Student Matthew Reitz interviewed Karisa Cloward about her first book, “When Norms Collide”

9780190274917Karisa Cloward, Assistant Professor of Political Science and Associate of the Tower Center, recently published her first book “When Norms Collide: Local Responses to Activism Against Female Genital Mutilation and Early Marriage.” In her groundbreaking research, Cloward explores the clash between international norms that respect women’s rights and local norms that favor female genital mutilation (FGM) and early marriage as cultural norms. For activist groups and NGOs seeking to change the behavior of these African and Middle Eastern communities, Cloward identifies several important trends and key findings.

One trend focuses on the diversity of the communities involved. In heterogeneous communities, it is much easier to bring change due to the melding of different cultures and beliefs, while homogenous societies were much more resistant to change due to the cultural factor. One of the central forces opposing change in homogenous cultures is that it’s hard for uncircumcised women to get married. Homogenous cultures have many varying beliefs about uncircumcised women, which are untested, that create social pressures for women to undergo FGM. No single activist strategy will match every culture, and activist strategies should account for this. Some cultures see FGM as a rite of passage to womanhood while others see religious significance in it, and many NGOs unfortunately lump these different viewpoints together.

Thus, according to Cloward, local elites should be included in anti-FGM and anti-early marriage efforts alongside current efforts. Convincing the women who undergo FGM raises awareness, but getting the support of local elites helps speed up the cultural change. If the elites of the society, the leaders plus prominent cultural and religious figures, are convinced, it is far easier for the culture to shift in a direction that matches international norms of women’s rights. Many NGOs focus solely on the women directly affected, but the women are not the decision-makers.

Additionally, while there is a lot of public awareness on the international stage surrounding FGM, Cloward points out the need for more awareness of the harm of early marriage. Whereas FGM conjures a shocking, visceral image of immediate harm, early marriage does more harm to women on the long-term. Women subjected to early marriage typically have earlier pregnancies which is dangerous due to the body not being fully developed and the lack of adequate healthcare. Early marriage is typically undertaken for economic reasons, as dowries are seen as a method of settling debts or exchanging goods. For this reason, conditions like drought or poor harvests are correlated with increases in early marriages. International attention only recently began to pay attention to early marriage and more is needed to be done to address the issue.

In sum, Cloward’s book explores responses to activism surrounding female genital mutilation and early marriage. Both FGM and early marriage have international attention surrounding them but more needs to be done to truly make change. NGOs should divert their efforts towards the community elites and customize their message to the community rather than attempt a one-size-fits-all solution. FGM, while the more immediate and visceral of the two in terms of harm, is equally as important to combat as early marriage. Basing activist factors on community-factors will ultimately do more to combat FGM and early marriage and help spread international norms of women’s rights to communities throughout Africa and the Middle East.

Matthew Reitz is from Colleyville, Texas and is majoring in political science and financial consulting. Matthew is in the University Honors program and the Mustang 11 spirit group. He is also a Hilltop Scholar and has served as an inaugural member of the Residential Commons Leadership Corps. He serves as the President of Cockrell-McIntosh Commons and is an active member of the Alpha Kappa Psi professional business fraternity. His key interest is researching and developing policy for US international affairs in the East-Asia region that correspond to US national security and economic interests. He plans to pursue a career in the US government after completing graduate school.

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Article by Emma Horner on Thomas Cronin | Presidential Leadership and the 2016 Election

Leadership Expert Discusses Complex 2016 Presidential Race

By Emma Horner

The 2016 election has made becoming the next United States President more burdensome, according to a presidential leadership expert during a lecture on Thursday night.

            Thomas Cronin, McHugh Professor of American Institutions and Leadership at Colorado College, guest lectured at the John Goodman Tower Center for Political Studies at Southern Methodist University. He discussed the current campaigns and potential candidate possibilities for the Democrats and the Republicans, including their chances of winning the November election.

            Cronin argued that the winner would gain a large victory, but also a larger burden. He also said that President Obama’s 19 percent approval rating will be difficult to follow coming into the White House.

            There are more than 270 days before the November elections. However, there are only 27 days until the Texas primary.

