International Lecture Series


In addition to the Royal D. Alworth, Jr. Memorial Lecture, forums and conferences, the Institute provides a series of international lectures by local, national and international authorities on subjects of timely interest. The Alworth Institute draws not only upon the rich store of local academics with expertise in a variety of areas, but also visiting international faculty.

Fall 2023 Lectures

U.S. Foreign Policy Update and a New Playbook for the American Economy

Tuesday, November 7 – 7:00 pm – KAM Library 4th Floor Rotunda 

Headshot of Thomas Hanson

Presented by Thomas Hanson, former US Foreign Service Officer and the Alworth Institute Diplomat in Residence

Hanson will speak on the challenges and successes of US Foreign Policy under the Biden administration, and what he sees as successes and failures. How strong are US alliances around the world and can the US hold these together given increasing policy changes? He will also examine the American economy in light of post-COVID realities and competition with China.  

When with the U.S. Department of State, Thomas Hanson's foreign postings included East Germany, France, Norway, the Soviet Union, Sweden, and Georgia. He also assisted in opening new embassies in Mongolia and Estonia. Hanson has also worked on the Foreign Relations Committees of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. He was Director for NATO and European Affairs at the Atlantic Council of the United States in Washington, D.C. He serves on the St. Paul-Minneapolis Committee on Foreign Relations and as a lecturer/consultant for Global Minnesota. He is an occasional foreign affairs commentator on Minnesota Public Radio and serves on the boards of the Minneapolis chapter of the Oslo Center for Peace. Hanson graduated from the University of Minnesota with a B.A. in International Relations. He holds graduate degrees from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University; the Geneva Institute of Advanced International Studies in Switzerland; and the National School of Administration (ENA) in Paris, France. He has served as the Alworth Institute's Diplomat in Residence since the fall of 2009.


Earlier Lectures (Fall 2023)

New Economic Statecraft: China, the United States and the European Union

Wednesday, September 20 – 7:00 pm – KAM Library 4th Floor Rotunda 

Dr. Zhang Xiaotong in blue shirt

Presented by Dr. Zhang Xiaotong, Visiting scholar, Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), and Professor, Institute of Belt and Road Initiative & Global Governance, Fudan University, Shanghai, China 

Dr. Zhang will provide insights on the art of governing a state and managing its external relations from a wealth to power logic. He looks at this "economic statecraft" as consisting of wealth production, wealth mobilization, and wealth-power conversion by a state. He will examine the history of Western powers practicing economic statecraft and will present three case studies, the United States, the European Union, and China, the three biggest users of economic statecraft in the contemporary world.

Dr. Zhang has been a full professor at Fudan University since 2020. From 2022 to 2023, he was the Managing Editor of Transnational Corporations Review (TNCR), an interdisciplinary journal that focuses on the economic analysis of transnational corporations (TNCs). He previously was a full professor of the School of Political Science and Public Administration at Wuhan University in Wuhan, Habei, where he served as Vice Dean of Wuhan University Institute for International Studies. He served as the Executive Director of both Wuhan University's University of West Indies Centre for Caribbean Studies and Research Centre for Economic Diplomacy. IN the early 2000's he was an official for the Chinese Ministry of Commerce and a  Trade Attaché for the Chinese Mission to the European Union. His research covers globalization, US-EU Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership Agreement (TTIP), EU-China bilateral investment treaty, and US-China trade relations. His recent book, with the same title as his lecture, is an open access book and can be read online at Among many other publications, in 2023 he released Linkage Power Europe: The EU’s Trade Negotiations with China (1975-2019). He is currently researching and writing on economic diplomacy. 


What Is the Israel Lobby and What Does it Do?

Tuesday, October 10 – 7:00 pm – Montague Hall 80 

Half profile image of white man in white shirt

Presented by Dr. Walter L. Hixson, historian and commentator, and former distinguished professor, University of Akron

Dr. Hixson will provide an explanation of and historical analysis of the Israeli lobby in the US which he argues is the the largest, most well-funded and influential lobby acting on behalf of a foreign country in American history. His analysis stems from his work positing the connection of the two countries based on their characterization as "settler colonial nations". This has created a special relationship between Israel and the US which has bolstered Israeli policies toward Palestinians.

Dr. Hixson devoted four decades to academic life. He served as department chair at the University of Akron and as president of the American Association of University Professors chapter before retiring at the end of 2020. Since 2019 Hixson has been a columnist and contributing editor of the magazine, Washington Report on Middle East Affairs. Hixson received two Fulbright overseas teaching awards, most recently as distinguished chair at the China Foreign Affairs University in Beijing (2009). A generation earlier Hixson was the first Fulbright professor ever at Kazan State University in the former Soviet Union. Hixson wrote a memoir on the memorable experience, Witness to Disintegration: Provincial Life in the Last Year of the USSR, published in 1993 by the University Press of New England. 

For the past decade Hixson has focused much of his attention on the Middle East and especially the issue of Israel-Palestine. In 2021, he published a comprehensive history of the role of the Israel lobby in the Palestine conflict. The book,  Architects of Repression: How Israel and its Lobby Put Racism, Violence and Injustice at the Center of US Middle East Policy was the follow-up to a previous study entitled Israel’s Armor: The Israel Lobby and the First Generation of the Palestine Conflict (Cambridge University Press, 2019). This research flowed from his previous examination of settler colonialism. Like Israel, the United States is a settler colonial nation, argued and analyzed by Hixson in American Settler Colonialism: A History (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013). Hixson's other works include The Myth of American Diplomacy: National Identity and US Foreign Policy (Yale University Press, 2008), Parting the Curtain: Propaganda, Culture, and the Cold War, 1945-1961 (St. Martin’s Press, 1997) and George F. Kennan: Cold War Iconoclast (Columbia University Press, 1989), co-winner of the Bernath Prize awarded by the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations. Hixson also published a textbook, American Foreign Relations: A New Diplomatic History (Routledge, 2016).


War in Ukraine: from Everyday Challenges to Global Change 

Tuesday, October 17 – 7:00 pm – KAM Library 4th Floor Rotunda 
Head shot - White woman, shoulder length brown hair, black shirt

Presented by Iryna Drobovych (Bochar) – Humphrey School of Public Affairs 2023-2024 International Fellow, University of Minnesota, and Strategy Director of the Ukrainian Women’s Congress

War brings big change - to ordinary citizens, to soldiers, to the country and the world.  Drobovych will examine how the war has changed the daily lives of Ukrainians, their domestic and global policy, as well as the global political agenda.  She will share visuals of a photo exhibition she prepared with a Ukrainian photographer who is currently in the frontline serving in the Armed Forces of Ukraine. She will also share information on the number of women in security and defence, on the new approaches to the security policies, and on shifts in Ukrainian foreign policy as well ideas for rebuilding and reconstruction. 

Iryna Drobovych is a civil society leader and advocate for gender equality and democracy. In her role for the Ukrainian Women’s Congress, she collaborates with national and international partners on research and advocacy related to gender and public policy. She advocates for women’s rights and leadership in the context of Russia’s war on Ukraine. Previously, she served as a Government Relations Advisor with the Open Ukraine Foundation and as an Executive Assistant to the Prime Minister. She holds a BA in International Relations and an MA in International Strategies and Security. She wrote Policy Paper N°7 for Women without Borders where she reflected on the one-year anniversary of the Russian invasion in Ukraine and highlights the imperative role that women are playing, from joining the Armed Forces to leading humanitarian hubs, to advocating at the international level for support.