International Lecture Series

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.

Spring 2021 Schedule 

Tuesday, March 30, 2021 - 7:00 pm (CDT) - US Foreign Policy: the Impact of the Pandemic and the 2020 Elections Presented by Thomas Hanson, retired Foreign Service Officer, US State Department, and Alworth Institute Diplomat in Residence - Register at - For several years, Hanson has shared with the UMD and area community his assessment of the impact of presidential elections on U.S. foreign policy. He will do this again in this presentation. President Joe Biden’s administration has faced several international challenges and developed its own foreign policy approach, and this has been done while the country and the world deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. Hanson will examine the challenges facing the new administration, its foreign policy team, as well as the surprises and consistencies revealed in the last three months. 

Thomas Hanson

Thomas Hanson’s foreign postings when with the US State Department 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 the Minnesota International Center. He is an occasional foreign affairs commentator on Minnesota Public Radio and instructor at many area colleges. 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.

Wednesday, February 17 - 7:30 pm (CST) - Global Tracking Responses to COVID-19: Protecting Human Rights as Governments Increase Powers to deal with the Pandemic - Register at - Presented by Dr. Fionnuala Ní Aoláin, Special Rapporteur to the United Nations and Regents Professor & Robina Chair in Law, Public Policy, and Society, University of Minnesota; Abby Oakland, Third-year student at the University of Minnesota Law School; and, Seiko Shastri, Third-year student at the University of Minnesota Law School - The speakers will discuss their work on developing a worldwide tracker of governmental responses to the COVID-19 outbreak. The COVID-19 Civic Freedom Tracker is designed to ensure that  governments are held accountable for their use of the powers that they have been granted to deal with the pandemic. The tracker will be updated regularly to keep the use of these extraordinary powers transparent in terms of their effects on human rights and freedoms. The tracker is the result of collaboration between the International Center for Not-for-Profit Law (ICNL) and the European Center for Not-for-Profit Law (ECNL), It was built with the support of Dr. Ní Aoláin in her capacity as U.N. Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism.

Professor Fionnuala Ní Aoláin
Professor Ní Aoláin Professor Ní Aoláin is concurrently Regents Professor at the University of Minnesota Law School and Professor of Law at the Queens University, Belfast. She is the recipient of numerous academic awards including the Leverhulme Fellowship, Fulbright scholarship ,ASIL Certificate of Merit for creative scholarship, Alon Prize, Robert Schumann Scholarship and Lawlor fellowship. She has published extensivel on issues of gender, conflict regulation, transitional justice, and counter-terrorism. She has held academic positions at Columbia Law School, Harvard Law School, Princeton University, and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
Abby Oakland
Abby Oakland works as a research assistant for Professor Fionnuala Ní Aoláin and serves as Editor-in-Chief of Minnesota Law Review. Her areas of interest include international law and  appellate advocacy.
Seiko Shastri

Seiko Shastri is a research assistant for Professor Finnoula Ní Aoláin and serves as a student director for the Federal Immigration Litigation Clinic at the Binger Center for New Americans. Her areas of focus include international human rights law, asylum law, and U.S. immigration law.