Leading expert on Afghanistan will be visiting scholar here starting Oct. 6
One of the nation’s foremost experts on Afghanistan will spend a week in the Twin Cities this fall as the second visiting scholar in a program that evolved from the Václav Havel Civil Society Symposium.
Dr. Thomas Gouttierre, dean of international studies and director of the Center for Afghanistan Studies at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, will begin his visit on Oct. 6.
The Václav Havel Civil Society Symposium was established in 1999 to encourage discussion on the rights and responsibilities of citizens. The biennial symposium brought to Minnesota noted speakers that included former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Havel, who was the last president of Czechoslovakia and the first president of the Czech Republic.
Under the new program, prominent scholars and leaders visit Minnesota for more extended periods. Martin Palouš, the Czech Republic’s ambassador to the United Nations, visited the Twin Cities for a week last fall under the program.
The visiting scholar program is a partnership of the University of St. Thomas and the House of Hope Presbyterian Church in cooperation with the Minnesota Czech community. During his visit, Gouttierre will speak at the House of Hope, meet with reporters, and participate in a host of classes, seminars and programs at St. Thomas.
Gouttierre was raised in Maumee, Ohio, where he received his master baking certificate while working in his father’s pastry shop. His four honorary doctorates include one from his undergraduate alma mater, Bowling Green State University.
He was named director of the Center for Afghanistan Studies at the University of Nebraska in 1974 after living and working in Afghanistan for 10 years. While there he served as a Peace Corps volunteer, a Fulbright Fellow, and executive director of the Fulbright Foundation. He also coached the Afghanistan national basketball team.
He speaks and writes Afghan Persian, Iranian Persian and Tajikistani Persian, and also has studied Arabic, French, German, Latin, Russian and Spanish. He was the project director of the development of the Dari-English Dictionary, and his publications include many articles on Afghanistan culture and a two-volume language textbook, “Dari for Foreigners.”
Gouttierre has testified on a range of topics related to Afghanistan before U.S. House and Senate committees, as well as committees of the British Parliament, the French National Assembly, the Norwegian Storting and the United Nations. He served as the senior political affairs officer on the United Nations Peacekeeping Mission to Afghanistan in 1996 and 1997. Since 1986 he has served on the U.S.-Russian Task Force on Regional Conflicts, and is a board member of the International Institute for Sustained Dialogue.
At House of Hope, 797 Summit Ave., he will speak at both the 9 and 11 a.m. services, and will participate in a 10 a.m. question-and-answer session, on Sunday, Oct. 7. He also will speak at a House of Hope adult education class from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 10. The public is welcome to attend all events.
He will participate in these six events at St. Thomas. All are free and open to the public.
- The documentary film, “Enemies of Happiness,” will be shown from 3:30 to 5 p.m. Monday, Oct. 8, in the 3M Auditorium of Owens Science Hall on the university’s St. Paul campus. Following the film, Dr. Angela High-Pippert, director of the Women’s Studies at St. Thomas, will moderate a discussion. The film, which won the World Cinema Jury Prize in Documentaries at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival, follows the successful campaign of Malalai Joya, a 28-year-old Afghan woman who ran in the country’s first democratic parliamentary elections in 35 years. The film and discussion are co-sponsored by the Women’s Studies Program and the Luann Dummer Center for Women.
- Gouttierre will give a lecture and lead a discussion on “The War on Terrorism in Afghanistan” from noon to 1 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 9, in 3M Auditorium of Owens Science Hall on the university’s St. Paul campus. The lecture is co-sponsored by St. Thomas’ Air Force ROTC, Justice and Peace Studies, Political Science and History departments.
- The film, “Osama,” will be shown at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 9, in the auditorium of O’Shaughnessy Educational Center on the St. Paul campus. The film will be followed by a discussion and reception. Dr. Pamela Nice, documentary filmmaker and adviser for the Middle Eastern Studies Program, and Dr. Corrine Carvalho, director of the Luann Dummer Center for Women, will lead the discussion. The 2003 “Osama” was made in Kabul, Afghanistan, and tells the story of a 12-year-old girl who disguises herself as a boy to help support her family. “Osama” won awards at film festivals throughout the world. The film and discussion are sponsored by the Middle Eastern Studies Program.
- Gouttierre will give a talk and lead a discussion on the legal and education systems in Afghanistan from 2:30 to 4 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 10, in the Thornton Auditorium in Terrence Murphy Hall on the university's downtown Minneapolis campus. This talk is co-sponsored by St. Thomas' School of Law and School of Education.
- Gouttierre will discuss the Peace Corps and international development issues from noon to 1 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 11, in Room 100, McNeely Hall, on the university’s St. Paul campus. This program is co-sponsored by St. Thomas’ Economics and International Studies departments.
- Gouttierre will give a public lecture on “Understanding the Sectarian Divide in Islam” from 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 11, in the auditorium of O’Shaughnessy Educational Center on the St. Paul campus. The lecture will be followed by a discussion with Dr. Adil Ozdemir and Dr. Terry Nichols of the St. Thomas Theology Department, and Sheik Odeh Muhawesh, president the Imam Hussein Center in Brooklyn Center. The event is co-sponsored by St. Thomas’ Theology Department and Muslim-Christian Dialogue Center.
For general information about Gouttierre’s visit to St. Thomas, call the Executive Adviser to the President’s Office, (651) 962-6030.