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Professional Development Workshops

Refugee Protection Issues in Central Europe and the Balkans

John A. Young (BA Russian/REES ‘86, JD ‘90)

Monday, January 31, 2022
11:30 AM-12:45 PM ET, to be held on Zoom

Please note that this workshop is limited to current U-M students and registration is now closed.

Recent promises in the West to accept refugees fleeing Afghanistan in the wake of the Taliban takeover stand in stark contrast to the actions of border officials along the way. Often characterized as migrants despite fleeing war and persecution, borders from Turkey through the Western Balkans to the EU remain difficult to navigate for those who cannot afford smugglers. At the same time, movements along all routes, especially through the Western Balkans, are increasing significantly, all during another round of Covid-related restrictions and shutdowns.

Readings and Workshop
In preparation for the workshop, students will receive documents essential to understanding the issues and actors at play. During the workshop, we will break into smaller groups to reconcile the various conflicting mandates of the state and international actors, and the role of NGOs, and seek ways forward that respect international legal obligations while reflecting the situation on the ground.

John A. Young (BA Russian and REES ‘86, JD ‘90) has devoted most of his career to refugee protection in Europe and the Middle East. Based mainly with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) since 1994, he also worked five years at the European Commission in pre-accession projects on law and justice, human rights, and minorities. Throughout his career, John has been engaged in refugee status determination, resettlement, asylum-building, migration management, and the identification and response to vulnerable persons. While in Brussels he prepared UNHCR's legal submissions for ECHR in Strasbourg, and the Court of Justice, and worked with the European Parliament and Commission on EU Asylum legislation. Presently he is the Head of the UNHCR Protection Learning Unit in Budapest. He has also served in Russia, Switzerland, Serbia, and Slovakia, with missions to Kenya, Uganda, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia.

Past Workshops

U.S.-Russian Strategic Stability Dialogue

Ambassador Mark Pekala (BA Political Science '81)

Monday, October 11, 2021

After their meeting in Geneva on June 16, U.S. President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin issued a Joint Statement announcing the launch of “an integrated bilateral Strategic Stability Dialogue in the near future that will be deliberate and robust.” The Strategic Stability Dialogue offers an opportunity for both sides to examine—and possibly reshape—the fundamentals of the bilateral relationship. High-level dialogue and even working-level contacts have atrophied in recent years. The two sides have not had meaningful discussions on fundamental issues such as arms control, cyber security, interference in domestic politics, “red-lines” in domestic and international behavior, and other “rules of the game.” Nor have they engaged in discussions of such positive efforts as cultural connections, student exchanges, or collaborative scientific research. The U.S.-Russia relationship needs to be updated for the 21st century. Each side needs to examine its national interests and determine how the bilateral relationship reinforces or undermines them—and how both sides can work together to defend and advance their interests. The goal of any negotiation is to find outcomes that both sides can consider a win.

Ambassador Mark Pekala (BA Political Science '81) has served as Deputy Chief of Mission (DCM) in Paris, DCM in Tallinn, Deputy Assistant Secretary (DAS) in the State Department’s Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, and Senior Director for Russian Affairs on the National Security Council staff.  From 1998 to 1999, Ambassador Pekala was a Rusk Fellow at Georgetown University, teaching graduate seminars on U.S.-Russian Relations and European Security. Ambassador Pekala has received nine State Department Superior Honor Awards, seven senior performance awards, two Meritorious Honor Awards, the W. Averell Harriman Award, and the Matilda W. Sinclaire Language Award.  From the Government of Estonia, he received the Order of the Cross of Terra Mariana, Third Class, and he received Latvia’s highest state decoration, the Order of the Three Stars. 

Prior to the workshop, students will receive a small packet of readings on precedents for the Strategic Stability Dialogue and current issues in U.S.-Russian relations. During the workshop, students will break into small groups, each tasked with determining U.S. preferences for the basic structure of the Strategic Stability Dialogue, its conduct, and its mandate and agenda (i.e., the substantive issues it will address).  

Participatory Development in the Kyrgyz Republic: A Simulation and Discussion

Amy Harris, post-doctoral fellow, Ford School of Public Policy, U-M

April 13, 2021

From 2014-2019, the US Agency for International Development implemented a project in the Kyrgyz Republic to strengthen agricultural productivity and address food insecurity, primarily among agricultural farming families. One of the first steps the project took in 2014 was to engage with local stakeholders to decide which agricultural value chains to target, and what type of farm-level assistance would be most effective.

During the workshop, students will each take on the role of a key stakeholder and participate in a community deliberation activity to help the project make these decisions. Students will participate in a variety of participation tools to spur brainstorming and information sharing, generate ideas, resolve conflict, and make group decisions. After the simulation, students will have a discussion about the exercise, reflecting on the experience of being a participant; how participation can unearth previously unidentified problems, solutions, and critical contextual factors; compare the tools and approaches applied to other types of participation tools and approaches; and the role of community power dynamics in participation activities.

Amy Harris, a post-doctoral fellow at the Ford School of Public Policy, will lead this workshop. Amy merges both experiences as a former foreign aid implementation professional working on USAID and World Bank projects, and academic expertise in foreign aid contracting and participatory development. Amy holds a PhD in Public Policy and Management from the University of Washington.

Participating students must agree to complete select readings prior to the workshop session and to play an active role in the simulation, as an assigned stakeholder. More details will be provided upon registration. Students are also required to attend the workshop session in its entirety. For those without a 1 pm scheduling conflict, Dr. Harris will continue her post-simulation debrief until 1:15 pm (EDT).

