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Academics, diplomats to debate peace and security in Eurasia

| Judy Berthiaume

Academics and diplomats from the United States and Europe will gather this week at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire to debate how peace and security can best be achieved in Eurasia — a region that includes Europe and Asia — and what policies the U.S. should adopt to promote those actions.

The Lazda Symposium on Global Issues will host the two-day event, titled “U.S. Foreign Policy and the Future of Eurasian Security.”

The symposium, which is free and open to the public, will include a series of discussions Friday and Saturday, May 5-6, in Hibbard Hall and Schneider Hall on UW-Eau Claire’s lower campus.

“The Eurasian region is going through some of the greatest challenges to its security since the end of the Cold War,” said Dr. Stephen Hill, professor of political science at UW-Eau Claire and chair of the symposium. “In recent years, Russia has annexed Crimea from Ukraine and intervened militarily in Syria.

“As a consequence, many of the former communist states in Central Asia and Eastern Europe fear a renewed Russian imperialism. At the same time, the UK has voted to leave the EU and NATO’s European members sense a weakening in the American commitment to their collective defense.”

The recent referendum in Turkey, and the current elections in France, also may be harbingers of nationalist and authoritarian tendencies not seen in the region for decades, Hill said.

The symposium will seek to explain these events and debate how the U.S. should respond to them, Hill said.

“We have brought together some of the brightest minds in academia and statecraft from Europe and the U.S. to explain and debate these questions,” Hill said.

Jack Matlock Jr., the U.S. ambassador to the Soviet Union during the Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations, will give the keynote address on May 5. His keynote will focus on U.S. foreign policy and how its policy can help or hinder Eurasian security.

On May 6, the symposium will include a discussion of British, Russian and Turkish security policies. Three internationally renowned academics will provide German and East European perspectives on the debate, Hill said.

The symposium is named for Drs. Paulis and Irene Lazda, retired UW-Eau Claire faculty members who worked for 30 years to organize and host 14 East European symposiums.

“The new Lazda Symposium series celebrates their contributions and continues their tradition of bringing the world to our students to debate the most pressing issues in global security and U.S. foreign policy,” Hill says. “We hope in the future to encourage interdisciplinary symposiums in any issue of global concern, such as water scarcity, food insecurity, climate change and global health, as well as the more traditional questions of military and political security.”

The May 5-6 Lazda Symposium on Global Issues’ schedule follows:

May 5, Room 100, Hibbard Hall

  • 7-7:15 p.m. — Opening remarks by Dr. Stephen Hill, professor of political science and symposium chair. Welcoming address by James Schmidt, Chancellor of UW-Eau Claire.
  • 7:15-8 p.m. — Keynote address titled “U.S. foreign policy and the future of Eurasian security,” by Ambassador Jack Matlock Jr., Rubenstein Fellow, Duke University.
  • 8-8:30 p.m. — Discussion led by Dr. Yoshiko Herrera, professor of political science at UW-Madison.
  • 8:45-10 p.m. — Reception for speakers and audience.

May 6, Room 100, Schneider Hall

  • 10:15-11:45 a.m. — Presentations and discussion, titled “The future of Eurasian security: the U.K., Turkey, Russia, NATO and EU,” led by Dr. David H. Dunn, professor of politics and international studies at University of Birmingham in the U.K.; Dr. Yoshiko Herrera, professor of political science at UW-Madison; and Dr. Mert Kartal, assistant professor of political science at UW-Stevens Point.
  • 1:15-2 p.m. — Presentation and discussion, titled “The Future of Eurasian security: East Europe, NATO and Russia,” led by Maciej Kozlowski, former Charge d’Affairs of Poland to Washington, D.C.
  • 2-2:45 p.m. — Presentation and discussion, titled “Germany’s role in Transatlantic security relations,” led by Christian Heusermann, chief of staff to the German ambassador in Washington, D.C.
  • 3-4 p.m. — Panel discussion including Dunn, Herrera, Heusermann, Kartal, Kozlowski and Matlock. Dr. Stephen Hill will moderate; questions will be taken from the audience.

For more information about the event, contact Dr. Stephen Hill at 715-836-2092 or

UW-Eau Claire’s Council for Internationalization and Global Engagement and the Friends of the Symposium will fund the event.