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University of Iowa News Release

March 25, 2005

Crossing Boarders Convocation Focuses On Globalization, Cosmopolitanism

Globalization and its effects on cross-cultural understanding and tension will be the focus of the sixth annual University of Iowa Crossing Borders Convocation April 1 to 3. The convocation is free and open to the public and will feature distinguished visiting speakers as well as panel discussions by Crossing Borders fellows and UI faculty.

The theme, "Globalization and Cosmopolitanism: Tensions, Expressions and Resolutions," is "certainly relevant to the present world, threatened by growing economic imbalances, wars and ecological problems," said Alessandra Madella, a Crossing Borders fellow in communication studies and one of the student organizers for the conference.

The opening reception will be in the Main UI Library foyer with a welcome and a convocation overview, followed by a film screening in Shambaugh Auditorium. The film will be "Local Angel," a documentary account of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict by director Udi Aloni. Saturday and Sunday events will be in the Lasansky Room in the UI Museum of Art, where speakers will discuss cosmopolitanism in relation to globalization.

"Globalization means, roughly speaking, the way the world now works, while cosmopolitanism means, just as roughly, the way idealists would like to see the world work," said Paul Greenough, Crossing Borders Program director, UI history professor in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS) and an affiliated IP faculty member.

The Crossing Borders Program was created seven years ago in response to the scholarly challenges brought on by globalization and has been holding convocations since 1998. The annual convocation serves as a commons for the presentation of research by UI faculty and graduate students, as well as invited lecturers. The event is planned in large part by graduate students.

Interaction within the global community has increased rapidly due to technology, economics, popular culture and politics. The Crossing Borders Program examines "how people and ideas get transferred across borders," said Zana Friganovic, a Crossing Borders graduate assistant, "and how an idea is localized in a certain society once it has crossed those borders."

Gautam Ghosh from the University of Pennsylvania will present a paper on Saturday entitled, "GODSPEED! Equality Re-Calculated in the Global Hindu Avant-Garde." Robert Blecher, an UI Obermann Center Fellow and a professor of history at the University of Richmond, Virginia, will be the guest speaker on Sunday.

Topics for each panel include: "Latin American Facing Cosmopolitan Challenges"; "Centrifugal and Centripetal Communities of South Asia"; "Forming Global Communities of Reception; and "Colonial Cosmopolitanism and Expressive Media."

The tension that occurs through globalization is apparent and "is itself an important focus of research, but such studies will never of themselves resolve or relieve it," said Greenough. "Instead, the hope for unity of mankind, wherein we all become global citizens, will come into clear and steady consciousness only through the practice of diversity, not through simple coexistence."

The Crossing Borders Program is jointly funded by a federal grant from the U.S. Department of Education and by UI International Programs. The convocation is sponsored by the following: the UI Crossing Borders Program; College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; International Programs; the UI Graduate College; the Institute for Cinema and Culture; and funds from the U.S. Department of Education National Resource Center (NRC) in International Studies.

For more information and a complete schedule of events, visit the Crossing Borders Convocation website at or contact Leslie Winter at International Programs, 319-335-3862. Those who need special accommodations to attend this convocation can contact Winter as well.

Crossing Borders is affiliated with UI International Programs, which consists of a number of offices, centers, degree programs, academic programs, research projects and services. Organized under the associate provost and dean for International Programs, these units serve to further internationalize the campus and community and to promote global scholarship, research and teaching.

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

CONTACTS: Media: Lois Gray, 319-335-2026,; Program: Leslie Winter, 319-335-3862,; Writer: Diana Brace