            “[Cronin] wanted to come before the March primary to have a talk with Texans, to talk about the Iowa caucuses,” said Victoria Farrar-Myers, the Director of the Tower Scholars Program and a Senior Fellow in the Tower Center.

            Cronin treated the lecture hall like his college classroom. Attendees followed along with a packet of handouts that Cronin distributed before the lecture. The contents of these handouts ranged from presidential approval polls, spanning the last 50 years, to lists of factors that unite and divide U.S. citizens. Cronin related this information to how it will impact the 2016 presidential campaigns and election. Cronin spoke in such a way that both students and faculty could relate to his discussion topics.

            “I thought he offered a lot of good insight,” first-year Dedman Scholar Evan Snyder said. “He touched on what, I think, a lot of people in America are feeling in this election and on just the kind of issues that are becoming important.”

            Cronin discussed a wide array of issues that will be concerns for the future President of the United States.

            “Some of them, like immigration and homeland security, have been important for a long time,” Snyder said. “But others, like foreign policy, like we talked about, are not a huge issue. But with the terrorist organizations and stuff that are prominent, it’s becoming a homeland security issue.”

            Some students who attended the event participate in the Tower Scholars program for undergraduate students. Other student attendees desired to supplement their educations. This group included Kenji Yamanaka, a first-year international student from Japan, even though he cannot participate in the November elections.

            “I want to expand knowledge of leadership in America,” Yamanaka said. “I think this is a great opportunity for me to learn.”

            Cronin could not say who he thought would win the November elections, though he did acknowledge the difficulty for a party to win a third term.

            Cronin emphasized that this election is even more disjointed than previous elections. He remains captivated by new polling phenomena occurring within the parties during this election season, even with his years of research and experience.

            “The debates and divides within each party are sometimes greater than that between the parties,” Cronin said.

            The race to the White House has many more months to go. There are still many candidates who could possibly win.

            “You never know in this business.”

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Historian David McCullough receives SMU Tower Center Medal of Freedom

David McCullough, the Pulitzer Prize-winning writer often called “America’s greatest historian,” received the Medal of Freedom from SMU’s John Goodwin Tower Center for Political Studies Nov. 18. The award is given by the Tower Center every two years to an individual or individuals who have contributed to the advancement of democratic ideals and to the security, prosperity and welfare of humanity.

(l. to r.) President George W. Bush, David McCullough, First Lady Laura Bush, SMU trustee Jeanne Tower Cox and her sister, Penny Tower Cook.

(l. to r.) President George W. Bush, David McCullough, First Lady Laura Bush, SMU trustee Jeanne Tower Cox and her sister, Penny Tower Cook.

President and Mrs. George W. Bush presented the award during an event held at the home of Kelli and Gerald J. Ford. The Medal of Freedom Committee, chaired by Gene Jones, raised nearly $800,000 to benefit the Tower Center. Platinum sponsors for the event included Berry and SMU trustee Jeanne Tower Cox ’79, Kelli and SMU trustee Gerald J. Ford ’66, ’69, trustee Gene and Jerry Jones, and trustee Sarah ’83 and Ross Perot Jr. Guests at the Medal of Freedom event enjoyed a featured conversation between McCullough and his longtime friend, former U.S. Sen. Alan Simpson (R-WY).

The Tower Center, part of SMU’s Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, supports teaching and research programs in international and domestic politics with an emphasis on global studies and national security policy. It also educates undergraduates in international relations, comparative politics and political institutions.

Past Tower Center Medal of Freedom recipients include former Secretary of States James A. Baker III and Colin L. Powell; U.S. Senator John McCain; former British Prime Minister Tony Blair; and former Presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush, as well as former First Lady Laura Bush ’68.

McCullough also spoke to the SMU campus community at a question-and-answer session earlier in the day moderated by Tower Center Scholar Sara Jendrusch in the Hughes-Trigg Student Center Theater.

McCullough, who said he had “always been impressed with SMU,” quizzed his audience of SMU students, faculty and staff and expressed approval that taking history is an SMU graduation requirement. “I was stunned to learn that something like 80 percent of colleges these days don’t require it,” he said.

