Hindi cinema and in comics. He was recently president of (and was a founding member of) the Comics Studies Society, and last year co-organized a year-long Mellon Sawyer Seminar on Racial Reckoning Through Comics with support from the Obermann Center for Advanced Studies. He is also the editor of the Comics Culture book series from Rutgers University Press.

Daniel Arzola (he/they) is a Venezuelan artist and LGBTQ+ activist, renowned for his "Artivism," using art to address human rights, diversity, and equality. His project "No Soy Tu Chiste" gained global recognition and went viral during 2013-2014 for challenging stereotypes against the LGBTQ+ community. Madonna noticed and featured Arzola's work in her Art for Freedom project in 2013. Arzola's art is exhibited worldwide, and he has a permanent display at the Carlos Jáuregui station on the Buenos Aires Subway, the first LGBTQ+ subway station in Latin America. Beyond art, Arzola actively promotes his theory of "Artivism" through conferences and workshops at universities in Venezuela, Mexico, the United States, and Canada. His colorful and bold style has made him a prominent figure in LGBTQ+ film festivals globally since 2015, designing posters for festivals in the Netherlands, Chile, Uruguay, Albania, Kosovo, and the Faroe Islands. In 2017, Arzola was awarded a Trailblazer Honors Award from Logo Tv and VH1. Currently residing in Minneapolis, he serves as a senior graphic designer for the University of Minnesota.

Jacob Priest

Julia Sinclair-Palm (she/they) is an associate professor in childhood and youth studies in the Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies at Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada. They completed their doctorate in education in the Faculty of Education at York University. She has an MA in sexuality studies from San Francisco State University and a BS in psychology. Her research with young people carries the trace of this interdisciplinary history—across their work, they consider how conceptualizations of children and youth are tied to concerns about violence, risk, and mental health often at the exclusion of other, more complex narratives of identity, gender, and belonging. She examines how young people forge new identities, imagine futures and navigate structural inequalities in the midst of these larger, and sometimes restrictive narratives about childhood and youth. Their work has been published in the Journal of LGBT Youth, the Journal of Canadian Studies, and the International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education. They also co-edited (with Jen Gilbert) a special of Sex Education on “Trans Youth in Education” that was published as a book by Routledge.

Kathryn Heffner is a post-graduate researcher at the University of Kent completing her dissertation on feminist fan cultures in the post-war era. Her research examines the history of gender and sexuality, participatory cultures, and science and technology studies. She is the winner of the 2022 Peter Nicholls Prize for Best Essay in Science Fiction Studies and a former judge for the Arthur C. Clarke Award.

Øystein Skundberg (b. 1969) is an associate professor of pedagogy at Oslo Metropolitan University in Oslo, Norway. He has worked as a teacher in Norwegian preschool, primary and secondary school, and in the Faculty of Teacher education since 2014. He is in charge of the course in special education as a part of the masters program, and teaches a range of subjects related to school and preschool at all levels of teacher education. Skundberg has lectured, researched and published on topics such as children’s sexuality, children’s gender identity, LGBTQ issues, gender theory, sexuality education, child rearing, inclusion and diversity and historical conceptions of sexuality. His research interests focus on how cultural, societal and historical factors influence and shape ideas about gender norms, normality, sexuality and identity. Among his publications are studies on gender roles and sexuality in historical texts, conceptions of age-appropriate sexual behavior in preschool children, the theoretical understanding of play in educational literature, the historical uses of punishment and discipline in schools, and categorization of people with intellectual disability.

Makiko Kasai (she/her) works at the Naruto University of Education in Tokushima, Japan as a professor and the director of Student Guidance and Support Center. She graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a PhD. Her research interests include counseling and clinical psychology with psychoanalytic self psychology orientation and practice of gender and sexual minorities. As well as cyberbullying, sexuality education, and LGBTQ+ friendly counselor training. She serves as the executive director of the Japanese Society of Clinical Psychology and as a national delegate to the Japanese Society of Clinical Psychologists. Makiko recently published a book in English titled, SOGI Minority and School Life in Asian Contexts.

Melanie Nathan (she/her) practiced law in South Africa before immigrating to the United States. Renowned for her human rights advocacy, she consults and speaks globally on human rights, LGBTQI equality and issues impacting LGBTQI asylum seekers and refugees. She is the executive director of the African Human Rights Coalition, the only LGBTQI+ immigrant and refugee led organization dedicated to advocacy and humanitarian services, for LGBTQI+ Africans in forced displacement. She is a country conditions expert witness, providing testimony in the U.S. and global courts for LGBTQI asylum seekers from 20 different African countries. Nathan publishes a popular advocacy BLOG, O-Blog-Dee-O-Blog-DA, winning the National Lesbian and Gay Journalist Association Award for Excellence in Blogging in 2019.  Her career highlights include a last-minute stay of execution in a death sentence case in South Africa, the introduction by Senator Dianne Feinstein of a Private Bill into the United States Congress on behalf of a binational same-sex partner about to be deported, and testimony for U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee in support of the Uniting American Families Act (2009). Melanie led a thematic working table for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Geneva (UNHCR) at the 2021 UNHCR-UN IE SOGI Global Roundtable on Protection and Solutions for LGBTQI+ People in Forced Displacement. She presented the conclusions for all thematic workshops at the Closing Plenary. She was the closing keynote speaker for World Pride Summit on Refugees in Malmö, Sweden, 2021. She also presented on San Francisco Pride Main-stage 2022, orchestrating, and introducing the historic Pride greeting from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Dr. Filippo Grandi. She is a former Marin County Human Rights Commissioner and past Vice President on San Francisco Pride Board. She is the recipient of several awards and honors. Nathan lives with her partner in Philadelphia and is the mom of two daughters.

