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CIS News

This page features up-to-date news on happenings in the College of International Studies. Have a news story to share, or an event/organization worth highlighting? Send it to Marketing Specialist Maura McAndrew at

We publish in-depth CIS stories bi-monthly on our college blog, CIS Snapshot. Visit to read profiles of our students, faculty, programs, events and organizations.

Read CIS Dean Scott Fritzen's blog for a discussion of international education and updates from the College of International Studies administration.

For updates from our departments, college news stories and other news related to international education at OU, read our CIS Newsletter

Recent Stories



College of International Studies Press Releases



Seven OU Students and Alumni Receive Fulbright Grants

NORMANOKLA. – Seven University of Oklahoma students and alumni have been awarded Fulbright grants to learn and teach abroad in the 2020-2021 academic year. 

They are among more than 1,900 U.S. students, artists and early career professionals who were offered Fulbright Program grants to study, teach English and conduct research in over 140 countries throughout the world. Fulbright grant recipients are selected on the basis of academic excellence and achievement, as well as their leadership potential in their respective fields. 

“We are incredibly proud of our Fulbright award recipients, who have worked hard throughout their academic careers to earn this prestigious honor,” said OU President Joseph Harroz Jr. “Their selection is a testament to our culture of nurturing academic excellence and student success. We know these high achievers will represent the very best of OU during their time abroad.”

OU’s Fulbright recipients:

  • Hannah Day, of Wichita, Kansas, graduated in May 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in physics and mathematics. She will spend her Fulbright year in Paris, France, completing a master’s degree in theoretical physics through the École Normale Supérieure International Centre for Fundamental Physics.
  • Britt Leake, of Wichita, Kansas, graduated in May 2020 with a master’s degree in international studies. He also earned his bachelor’s degree at OU with a triple major in international studies, French and Arabic and a minor in Spanish. He will spend his Fulbright year conducting archival research at the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library in New Delhi, India, through affiliation with the Centre for the Study of Law and Governance at Jawaharlal Nehru University, for a project on India’s first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru.
  • Benjamin Levenson, of Cleveland, Ohio, graduated in May 2020 with a triple major in international security studies, German and history. He will spend his Fulbright year as an English teaching assistant in Germany.
  • Lily Lohrey, of Tulsa, Oklahoma, graduated in May 2020 with a master’s degree in international studies. She also earned her bachelor’s degree at OU in international studies and Russian. She will spend her Fulbright year as an English teaching assistant in Moldova.
  • Brit Maguire, of Kansas City, Missouri, graduated in December 2019 with dual bachelor’s degrees in environmental sustainability and German. She will spend her Fulbright year as an English teaching assistant in Germany.
  • Davis Mitchell, of Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, graduated in December 2019 with a bachelor’s degree in international business and finance with minors in Spanish and international studies. He will spend his Fulbright year completing an internship in Mexico City and taking graduate courses at the Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México.
  • Thomas Young, of Edmond, Oklahoma, is finishing a master’s degree in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) at OU with an expected graduation in summer 2020. He will spend his Fulbright year as an English teaching assistant in Germany.

In addition to the seven finalists, two OU students were named as alternates: Elizabeth Besozzi (research in Costa Rica) and Taylor Jipp (teaching English in Hungary). Alternates may be offered an award if additional funding becomes available. 

Since its inception in 1946, the Fulbright Program has provided more than 380,000 participants — chosen for their academic merit and leadership potential — with the opportunity to exchange ideas and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns. The primary source of funding for the Fulbright Program is an annual appropriation by the U.S. Congress to the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Participating governments and host institutions, corporations and foundations in foreign countries and in the United States also provide direct and indirect support. In the United States, the Institute of International Education supports the implementation of the Fulbright U.S. Student Program on behalf of the U.S. Department of State, including conducting an annual competition for the scholarships.      

For more information about the Fulbright Program, visit




Contact: Maura McAndrew

Four OU Students Awarded Critical Language Scholarships

NORMAN, OKLA. – Four University of Oklahoma students were awarded the U.S. Department of State’s prestigious Critical Language Scholarship for summer 2020. OU was second in the Big 12 for student placements and one of only two Oklahoma schools with students receiving the scholarship. The COVID-19 pandemic has unfortunately prompted the suspension of the summer 2020 CLS program, though the selected students are still being recognized for their selection.