The historian said he has about 25 more book ideas he’d like to see in print. He credited much of his success to the editing skills of his wife, Rosalee, “my editor-in-chief for 50 years.” He spoke lovingly about the craft of writing and confessed that he still composes his work using technology now consigned to history for most people – a 1960s typewriter.

And history, McCullough said, is how you make life matter.

“It’s not a series of chronological events. It’s human,” McCullough said. “That’s why Jefferson wrote, ‘When in the course of human events …” in the Declaration of Independence.

In researching his many subjects, including U.S. presidents, McCullough said that one of the best ways to judge a person, especially a potential leader, is how he or she handles failure. “For some people who get knocked down, they whine and whimper and blame others,” McCullough said. “For others, they get up, assess what went wrong, then learn from it and move forward. How someone handles failure can tell a lot about his or her character.”

McCullough has twice won both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book award.” His 11 books include the Pulitzer-winners Truman (1993) and John Adams (2001), which has become one of the most widely read American biographies and spawned an HBO mini-series. His newest book, The Wright Brothers (Simon & Schuster, 2015), is a New York Times bestseller about aviators Wilbur and Orville Wright.

He has received the United States’ highest civilian award, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, for his “lifelong efforts to document the people, places and events that have shaped America.”

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Student Blog – Ryan Cross | Report on Dr. Andrew Wilson’s Lecture to the Tower Center Student Forum

Dr. Andrew Wilson delivered a lecture entitled “Civil-Military Relations in China and Implications for Foreign Policy” to the Tower Center Student Forum on September 17th, 2015. Dr. Wilson, an expert on the Chinese military and political systems, is the Phillip A Crowl Professor of Comparative Strategy at the U.S. Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island. He has taught at Harvard University and Wellesley College. Dr. Wilson has written numerous books and articles related to topics in Chinese history, including the country’s imperial and colonial periods, sea power, strategic theory, and Sun Tzu’s The Art of War.

After outlining the basic organization of the Chinese military, Dr. Wilson highlighted two structures within the Chinese military which warrant special attention: their coast guard and cyber-warfare divisions. Then, Wilson examined the expansion of these two components in recent history, with a particular emphasis on their increased use of espionage and modernization of communication methods. Furthermore, he established that the Chinese military is an “institution unto itself,” meaning that its lack of substantial civilian oversight makes it an unpredictable player on the Chinese political scene with enormous potential as an international player, both positive and negative.

By noting the independent nature of the military’s top leaders, Wilson defined the current status of the perennial power struggle between the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the civil leaders of the national government. Many scholars have noted this dynamic, including Andrew Nathan and Andrew Scobell in China’s Search for Security. They note, for example, that Chinese President and CCP General Secretary Hu Jintao said in a major 2004 speech that the military’s function is most importantly to provide “‘… an important guarantee of strength for the party to consolidate its ruling position’” (282). Evidently, the Chinese military’s role has primarily been a means to an end for the CCP since its creation.

Wilson noted the swift rise of the Chinese Coast Guard to international prominence due to its prevalent role in recent conflagrations over disputed islands. He addressed the relatively new phenomenon of the Chinese Coast Guard dredging reefs to create artificial islands containing airstrips and port facilities. This is the latest development within the lengthy history of Chinese quarrels over small, uninhabited islands in their periphery waters. These include disputed islands in the East China Sea also claimed by Japan and other territories in the South China Sea claimed by the Philippines and Vietnam. While typically spun by China’s leaders as a purely economic action to improve the sea-lanes with navigational aids, these island-building activities are seen by many of China’s neighbors as an attempt by the military to expand its physical footprint and, by extension, its combative capabilities should confrontation arise over said islands. Dr. Wilson clarified that although he does not expect any significant escalation of this disagreement in the near future, the Chinese game plan is obviously to preemptively bolster its military capabilities in the region, both as a ploy to intimidate its neighbors and as a contingency plan.