Parking – The Capitol Street parking ramp is located at 220 S. Capitol Street, with entrances on both Capitol Street and Clinton Street. Parking is $1/hour and the first hour is free. The parking ramp is connected to the University Capitol Centre.

University Capitol Centre location – The University Capitol Centre (UCC) sits on the corner of Burlington and Clinton Streets and is connected to the Capitol Street parking ramp. Linked is a map of campus.

Bus Service – The University Capitol Centre is located adjacent to the Downtown Interchange bus stop. A number of University of Iowa (CAMBUS) and city buses frequent this location.

International Commons - room 1117 – The International Commons is located in the northwest corner of the UCC. The address is:

201 S. Clinton Street
1111 University Capitol Centre (UCC)
Iowa City, Iowa 52240

From the parking ramp, you will walk to the far end (the north end) of the building. A convenient ‘marker’ on your way to the IP Office is the coffee shop called T Spoons near the escalator. Once you pass T Spoons, look to your left to see the glass doors labeled INTERNATIONAL PROGRAMS. Go through the two sets of doors and the International Commons, room 1117 is on your left. Linked is a map of the UCC building.

Visiting from out of town? Below are some highlights for places to eat, things to do, and hotel options close by. If you are a presenter, refer to your event contact for details on what meals are provided and what hotel you are staying in.

Places to Eat
For places to eat located inside the University Capitol Centre, visit the Old Capitol Town Center's directory.

For places to eat in downtown Iowa City, visit the Iowa City Downtown District food and drink guide.

For more options, visit Think Iowa City's restaurant guide.

The Iowa House Hotel is conveniently located on the University of Iowa Campus inside the Iowa Memorial Union, overlooking the Iowa River.

For hotels within walking distance of the University Capitol Centre (UCC), visit the Iowa City Downtown District hotel guide.

For more options, visit Think Iowa City's hotel guide.

Shops located within walking distance of campus can be found on the Iowa City Downtown District shopping guide.

Located 5 miles from campus is the Coral Ridge Mall.

Things to Do
Looking for events and activities happening in the area? Visit the Think Iowa City visitor guide.

Organizers & recipients of Provost's Global Forum Award

William Coghill-Behrends

Will Coghill-Behrends

Will Coghill-Behrends is the co-director of the Linda R. Baker Teacher Leader Center, where his focus is on expanding global education initiatives within the entire UI College of Education, and is clinical associate professor in multilingual education.

Josh Coleman headshot

Josh Coleman

James Joshua Coleman (Josh) is an assistant professor of English education in the University of Iowa’s College of Education. Broadly, his scholarship advocates for the use of intersectional LGBTQ+ youth literature within contexts of teaching and learning. His current project seeks to document the rapid increase in book bans across the U.S., and this project is funded by the National Academy of Education through a Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship. Entitled “Banned Childhoods,” this study traces how regional contexts shape book bans of LGBTQ+ and BIPOC youth literature and documents the bottom-up educational activism resisting those bans. Selected publications can be found in Teachers College Record, Teaching and Teacher Education, and Reading Research Quarterly. Josh was formerly a high school English teacher in the Deep South, where he is from, and in Paris, France, where he served as a Fulbright Scholar.

Allison Rowe headshot.png

Allison Rowe

Allison V. Rowe, MFA, PhD, joined the University of Iowa in 2021 and is currently an assistant professor of art education and the program coordinator for the art education program. Rowe has taught art and art education for over 15 years in formal and community organizations including Centennial College, Youth Arts Exchange, the Dovercourt Boys & Girls Club, and the Aga Khan Museum. Rowe earned her PhD from the University of Illinois in art education at Urbana Champaign in 2021and her MFA in social practice from California College of the Arts in 2011. She is a practicing socially engaged artist and has shown her work across the United States and Canada at spaces such as the Powerplant Contemporary Art Gallery in Toronto, Ontario; Outhaus in Urbana, Illinois; NURTUREart in Brooklyn, New York; and La Centrale in Montreal. Quebec. Rowe’s most recent research project on gallery-supported socially engaged art was supported by the Social Sciences Humanities Research Council of Canada. Her research interests include community engaged art education, arts-based research, socially engaged art, and art integration.

About the Provost's Global Forum

Through the generous support of the Stanley-UI Foundation Support Organization, the Provost’s Global Forum is the premier annual event on campus focused on international and global issues. The forum brings together experts from the faculty and leading voices from a variety of areas to raise awareness about and contribute to debate on the foremost issues in globalization that face us today.

In addition to serving the University of Iowa community broadly, the forum endeavors to build connections between the University and the state of Iowa, and positions the UI as a national node in discussions of global affairs.

All events are free and open to the public.

International Programs Monthly Newsletter

Stay current on events like this forum and others offered throughout the year.

Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all University of Iowa sponsored events. If you are a person with a disability who requires a reasonable accommodation in order to participate in this program, please contact Daniel Vorwerk in advance by email at or call 319-467-1619.