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Troubled Borders: Sovereignty, Disease, War, and Refugees

For more than 60 years, the University of Idaho’s Borah Foundation has focused attention on the causes of war and the conditions for peace. Its annual symposia bring together world leaders, diplomats, scholars and activists to discuss current problems facing our global community and to offer solutions.

The 2015 Borah Symposium is scheduled for April 6-8. The topic, “Troubled Borders: Sovereignty, Disease, War, and Refugees,” is especially pertinent. National borders are challenged by the Russian incursion into the Ukraine. ISIS threatens to overwhelm and occupy existing nation states, while its terrorist tactics shock the globe to the core. Ebola crosses borders, including into the U.S., and makes clear the vital work of organizations such as Doctors Without Borders and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Massive cross-border migrations caused by war, economic disparity and climate change raise issues of sovereignty, security, justice and compassion throughout the world.

“This year the Borah Committee decided to focus on border issues and the development of territorial sovereignty. These concepts are generally abstract but we found many concrete examples of how they directly apply to the contemporary global community, affecting millions," said Benjamin Kirchmeier, ITS customer support manager and co-chairman of the Borah Symposium.

The symposium, which is free and open to the public, will begin Monday, April 6, with the screening of the award-winning documentary “Climate Refugees,” presented by director Michael P. Nash. The documentary focuses on disasters resulting from incremental and rapid ecological change, including increased droughts, desertification, sea level rise and the more frequent occurrence of extreme weather events such as hurricanes, cyclones, fires, mass flooding and tornadoes. All this is causing mass global migration and border conflicts.

On Tuesday, April 7, global health experts will address issues of pandemics and cross-border medical emergencies. That evening, Hendrik Spruyt, Norman Dwight Harris professor of international relations, department of political science at Northwestern University, will present the symposium plenary address. Spruyt was chairman of the department of political science at Northwestern from 2005-08 and director of the Buffett Center for International and Comparative Studies from 2008-13. His published work includes “The Sovereign State and Its Competitors” (Princeton University Press, 1994), which won the J. David Greenstone Prize for best book in history and politics 1994-96. His book “Ending Empire: Contested Sovereignty and Territorial Partition” (Cornell University Press 2005) was a runner up for the Greenstone Prize in 2006.

The symposium concludes on Wednesday, April 8. At 11:30, Northwest Public Radio journalist Gillian Coldsnow will moderate a panel discussion about international immigration. In the evening, Thomas P.M. Barnett will deliver the keynote. Barnett is the New York Times-bestselling author of “The Pentagon’s New Map, Blueprint for Action” and “Great Powers: America and the World after Bush.” Barnett is a strategic planner who has worked in national security affairs since the end of the Cold War. He regularly advises the Office of Secretary of Defense (OSD), Special Operations Command and the Joint Forces Command and routinely offers briefings to senior members of all four military services, the intelligence community and Congress. He formerly served as senior strategic researcher at the Naval War College and as assistant for strategic futures in OSD’s Office of Force Transformation.

“We have organized presentations covering refugees affected by conflict and environmental changes, incursions by one political power into another's sovereign land, and transborder effects of communicable diseases. The conditions for peace affected by any one of these issues precipitate quickly into difficult situations. To understand how political, health care and other global leaders handle these situations is our goal for the 2015 Borah Symposium,” said Kirchmeier.

Schedule of Events, 2015

Monday, April 6 at 11:30 a.m.

Location: Vandal Ballroom
“Healthcare and Refugees in Idaho”
Presented by Alysha Van Zante, Martin-McClure Student Ambassador

Monday, April 6 at 7 a.m.

Location: Kenworthy Performance Center
Documentary Screening: “Climate Refugees
Presented by film director Michael P. Nash

Tuesday, April 7 at 12:30 p.m.

Location: Vandal Ballroom
“Global Pandemics and Cross-Border Medical Emergencies”
Presented by Patricia Carrick, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)

Tuesday, April 7 at 7 p.m.

Location: International Ballroom
Plenary Address: “Development of Territorial Sovereignty, Why It Matters”
Presented by Dr. Hendrik Spruyt, Professor at Northwestern University

Wednesday, April 8 at 11:30 a.m.

Location: Vandal Ballroom
Panel Discussion, “Transboundary Issues in North America”
Moderator: Gillian Coldsnow, Program Director, Northwest Public Radio
Panelist: Guillermo Ordorica, Consul General of Mexico in Boise, Idaho
Panelist: James Hill, Consul General of Canada in Seattle, Washington

Wednesday, April 8 at 7 p.m.

Location: International Ballroom
Keynote Address: “Troubled Borders”
Presented by Dr. Thomas P.M. Barnett, Author and Global Affairs Expert

Borah Symposium

Physical Address:
338 Administration Building

Mailing Address:
Borah Foundation & Symposium
c/o The Martin Institute
University of Idaho
875 Perimeter Drive MS 3177
Moscow, ID 83844-3177

Phone: 208-885-6527

Fax: 208-885-9464