·      John Broach of Tulsa, Oklahoma, is a sophomore double major in Chinese and political science with a minor in international studies. He was accepted to study Chinese in Taiwan.

·      Anne Nguyen of Moore, Oklahoma, is a senior chemical biosciences major and Japanese minor. She was accepted to study Japanese at Okayama University in Okayama, Japan.

·      Hima Patel of Moore, Oklahoma, is junior anthropology major. She was accepted to study Hindi at the American Institute of Indian Studies in Jaipur, India.

·      Rachel Williams of DeForest, Wisconsin, is a fourth-year student pursuing a B.A./M.A. in international studies with a second major in Arabic and minor in Spanish. She was accepted to study Arabic in Ibri, Oman.

In addition to the four selected, five OU students were also named as alternates: Bailey Ashbaker (Arabic), Callie Moorhead (Russian), Aubrey Rottscharu (Urdu), Miguel Vazquez (Turkish) and Ivy Zollars (Chinese). 

The CLS program was founded as part of a government effort to promote the study of foreign languages designated “critical” — those that are underrepresented but play an important role in national security and the world economy. In typical years, students selected for the summer program enjoy two fully funded months of language and cultural immersion in a city where their chosen language is spoken. The program draws students from a wide range of fields and interests, and participants are selected based on commitment to language learning and plans to apply language skills to their future academic or professional pursuits.

For more information about the Critical Language Scholarship, visit

OU Fosters U.S. and China Connections through Poetry Dialogue


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE     CONTACT: Jonathan Stalling (405) 593-7939

NORMAN—The US-China Poetry Dialogue brings together Chinese and American poets for a week of public conversations, readings and workshops. The Dialogue seeks to foster cross-cultural understanding through the public humanities.  

This year’s poetry dialogue is open to the public and is scheduled to begin at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 9, a reception is set for 6:30 p.m. with a poetry reading following at 7 p.m. in the Sandy Bell Gallery, 555 Elm Ave., on the OU Norman campus.The reception will feature live music and refreshments. It is requested attendees register for the events.

“Since the establishment of full diplomatic relationship 40 years ago, commerce, trade, and technological exchanges have formed the backbone of the U.S. and China relationship,” said Jonathan Stalling, co-director of US-China Poetry Dialogue and Harold J. and Ruth Newman Chair for US-China Issues. “The US-China Poetry Dialogue was created in the belief that US-China relations cannot be built upon business and policy transactions alone. Rather, we must draw on our shared experiences of what matters most to us, and be cognizant of what could be lost.”

Taking part in US-China Poetry Dialogue are Chinese poets Shu Ting, Zang Di, Yuan Tian, Chen Zongyi, Sun Xiaoya and Mu Ting, and American poets J. L. Martin, Kyle Schlesinger, Simon Han and Glenn Mott. Stalling will emcee this discussion.

“Literature, especially poetry, can give us insight into the future of our relationship, one thatflickers into view in the partial light of our hopes and fears,” Stallings adds. “Poetry has been and remains a vibrant force in both China and the US and provides both nations with a shared cultural space, a public square within which people can share and contest ideas but also find the quiet, personal moments that form the foundation of human flourishing.”

US-China Poetry Dialogue is sponsored by the University of Oklahoma’s Institute for US-China Issues and the Harold J. and Ruth Newman Chair of US-China Issues, the China Poetry Institute and Beijing University. 

Originating in the American heartland, the biennial US-China Poetry Dialoguesexplore the unique history of US-China relations specific to each location. The first locale, Kansas City, Missouri, is the home of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, which holds one of the largest and most significantcollections of Chinese art anywhere in the United States. The city is also fortunate to be the home of Edgar Snow, the first Western journalist to meet Chairman Mao, and an important early proponent in establishing US-China friendship in the 20th century. Kansas City is also the sister city of Xi’an, the birthplace of China, and of Yan’an, the birthplace of the modern Chinese nation. 