Alongside the Chinese Coast Guard, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Cyber-Warfare division is increasingly visible in current events. According to Dr. Wilson, cyber-warfare operatives are particularly threatening to U.S. interests because their position in the hierarchy of the PLA is unclear. When, for example, these groups recently hacked the websites of the Dalai Lama and the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, American analysts could not immediately ascertain who had direct oversight of these actions. Confounding their attempts to do so is the inherent divide between the CCP, which runs the military in practice, and the Chinese government, which nominally claims to do so. Moreover, the PLA is not overseen by civilians and has no functionary equivalent to the U.S. Secretary of Defense, meaning that the PLA’s cadre of leaders is a stand-alone entity that is separate from President Xi Jinping’s inner circle. After establishing the contrasts of the hierarchy of power of Chinese and U.S. military forces, Dr. Wilson concluded that Chinese cyber-warfare activities will continue to be carried out in a sporadic and disorganized fashion, owing to the messiness inherent in the division of power of the CCP and the conventional government.

In summation, Dr. Wilson’s lecture focused on the growth of two noteworthy components of the Chinese military: its coast guard and cyber-warfare functions. Though other divisions are similarly important, such as the PLA Navy (PLAN), scrutinizing these two divisions helps to illuminate the changing nature of the Chinese military. As such, Wilson drew on his expertise of maritime power and military development to compose a prediction for the future of U.S. – China relations. With the “pivot” of American foreign policy from the Middle East to Asia, China’s stature in international relations will undoubtedly increase. Wilson explained his misgivings about the practical capabilities of the Chinese military because the divide of power between the CCP and the government means that dual and conflicting messages concerning the direction of China’s forces are constantly being promoted. For China to cement its role as a world power, he contends, it must overcome this barrier by unifying its agenda and message across power structures.

crossRyan is a sophomore from Westport, Connecticut and is majoring in political science and international studies with minors in Spanish and history. At SMU, he is a member of the University Honors Program, the Hilltop New Century Scholars Program, the Career Development Ambassadors, and the Kappa Sigma Fraternity. Ryan plans to pursue a career with the U.S. government after graduation.

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SMU Junior, Kaitlyn Montan, Receives the Jack C. and Annette K. Vaughn Foreign Service and International Affairs Internship

HeadshotSMU student, Kaitlyn Montan, receives Tower Center’s 2016 Jack C. and Annette K. Vaughn Foreign Service and International Affairs Internship.

Kaitlyn Montan is from Flower Mound, Texas, and is majoring in Political Science and International Studies with a concentration in Middle East and Africa. Kaitlyn is the Residential Assistant for McElvaney, one of the Residential Commons on campus, and is the Hospitality Chair for the Student Leadership Council of SMU Catholic. She is also a member of the Robert Hyer Honor Society, SMU’s most prestigious undergraduate honor society.

Every academic year, the Tower Center offers one Foreign Service and International Affairs Internship which will allow a highly qualified SMU sophomore or junior student the opportunity to gain first hand knowledge of American foreign affairs. The selection process is based on merit and determined by an application and interview process. Additionally, students applying for the State Department Intern Program must meet the eligibility requirement of this program, which includes a background investigation necessary to obtain security clearance. Students selected by the Tower Center but not chosen by the State Department Intern Program will be placed in another international affairs center, government agency, or think tank in Washington, DC.

The past Vaughn Interns are:

  • Brandon Roselius, 2015 Vaughn Intern
  • Nayelly Dominguez, 2014 Vaughn Intern
  • Julien Teel, 2013 Vaughn Intern
  • Rahfin Faruk, 2013 Vaughn Intern

Learn more about the Tower Center student fellowships and scholarships:

Ray Rafidi | Associate Director for Administrative and Academic Affairs | | 214-768-3665

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Student Blog – Matthew Reitz | The Trans-Pacific Partnership: Implications beyond Economics

tpp.sepIn a recent New York Times article, Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter is quoted saying that the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is “as important as another aircraft carrier” to the US’s strategy in the Pacific. Secretary Carter is emphasizing the TPP as a crucial lynchpin to the pivot to Asia, but why? America’s pursuit of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) has been met with heavy domestic criticism yet TPP proponents argue its importance extends beyond economics. What makes the TPP important beyond economic matters in Asia and how does the agreement act as a lynchpin for the pivot to Asia? The Tower Center for Political Science Studies’ “The Trans-Pacific Partnership: Implications beyond Economics” featuring former Acting Assistant US Trade Representative for Japan, Korea, and APEC Affairs Michael L. Beeman.

