Thursday, October 6, 2016

What defines a nation, or a state?  What’s the meaning of sovereignty, and how do communal or religious identity figure into demands for self-determination?  The world community in 2016 appears to be a fractured place with aspirations to statehood like those we’ve seen in South Sudan and Palestine, as well as civil disruptions and realignments like those between Crimea, Ukraine, and Russia.  Amidst all of this there are non-state actors like ISIS challenging sitting governments and established states. The 2016 Provost’s Global Forum, The Nation, the State, and the Global Redefinition of Self-Determination, will address these questions and more during a series of lectures and panel discussions on October 13-15.  A highlight of the forum will be the October 15 WorldCanvass, which will be held for the first time in Des Moines at the John and Mary Pappajohn Education Center, from 5-6:30 p.m.  The event is free and open to the public and begins with a reception at 4 p.m.

The goal of the Provost’s Global Forum, the premier annual event at the UI focused on international and global issues, is to build connections between the university and the state of Iowa, and to position the UI as a national node in discussions of global affairs.  To that end, Adrien Wing, Bessie Dutton Murray professor and associate dean for International and Comparative Law Programs at the College of Law, and Nathan Miller, assistant director of the UI Center for Human Rights and director of the International Legal Clinic at the College of Law, have organized a series of lectures, panel discussions, and exhibits to address and illustrate the structural challenges to the nation/state system and international law, the conflicts that can lead to civil war, and the human tragedy that lies behind so many thwarted dreams.

But hope and rebirth can emerge from dislocation and despair, and the question of “what comes next?” will be a central part of the forum’s focus.  Kosovo, once part of Serbia, declared its independence in 2008 and continues to seek recognition of its sovereignty.  A long and fruitful relationship between Kosovo and the State of Iowa began in 2003 when members of the Iowa National Guard were deployed in Kosovo, helping to stabilize the country after the conflict.  This very personal connection has resulted in an Iowa/Kosovo sister state relationship and the establishment of a Kosovo consulate in Des Moines.  

WorldCanvass guests will include Professor Nathan Miller from the UI College of Law; Kosovo Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Dr. Valon Murtezaj; Charles L. Smith III, chief judge, fourth judicial district of Iowa (retired), who is also the former president of the Assembly of Eulex Judges and a member of the Supreme Court of Kosovo; Ron McMullen, UI ambassador in residence; Lieutenant Colonel Mike Wunn; Kim Heidemann, executive director of Iowa Sister States; Matthew LeRiche, visiting assistant professor of political science, Memorial University; Mikulas Fabry, associate professor in the Sam Nunn School of International Affairs, Georgia Tech; and Jonathan Kuttub, a Palestinian Christian and human rights activist who co-founded the Palestinian Center for the Study of Nonviolence.

WorldCanvass: Nationhood Redefined

Part 1—5:00-5:25 p.m.

Nationhood, Statehood, Sovereignty, and Identity in a Changing World

  • Nathan Miller—director, International Legal Clinic, UI College of Law; assistant director, UI Center for Human Rights 
  • Matthew LeRiche—visiting assistant professor, Memorial University Department of Political Science
  • Charles L. Smith III—chief judge, fourth judicial district of Iowa (retired); former president, Assembly of Eulex Judges; member, Supreme Court of Kosovo

Part 2—5:30-5:55 p.m.

Kosovo and the Iowa Connection

  • Valon Murtezaj—deputy minister, Republic of Kosovo Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • Mike Wunn—lieutenant colonel, Iowa National Guard
  • Kim Heidemann—executive director, Iowa Sister States

Part 3—6:00-6:25 p.m.

The Evolving Definition of Self-Determination

  • Jonathan Kuttub—co-founder, Palestinian Center for the Study of Nonviolence
  • Ron McMullen—UI ambassador in residence
  • Mikulas Fabry—associate professor, Sam Nunn School of International Affairs, Georgia Tech 

WorldCanvass is produced by UI International Programs and takes place monthly in Iowa City at the UI's Voxman Music Building.  The October 15 program will be produced at the John and Mary Pappajohn Education Center, 1200 Grand Avenue, Des Moines, Iowa. The public is invited to attend the taping, and to enjoy the special pre-show reception from 4-5 p.m. 

WorldCanvass is recorded before a live audience for later broadcast on YouTube, iTunes, and the Public Radio Exchange. Free podcasts can be downloaded from iTunes and past programs are available through IP’s website.

WorldCanvass is a production of UI International Programs in collaboration with the UI School of Music and the UI Office of Strategic Communication. For more information on WorldCanvass, contact Joan Kjaer ( or visit the WorldCanvass web page.

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 Amy Green in advance at or 319-335-1433.