The second dialogue location, the University of Oklahoma, is a national hub for Chinese public humanities and is home to not only the Institute for US-China Issues, but also the US-China Poetry Dialogue, the Newman Prize for Chinese Literature, the Newman Award for English Jueju, the Chinese Literature Translation Archive and Chinese Literature Today, a leading journal and book series dedicated to bringing Chinese literary culture to the English-speaking world.   

The third locale, Northwest Arkansas, has arguably played the largest — although largely unacknowledged — role in modern U.S.-China relations as the home of Walmart, the leading company that shaped the US-China economic relationship into what it is today. This year, the Dialogue will inaugurate a new poetry sister-city relationship between Eureka Springs, Arkansas, and Jinhua City in Zhejiang Province, celebrating their important roles in Chinese and American poetry. 

For more information, please visit or contact Jonathan Stalling at or by phone at (405) 593-7939.

OU College of International Studies to Launch Center on Brazil


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE     CONTACT: David L. Boren College of International Studies (405) 325-1396

NORMAN–– A Center for Brazil Studies, one of only a few of its kind in the country, is being launched within the David L. Boren College of International Studies. The Center, led by International Studies assistant professors Fabio de Sa e Silva and Michelle Morais, will cooperate with other OU units and partner with Brazilian institutions to provide the OU community with an array of teaching and research opportunities. The Center will place emphasis on democracy and human rights.

“This focus speaks to the challenges Brazil has faced throughout its history and as we speak,” said Morais. “There is no question about Brazil’s richness and diversity in terms of natural resources, but staggering inequality and authoritarianism make it always be seen as ‘the country of the future.’ We want to understand what is needed for that future to come,” added de Sa e Silva, who also is the holder of the College’s Wick Cary Professorship in Brazilian Studies.”

The Center builds on a variety of initiatives relating to Brazil that have grown at the College and on the OU campus over the past years, to which it hopes to give a more organic and strategic approach. In addition to undergraduate classes on Brazil taught by faculty from various departments, OU has a dynamic Portuguese program that has driven increased interest in Brazilian culture and society. In addition, the University had just launched a new publication series covering different aspects of Brazilian development in an accessible form. It also has promoted periodic events on the country, including the upcoming IAS Annual Symposium (planned for spring 2020), the theme of which will be “The environment, human rights and democracy in Bolsonaro’s Brazil.”

Demand for study abroad opportunities in Brazil has grown among OU students and faculty and, while the University’s facility in Rio de Janeiro was recently closed, the CFBS will work to ensure that programs continue to be offered every summer. In summer 2020, de Sa e Silva will lead the first of such programs with OU sociologist Christopher Hill. The program covers issues of crime, criminal policy and democracy and will include field trips to Rio and Brasilia. 

The Center also hopes to increase the presence of Brazilian academics and professionals at OU. “In the past few years, we worked to structure a Visiting Scholars Program, through which we have hosted advanced graduate students or senior public servants on sabbatical leave,” Morais explained. “They may spend up to an academic year in Norman developing their work and have contributed immensely to our ability to keep up with the ongoing changes in Brazil.” 

The Center targets the Brazilian audience more broadly, though. “We also sponsor an Internship Program, through which we bring undergraduate or junior graduate students to work with us in the administration of the program or our research. And in partnership with the Institute for Public Law, we have just promoted the inaugural edition of a Summer School, whereby Brazilian students came to OU for an intensive course on issues of global law and policy,” said de Sa e Silva.

The Center also has bold plans on the research front, where it aims to connect faculty from multiple areas of expertise to design large research projects and seek grants. This research effort will contribute to overall plans for the College of International Studies to raise its national and international profile. The first of such attempts will target socioecological changes in the Brazilian Amazon, bringing together faculty from data science and informatics, ecological systems, law and policy, and indigenous issues.

Faculty, students and others who are interested in following the Center’s activities and programs are invited to subscribe to the Center’s newsletter or visit and the Center’s social media pages. To speak with the Center’s directors, please email

OU Center for Peace and Development Holds Conference on Grassroots Peacebuilding in Northern Uganda


Contact: David L. Boren College of International Studies (405) 325-1396


The David L. Boren College of International Studies is pleased to announce that in June 2018, OU’s Center for Peace and Development (CPD) partnered with St. Monica’s Girls Tailoring Centre and nine women’s organizations to hold a Conference on Grassroots Peacebuilding in Northern Uganda. OU faculty Sally BeachLupe DavidsonJohn HarrisAndreana Prichard and students from Education, Regional and City Planning, the WaTER Center and Women’s and Gender Studies traveled to the city of Gulu for the three-day conference, which was sponsored by the nonprofit organization Pros for Africa.