According to Michael Beeman, the TPP is critical to the pivot to Asia due to economic trends within the region. Asian markets are growing and they’re pursuing free-trade. As the US debates the merits of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Pacific nations are flirting with the idea of the TPP or other agreements such as the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), a concept of the ASEAN +6 Agreement. Markets are being carved up in Asia and the US can either go with the trend or miss the boat. Asia will not wait for the US to decide between internationalism or isolationism, liberalizing markets is becoming the standard. Of course, anti-TPP sentiment in the US spearheaded by liberal politicians like Senator Elizabeth Warren or conservative groups like the Tea Party raises the question of what the TPP’s odds of passing through the US Congress are. The Korean-US Free Trade Agreement passed with large numbers while the recent passage of Trade Promotion Authority passed by a thin margin. Beeman however, states that it is too early to tell what the TPP’s odds are. While there is pessimism regarding trade in Congress, Congress has yet to see the final product and judge the TPP on its merits.

Of course, what does the TPP do for US posture in the Asia-Pacific? Passing the TPP would not only ensure greater economic growth for the US, but help complement the US’s relationship with many Pacific nations and ensure closer diplomatic and military relations. As Beeman states, the US views the TPP as a way of maintaining a multi-dimensional, active relationship with East Asia. “Trade agreements are trade agreements” according to Beeman. “The TPP will compliment military power in the region, not supplant it.” The economics of the TPP are the driving force of the agreement. It will, however, help facilitate closer relations between the US and the other TPP signees, and will ensure Pacific nations feel the US is committed to them. While Ashton Carter stated the TPP is as significant another aircraft carrier within the region, the TPP does not change the strategic calculus of military arrangements in the region. The US already maintains a heavy presence in the region with nations like the Republic of Korea, Japan and Taiwan hosting US air and naval bases. While ASEAN members like the Philippines and Malaysia do not maintain active US bases, the US military is increasingly more involved with ASEAN states in naval matters. Implementing the TPP will not override this current relationship dynamic, but it will certainly facilitate closer relations.

Another question the TPP negotiations raise is how other Pacific nations that are not party to the negotiations are viewing the agreement. Presently, regional powers like China and the Republic of Korea are watching the TPP with interest and there is the possibility they will join the agreement should it pass. Korea has sent delegates to the negotiations, while China believes RCEP will bleed into TPP and integrate markets. China initially opposed the creation of the TPP but now believes that there will be linkage between RCEP and TPP nations, which would allow China to expand its markets further. While Beeman states that the TPP will not lead to economic competition with China, it will however, force nations to make choices on whom gets preferential economic treatment. Having preferential economic treatment will significantly impact the US’s power in the region and this factor provides all the more reason for the US to not miss the window of opportunity the Trans-Pacific Partnership presents. A TPP with China on-board would bring China into closer relations with its Pacific neighbors and empower the internationalists within the Chinese Communist Party, while a non-TPP China would enable party-hardliners more control over Chinese foreign policy.

In summary, the TPP’s prime importance is for the US to have access to Asian markets, and to support the pivot to Asia. The US risks getting cut out of trade within the region as preferential economic agreements are drafted. Asian nations are looking to create an Asian trade bloc and the TPP represents the US’s entry point into the bloc. As Beeman states, the TPP, unlike RCEP, as an open platform allows for new countries to enter and expand the growth of an Asia-Pacific wide trade block. New countries can join the agreement and new issues can be tackled incrementally as more nations join, and US leadership in the TPP will advance US interests within the region. Were the TPP to fail to pass, the US’s economic growth will be stifled and the pivot to Asia will be put in jeopardy. The TPP region represents 40% of the world’s GDP and liberalizing international markets represents the new norm. The US cannot afford to walk away from something that will drive massive economic growth for both the US and for the many Pacific nations.

