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University of Iowa News Release


Feb. 23, 2009

Convocation takes look at 'Europe in the World' Feb. 26-28

Europe's position in and influence on the world will be the focus of this year's University of Iowa Crossing Borders and European Studies Convocation. "Europe in the World: Identities, Networks, Challenges," will take place Thursday, Feb. 26 through Saturday, Feb. 28 in Room 1117 University Capitol Centre (UCC) in downtown Iowa City.

The convocation, co-sponsored and organized by the Crossing Borders Program and European Studies Group, is free and open to the public and will feature distinguished visiting speakers as well as panel discussions by Crossing Borders fellows and UI graduate students and faculty.

"The 21st century has been called 'The Pacific Century,' minimizing the influence of Europe," said Rex Honey, Crossing Borders director and professor of geography and international studies in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS). "Many of us question the assumed diminishing of European influence. We thought a focus on Europe's connections to the world would be worthwhile."

The convocation begins at 3:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 26 with a welcome by Honey and Michel Laronde, director of the European Studies Group and associate professor of French and Italian in CLAS. A keynote address by William Berentsen from the University of Connecticut, an expert on the influence of Germany across the world, and a panel discussion will follow.

Thursday evening's activities conclude with a lecture by Jean-Baptiste Main de Boissiere, the French Consul General in Chicago. Main de Boissiere will present "Europe on the Move, Strengths, Challenges and its Influence in the World" at 7 p.m.

"Jean-Baptiste Main de Boissiere's presentation may provide a counter-argument to the idea of Europe's diminishing influence," Laronde said.

Activities continue at 8:30 a.m. Friday, Feb. 27 in 1117 UCC with a series of paper presentations by UI faculty and graduate students covering Europe in relation to Africa and Asia. Friday's events will conclude with lectures by Larisa Honey of Queens College, the City University of New York, and George White of Frostburg State University. Honey will present "Russian identities as a response to global forces" at 4 p.m. White will present "Europe in the Pacific Century" at 6:30 p.m. A panel discussion by UI faculty and graduate students will follow.

The convocation concludes on Saturday with faculty and graduate student paper presentations focusing on identities within Europe. Saturday events begin at 8:30 a.m. in 1117 UCC. The papers from the entire convocation will be assembled into an e-book available on the International Programs' Web site at a later date.

For more information and a complete schedule of events visit or For special accommodations to attend the convocation, contact Heidi Vekemans at or 319-335-3862.

In addition to the convocation, Main de Boissiere will present "France and Europe: Perceptions and Relations with Obama's Administration of Change" at a noon luncheon of the Iowa City Foreign Relations Council on Thursday, Feb. 26. The luncheon will take place at Rockwood Fellowship Hall, Congregational Church, 30 N. Clinton Street, Iowa City. Reservations are required. For more information visit

The Crossing Borders Program was created 11 years ago in response to the scholarly challenges brought on by globalization. The annual convocation serves as a forum for the presentation of research by UI faculty and graduate students as well as invited lecturers.

The Crossing Borders Program and the European Studies Group are affiliated with UI International Programs, which enables UI students, faculty, staff and the public to learn from and about the world. Its offices, degree programs and events provide life-changing opportunities on campus and abroad, heighten intellectual and cultural diversity, and give all university constituents access to vital international knowledge. For more information visit or call 319-353-2700. International Programs is part of the UI Office of the Provost.

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

MEDIA CONTACTS: Rex Honey, 319-335-0154,; Michel Laronde, 319-335-2264,; Kelli Andresen, 319-335-2026,; Writer: Jodie Klein