International Initiatives

January 16, 2023
photo of two women and photo of one woman
L-R Center for Global Studies Director Caroline McCracken-Flesher and Vice Provost for Global Engagement Isadora Helfgott. Global Engagement Fellow Dilnoza Khasilova.

From visiting artists to community tours and international law programming, UW brings the world to Wyoming and Wyoming to the world. 

By Micaela Myers 

International Community Tours

Imagine visiting a country not just as a tourist but as a student of culture, immersed in the local experience and guided by someone intimately knowledgeable about the locale. Perhaps you’re learning to make the traditional pots of Uzbekistan in a master class or visiting an amazing mining museum in Scotland. Now you, as an alumnus or community member, can experience all of that and more as part of UW’s WyoGlobal Study Tours. WyoGlobal is the home of internationalization at UW.

First up on the list are tours to Uzbekistan and Scotland, followed by Greece and Jerusalem. The tour to Uzbekistan this coming spring will be led by Uzbekistan native Dilnoza Khasilova and Haub School of Environment and Natural Resources Dean John Koprowski.

“We’ll connect visitors to personal experiences,” says Khasilova, who graduated with her doctorate from UW in 2020 and is now a global engagement fellow at UW. “We won’t just read and listen to tours, but we’ll engage and have master workshops. Anyone can request to join us. We’re trying to build programming to go to different countries.”

The Scotland community tour also takes place this spring and will be led by English Professor and Center for Global Studies Director Caroline McCracken-Flesher and Vice Provost for Global Engagement Isadora Helfgott. McCracken-Flesher is the founder of the UW in Scotland program and holds awards for her work in Scottish studies, while Helfgott is internationally recognized for her work in museum studies.

In 2024, the community tours will expand to Greece — led by experts in art history and political science — and to Jerusalem — led by specialists in the ancient Mediterranean and heritage tourism. With sufficient interest, WyoGlobal hopes to expand to other countries as well. Contact to learn more!

group of women
Members of Nobuntu. Photo by Ronald Davis.

African Ensemble Visits Laramie

The Department of Theatre and Dance hosted the internationally acclaimed Zimbabwean female a cappella quintet Nobuntu this past November. Nobuntu’s inventive performances range from traditional Zimbabwean songs to Afro jazz and gospel.

“Audiences were inspired and energized by this group of talented women,” says music Department Head and Professor Katrina Zook.

They perform with pure voices, augmented by minimalistic percussion, traditional instruments such as the mbira (thumb piano) and organic authentic dance movements. Nobuntu’s visit didn’t stop with a performance open to the public. Members of Nobuntu also conducted a workshop with singers from UW’s various choral ensembles and one for UW students studying music education, the department’s largest degree program, which prepares K–12 music teachers. 

Zook says, “UW students learned about the history and musical traditions of Zimbabwe and gleaned a deeper understanding about music and dance from southeastern Africa.”

person hanging sideways from a tree stump in the water
Vertical dancer Wanda Moretti. (Photo by Marco Castelli)

Italian Vertical Dance Pioneer

While dancers often leap to impressive heights, few universities teach them to dance mid-air, suspended off the rocks of Vedauwoo, off the sides of buildings or above the stage. But thanks to innovative professors such as Margaret Wilson and Neil Humphrey, UW dance students enjoy this rare opportunity.

“UW was the first university in the U.S. to offer vertical dance courses starting in 1999,” Wilson says.

To further this work, the Department of Theatre and Dance hosted Italian vertical dance pioneer Wanda Moretti and her colleague Simona Forlani for a 12-day August residency that included a workshop for students, two keynote presentations and two vertical dance performances outside of the Buchanan Center for the Performing Arts. 

Since the 1990s, Moretti has created specialized techniques and site-specific explorations, conducted a variety of educational activities and founded the international Vertical Dance Network, which unites the most important vertical dance companies in the world. Moretti’s work has been performed internationally, and Wilson and Humphrey traveled to Italy in 2012 to study and collaborate. Wilson and Humphrey also danced in the August performances, with musical accompaniment from UW music faculty members Ben Markley and Andy Wheelock.