Matthew Reitz is from Colleyville, Texas and is majoring in political science and financial consulting. Matthew is in the University Honors program and the Mustang 11 spirit group. He is also a Hilltop Scholar and has served as an inaugural member of the Residential Commons Leadership Corps. He serves as the President of Cockrell-McIntosh Commons and is an active member of the Alpha Kappa Psi professional business fraternity. His key interest is researching and developing policy for US international affairs in the East-Asia region that correspond to US national security and economic interests. He plans to pursue a career in the US government after completing graduate school.

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SMU Tower Center, Latino Center for Leadership Development Create Strategic Policy Institute


DALLAS (SMU) – On the first day of National Hispanic Heritage Month, SMU’s John Goodwin Tower Center for Political Studies announced it has formed a strategic academic partnership with the Latino Center for Leadership Development (Latino CLD). The new Latino CLD-SMU Tower Center Policy Institute will identify and implement policy-focused solutions to the Latino community’s most pressing concerns, from educational and economic opportunities, to voting rights and immigration reform, to the under-representation of Latinos in elected and appointed roles at the federal, state and local levels, as well as corporate boards.

SMU-LCLD Sept152015_HJ

SMU’s John G. Tower Center for Political Studies and the Dallas-based Latino Center for Leadership Development (Latino CLD) announced a strategic new academic policy institute at SMU Sept. 15, the first day of National Hispanic Heritage Month. Speakers at the kickoff event were, from left, Thomas DiPiero, dean of SMU’s Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences; Jorge Baldor, Latino CLD founder and SMU alumnus (’93); Joshua Rovner, acting director of SMU’s Tower Center; and Miguel Solis, Latino CLD. [Photo Credit: Hillsman S. Jackson / SMU]

As part of this unique partnership, the Latino CLD will provide SMU’s Tower Center with $900,000 over five years. The funding will allow the new policy institute to attract and engage scholars and thought leaders in an interdisciplinary think-tank, creating a framework to analyze and develop policy priorities, provide public forums and outreach, and support greater understanding and influence for the Latino community.

“America is in the midst of a fundamental, Latino-driven demographic shift,” said Latino CLD founder and SMU alumnus Jorge Baldor ’93, citing Pew Research Center reports that Latinos will represent about 30 percent of the U.S. population by 2060. “With the growing number of Latinos comes a reciprocal responsibility to lead,” he said, adding, “Latino CLD is focused on developing the next generation of those leaders.” (For additional relevant data, see accompanying “Key Research Findings Underscore Need for Forward-Thinking Policy Planning Work.”)

“I’m pleased the Latino Center for Leadership Development and SMU are joining forces for a premier Latino policy institute. The research it produces will be an asset for policy makers, allowing for in-depth analysis and creation of policies that will improve the lives of people across Texas and throughout the nation.”

– Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings

The Latino CLD-SMU Tower Center Policy Institute will work in three major areas:

  • Provide influential voices and data to support research on policy issues
  • Offer two-year appointments for postdoctoral scholars who will research and publish their findings on public policy issues
  • Provide research grants and public seminars to promote stronger community understanding and dialogue about key societal issues

The relationship between the new SMU policy institute and Latino CLD also will allow promising leaders, such as those within the Latino CLD’s new Leadership Academy, “to develop as individuals and hone network skills necessary to assume positions of influence” while focused on policy and politics to help people from all spectrums of society, Baldor said.

“The Latino CLD-SMU Tower Center Policy Institute will provide an excellent opportunity to combine our expertise to focus on contemporary policy matters of major interest to this country’s diverse, growing Latino community,” said Joshua Rovner, director of studies at the Tower Center in SMU’s Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences.

“As a hub for social-scientific issues, we will play a major role in cutting through the cacophony of numbers related to the Latino community, letting us take big issues and quickly drill down to ideas for thoughtful solutions and policy implementation,” Rovner said.

The announcement of the new policy institute follows on the heels of the Tower Center’s Sept. 8 launch of its new Texas-Mexico Program during Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s historic visit to Mexico.