The conference brought together 78 women from all five sub-regions of North and Northeast Uganda, who engaged in small group discussions and intergroup exchanges regarding sources of conflict in their communities and priorities for action. The CPD has previously worked with grassroots organizations in Northern Uganda on projects related to peacebuilding, development and gender equity as part of its mission to build collaborative relationships with communities affected by conflict.

Conference convener Sr. Rosemary Nyirumbe expressed satisfaction with the outcome of the conference, stating that it achieved its goal of bringing together women affected by conflict to discuss their lives and propose solutions. “The conference created the needed space for grassroots women from different regions in Northern Uganda to think together about peace and social transformation,” agreed Dr. Lupe Davidson, Associate Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies and Co-director of the OU Center for Social Justice. “I’m very proud that the CPD was able to partner with various groups to make it happen.”

Dr. Andreana Prichard, Assistant Professor of African History in the OU Honors College, noted that the conference allowed women from different communities to share experiences and support one another. “Many women are dealing with the effects of the war in northern Uganda — former abductees deal with the physical effects of captivity and trauma, and with shame and ostracism. They were able to speak to women in grassroots organizations in other parts of the country who also suffer — from war, from rape, from HIV/AIDS, from living as refugees.”

For Prichard, the conference’s most important function was to offer these women a platform. “This conference allowed women whose voices are not often heard or taken seriously to do just that: to be heard and to be taken seriously,” she said. “The conversations were incredibly powerful and seemed to offer an opportunity for continued healing.”

The conference was also a powerful experience for the OU students in attendance. As Sally Beach, Grant Family Presidential Professor in the College of Education explained, “Watching the OU students interact with and support the women as they exchanged ideas supported my belief in the value of service as a way of learning about the world outside of your own comfortable life.” These students will continue to assist the women’s groups by compiling reports, policy briefs and action items for use in their ongoing organizing and advocacy work.

CIS is extremely proud of the work that OU Center for Peace and Development affiliated faculty and students continue to do in Uganda. For more information about the CPD and its initiatives, visit

Dr. Rebecca Cruise Promoted to Associate Dean of Student Services


Contact: David L. Boren College of International Studies (405) 325-1396

NORMAN—The David L. Boren College of International Studies is proud to announce the promotion of Dr. Rebecca Cruise to Associate Dean of Student Services. An Assistant Professor of International and Area Studies, Dr. Cruise has also served as CIS Assistant Dean since 2013. She began her CIS career at CIS as a Special Assistant to the Dean in 2012 after earning her PhD in Political Science from OU in 2011.

Throughout her time in CIS, Dr. Cruise has made her mark in the classroom, developing and teaching popular courses including Global Security, Comparative National Security, Women in International Security and International Activism. She is also known as a dedicated mentor and advocate for students — roles that will she will continue to serve in her new position.

“Dr. Cruise is the quintessential educator, colleague and administrator,” says Suzette Grillot, Dean of the Boren College of International Studies. “I do not know another university professor more committed to students in and out of the classroom. CIS students benefit tremendously from courses she creates and delivers, programs she manages and implements, and events she organizes and oversees. We are lucky to have Dr. Cruise on the CIS team – and OU students are fortunate to learn from and interact with such a gifted member of the faculty.”

According to Mitchell Smith, Boren College of International Studies Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, “Dr. Cruise is an extremely dedicated professional. Many of us have benefited greatly from working with her since she joined the CIS leadership team. Her promotion is richly deserved.”

Dr. Cruise’s research focuses on security studies and comparative politics, especially issue of security community development, international organizations, post-conflict resolution, political participation and gender. Her work has been published in International Politics, Journal of Homeland Security and Emergency Management and Croatian International Relations Review, and she has co-written a book on international maritime security policy. She is currently working on her next book, entitled Eastern Efficacy: Female Political Participation in Post Communist Europe.