Energy Diplomacy: Central Europe Takes Charge of Its Own Destiny

David J. Kostelancik (MA Political Science/REES ’88), Director, Office of South Central Europe at U.S. Department of State

March 18 & 19, 2021

The third CREES/Ford U.S.-Russia Future Leaders Professional Development Workshop will be led by David J. Kostelancik (MA Political Science/REES ’88), Director of the Office of South Central Europe at U.S. Department of State. Participants must be current U-M students and will be admitted, space pending, beginning March 8. 

Central and Southern European countries for decades after World War II, for political and geostrategic reasons turned to the Soviet Union, and then Russia, for their energy needs – oil, gas and nuclear. The Soviet Union constructed pipelines from East to West without connecting countries from North to South, hobbling their ability to cooperate and making them dependent on Moscow. With the demise of centrally-planned economies and the accession of many of the regions’ countries into NATO and the EU, efforts have intensified to help the regions diversify energy sources, which in turn gives them greater control over their own national economic development.

The United States has been at the forefront of promoting energy diversification in Europe for 30 years. More than ever, support for diversification has focused on Central and Southern Europe, including the Three Seas Initiative (3SI), a European-led initiative launched in 2016 by EU countries between the Baltic, Adriatic, and Black Seas to promote dialogue, investment and interconnection projects in energy, transportation, and digital infrastructure.

This workshop will review some history of these regions’ energy (in)dependence and students will explore how the United States and European partners can work more closely to give Central and Southern European countries greater opportunities for growth and investment and provide a stable, resilient basis for the regions’ long-term development.

David Kostelancik, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service of the United States, rank of Minister-Counselor, became the Director of the State Department’s Office of South Central Europe in August 2019. During his three years in Budapest, 2016-2019, he served one year as Deputy Chief of Mission and two years as Charge d’affaires. Other assignments include Director of the Office of Russian Affairs and Deputy of the Office of North Central Europe at the State Department, Acting Minister Counselor for Political Affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, as well as postings to the National Security Council, U.S. Mission to the OSCE, the U.S. Mission to NATO (Brussels, Belgium), the U.S. Embassy Tirana, Albania and the U.S. Embassy Ankara, Turkey. Mr. Kostelancik received Bachelors of Arts degrees from Northwestern University in applied mathematics and political science, a Masters of Arts degree from the University of Michigan in Russian and East European studies, and a Masters of Science degree in national security policy from the National Defense University. He speaks Russian, Albanian, Turkish, and Hungarian.

Participating students must agree to complete select readings and a brief writing assignment to the workshop session. More details will be provided upon registration.

Supporting Government Transparency in Ukraine: The Role of NGOs and EU Policymakers

Tinatin Tsertsvadze, policy analyst, Open Society European Policy Institute

January 25, 2021

The second CREES/Ford U.S.-Russia Future Leaders Professional Development Workshop will be led by Tinatin Tsertsvadze, policy analyst at the Open Society European Policy Institute.

In October 2020, Ukraine’s Constitutional Court ruled that the country’s National Agency on Prevention of Corruption (NAPC) could no longer publish the electronic asset declarations of government officials. The court also struck down the imposing of criminal liability on government officials who provide false information on these asset declarations. The court’s decision represents a significant setback for government transparency advocates. The ruling may also negatively impact Ukraine - EU relations.

This workshop will have students analyze the role that international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) can play in raising awareness of, and advocating for, increased government transparency in Ukraine. During the workshop, students will consider the practical steps NGOs can take to obtain buy-in from both Ukraine-based civic organizations and EU policymakers to advance anti-corruption efforts. Participating students must agree to complete select readings and a brief writing assignment prior to the workshop session.

Tinatin Tsertsvadze, a policy analyst at the Open Society European Policy Institute, will lead this workshop. She is an expert on human rights and rule of law policy in the European Union, Eastern Europe and Eurasia. Before joining the Open Society European Policy Institute, she worked at the Human Rights and Democracy Network and the Foundation for International Relations and Foreign Dialogue.

Assessing Information about Russia and Its Neighbors

Jill Dougherty (BA Russian ’70), Walsh School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University

September 17 & 18, 2020

The inaugural CREES/Ford U.S.-Russia Future Leaders Professional Development Workshop will be led by Jill Dougherty (BA Russian ’70), Walsh School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University. Participants must be current U-M students and will be admitted on a first come, first serve basis beginning September 1. The two-session online workshop will help students develop journalistic skills to assess the views of Russians on wide-spread protests in neighboring Belarus against the re-election of President Alexander Lukashenko. Russians of all ages are drawing conclusions, both about Lukashenko’s control of his country, and about what lessons the public uprising has for Russian citizens living under the administration of Vladimir Putin. Special attention will be paid to the views of young Russians, wherever possible. Since this is a developing situation, students will have to think on their feet. Those students who register will receive short assignments the night before and after the first session. In the second session on Friday, students will receive feedback on their assignments and discuss a wide variety of news sources.

Jill Dougherty served as CNN correspondent for three decades. Her area of expertise is Russia and the post-Soviet region. She served as CNN's Moscow Bureau Chief for almost a decade. Other postings include: White House correspondent; Foreign Affairs Correspondent covering U.S. State Department; U.S. Affairs Editor; Managing Editor CNN International, Asia-Pacific, based in Hong Kong. She pursued research on Russia as a fellow at the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C. and serves as member of the Kennan Institute Advisory Council. She is an Adjunct Professor at Georgetown University. As an expert on Russia, she is a CNN on-air Contributor. Her articles have appeared in;;;; and other publications.