“SMU is becoming a major presence in Latino-focused research and education,” said Thomas DiPiero, dean of Dedman College. “It’s also a propitious moment to bring new expertise and scholarship to bear both nationally and locally,” he said, noting that the Dallas-Fort Worth region, with 7 million people, is the nation’s fourth-largest population center, and growing rapidly.

“Looking ahead, the success of this institute will allow SMU and the Latino CLD to contribute vital public policy research while based in DFW — a U.S. political and economic center of gravity with strong global connections,” DiPiero said.

# # #

SMU is a nationally ranked private university in Dallas founded 100 years ago. Today, SMU enrolls approximately 11,000 students who benefit from the academic opportunities and international reach of seven degree-granting schools.

In the spirit of John Tower’s commitment to educate and inspire a new generation of thoughtful leaders, the Tower Center seeks to bridge the gap between the world of ideas, scholarship and teaching, as well as the practice of politics. The primary mission of the Tower Center is to promote the study of politics and international affairs and to stimulate an interest in ethical public service among undergraduates. The Tower Center is an academic center where all parties and views are heard in a marketplace of ideas, and the Center pursues its mission in a non-partisan manner.

Latino CLD is a privately funded foundation with a vision of developing future leaders with an understanding of Latino-focused policies and actionable items for solutions resulting from such partnerships as the Latino CLD–SMU Tower Center Policy Institute.

The three pillars of Latino CLD involve the annual Leadership Academy, which brings together national future leaders; a policy institute; and ongoing strategic initiatives to address critical current topics, including, which led bi-partisan efforts to preserve in-state tuition at Texas universities for all of the state’s residents.

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SMU Tower Center launches unique research program for policy-based analysis of Texas-Mexico relationship

SMU Tower Center launches unique research program for policy-based analysis of Texas-Mexico relationship

Program announced during Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s historic visit to Mexico

September 8, 2015

DALLAS (SMU) – SMU’s John Goodwin Tower Center for Political Studies is launching an ambitious new program to research and promote policy-based discussion on the economic, political and social ties between Mexico and Texas.

Texas-Mexico Map courtesy of Hispanically Speaking News
Map courtesy of Hispanically Speaking News

Related Link:

The program is made possible through a $1 million gift from GRUMA-Mission Foods, a Mexican corporation with global reach headquartered in Dallas.  The program is designed to elevate the frequently fractured conversations about and between Texas and Mexico, creating a platform that examines shared issues through a policy lens. Plans include:

  • Texas-Mexico research, grants, reports and white papers
  • Binational and bilingual annual conferences
  • Academic seminars and public forums

“SMU and our home city of Dallas are uniquely situated for this kind of study,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “We have the academic resources to bring clarity to issues that are frequently viewed as singular challenges rather than pieces of a puzzle connected by laws, economic factors and social patterns that may go back for generations.   This is a tremendous opportunity for SMU and for Texas.”

Dallas is at the geographic crossroads of the increasingly integrated market amplified by the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) between the United States, Mexico and Canada. The city also is home to the greatest concentration of Fortune 100 companies in the United States outside of New York City. Texas exported to Mexico goods valued at more than $102 million in 2014, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce, and imported from Mexico goods valued at over $90 million for the same period.

“Economics, energy, migration, culture, human capital, internet technology and cyber security are obvious topics for study, but the door is open,” said Juan Antonio González Moreno, Chairman and CEO of GRUMA. “We found in this program a tremendous opportunity to build a foundation for what should become the primary think tank on Texas-Mexico relations.” The list of potential topics is open to almost anything that impacts the relationship between Texas and Mexico.

Supporting the program is important to GRUMA-Mission Foods, González Moreno said, because, being a leading food company with over $2 billion in sales in the United States, it wishes to contribute to a better understanding between the two countries. He perceives that people of Mexican descent are more integrated into society in Texas than in other border states, and believes that analyzing those success stories in Texas might help Mexicans and Mexican-Americans in other U.S. states to integrate more fully into the economy and society.

“This is, to one extent, an opportunity to show our appreciation to Texas,” González Moreno said.  “We are proud to have our name associated with this prestigious University. “

The gift from GRUMA-Mission Foods to the Texas-Mexico Program counts toward the $1 billion goal of SMU Unbridled: The Second Century Campaign. To date the campaign has raised more than $987 million in gifts and pledges to support student quality, faculty and academic excellence, and the campus experience.  The campaign coincides with SMU’s celebration of the 100th anniversary of the University’s founding in 1911 and its opening in 1915.