“Moretti and Forlani created a site-specific work for UW students and alumni on the north wall of the Buchanan Center for the Performing Arts,” Wilson says. “Set in the early evening, the setting sun and projection of theatrical light on the wall created a most unusual space. A wide range of students, faculty and Laramie community members were in attendance.” 

International Law

Whether law students plan to incorporate pro bono work for asylum seekers into their private practices, to represent global brands or to focus their careers internationally, UW’s Center for International Human Rights Law and Advocacy offers hands-on international law opportunities, coursework and the chance to help others around the world. Since the center’s founding in 2010, students have represented individuals fleeing persecution in asylum proceedings, promoted the rights of women and girls in Mozambique and Cambodia, and advised lawmakers in Uganda on best practices relating to oil governance, among other projects.

The center’s work includes the International Human Rights Clinic, a speaker series of international human rights experts in conjunction with WyoGlobal, the Jessup international moot court competition, international law curriculum and international internships.

“We live in a global world, and students need to understand how international law and human rights issues affect us,” says the center’s director, law Professor Noah Novogrodsky. “Our graduates will be dealing with individuals and companies around the world that are doing business in the U.S. and, likewise, they are going to be representing U.S. interests in a global world. In terms of the human rights component, many of our students are looking to make a difference and wed their legal skills to social justice. We provide all sorts of opportunities for them to do just that.”

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Law student Paige Brimhall (second from left) during her international internship at the Southern Africa Litigation Centre. (Courtesy image)

Novogrodsky developed his interest in international law while a student himself and has centered his career on these issues. The center’s successes include students winning the regional moot court competition in 2017 and representing the U.S. in the international competition in Washington, D.C., where final arguments are done in front of International Court of Justice judges and other international law experts.

Law students can also apply for international internships. This past summer, second-year law student Paige Brimhall of Provo, Utah, completed an internship in Johannesburg, South Africa, with the Southern Africa Litigation Centre.

“This internship truly changed my life,” Brimhall says. “I feel like it is simple and slightly unrealistic to just state you want a career in human rights, but to actually be a part of the work is different. I learned many valuable lessons in the work and heart that goes into international human rights work. Through this internship, I was able to assist with cases throughout southern African countries and be a part of an amazing nongovernmental organization and their work.”

Up to seven students a semester participate in UW’s International Human Rights Clinic, one of several experiential learning clinics at UW.

“We’re the only law school in the region to have an international human rights clinic,” Novogrodsky says.

A current project involves seafood slavery in Thailand. Novogrodsky says, “Between 2014 and 2019, tens of thousands of migrant workers were exploited and abused in the seafood industry of Thailand until international pressure compelled them to stop the worst abuses and clean up the supply chain. Our contribution is to try to develop a compensation fund for the workers who were enslaved on the boats.”

The International Human Rights Clinic is directed by Professor Jerry Fowler, who enjoyed a successful 20-year career in human rights advocacy in Washington, D.C., before joining UW in 2020.

“We’ve done a wide variety of projects in the past, including reports on implementation of human rights standards in Latin America and Asia in cooperation with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights,” Fowler says. “Right now, we’re in the middle of a couple of projects, including partnering with a nongovernmental organization that is working with an indigenous group in Colombia.”

For this project, students are examining the Escazú Agreement that was signed in Costa Rica and strengthens the link between human rights and environmental defense. The agreement may have relevance to the work in Colombia, where indigenous people’s culture and land are under threat from development and resource extraction.

“Another project we’re working on is a report on digital authoritarianism, which is the use of technology by governments to violate human rights and facilitate oppression — like shutting off the internet and conducting surveillance,” Fowler says.

While human rights work is intrinsically important, he notes that international exposure is beneficial to all law students, regardless of their planned careers.

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