“Obviously, there’s been a great deal of friction in Texas-Mexico relations over the last 10 to 15 years,” said Joshua Rovner, Director of Studies at SMU’s Tower Center. “At the government level there’s been an effort to improve relations, but from an academic standpoint, we want to understand that relationship.”

Rovner said the greatest opportunity for the Tower Center’s Texas-Mexico Research Program may lie in cutting through the noise that surrounds issues influencing the Texas-Mexico conversation.

“There is this great cacophony all the time – not only the number of speakers, but the number of issues can make your head spin, “ Rovner said. “The Tower Center is a place where you can bring in the best people available and actually have civil conversations about these policy issues.  We invite all voices to the table.”

“We will be celebrating the 100th birthday of the opening of SMU on Sept. 25,” said Brad Cheves, SMU Vice President for Development and External Affairs.  “It is particularly gratifying to be able to announce a program with the potential to improve future relations between Texas and Mexico as we begin our next century.”

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John A. Booth, Associate

  • Academic Lectures, Conference Presentations, and Speaking Engagements
    • “Political and economic policies that affect economic development in Northern Central America,” U.S. Department of State conference, Washington DC, April 13, 2015.

Karisa Cloward, Associate

  • Papers and Publications
  • Academic Lectures, Conference Presentations, and Speaking Engagements
    • “The NGO Life Cycle: Organizational Birth and Death in the Kenyan Development Sector” The annual meeting of the International Studies Association, New Orleans, LA, February 21, 2015.
    • Dedman College Interdisciplinary Institute Fellows Seminar, Co-organizer, “Global Africa: Between Intervention and Engagement” 2014-2015.

Christopher Jenks, Associate

Robert Jordan, Senior Fellow

Carolyn Smith-Morris, Associate

  • Papers and Publications
    • Husain, Saira and Carolyn Smith-Morris.  “Diapers in War Zones: Ethnomedical Factors in Acute Childhood Gastroenteritis in Peshawar, Pakistan”. PLoS One. Online, March 13, 2015.

Hiroki Takeuchi, Senior Fellow

Jenia Iontcheva Turner, Associate

  • Papers and Publications
    • The Exclusionary Rule as a Symbol of the Rule of Law, 67 SMU L. REV. 821 (2014) (contribution to Rule of Law symposium issue).
    • Foreword, The 2014 SMU Criminal Justice Colloquium, 67 SMU L. REV. 489 (2014) (with Meghan Ryan) (contribution to Criminal Justice symposium issue).
    • Interstate Conflict and Cooperation in Criminal Cases: An American Perspective, 4 EUR. CRIM. L. REV. 114 (2014) (peer review).
  • Academic Lectures, Conference Presentations, and Speaking Engagements
    • “Pre-Plea Disclosure in Germany and the United States”, Willamette University College of Law, Salem, OR, Apr. 27, 2015.
    • “Pre-Plea Disclosure in Germany and the United States”, William & Mary Law Review Symposium, Williamsburg, VA, Feb. 21, 2015.
    • “Pre-Plea Discovery in Criminal Cases: A Tale of Two States”, AALS Annual Meeting, Washington, D.C., Jan. 4, 2015 (based on paper co-authored with Allison Redlich).
  • Awards
    • Sam Taylor Fellowship from the United Methodist General Board of Higher Education and Ministry in support of project (with Allison Redlich, University of Albany) to survey prosecutors and defense attorneys about their pre-plea discovery practices.
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Open Position | Post-doctoral Teaching Fellowship


The Tower Center for Political Studies invites applications for a non-tenure track post-doctoral teaching fellowship in immigration, immigrant policy, and Latino politics. Proficiency in Spanish is desirable. The fellow will be based in the Tower Center and will work closely with the Latino Center for Leadership Development’s Policy Institute. The Tower Center is an interdisciplinary center in SMU’s Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences sponsoring programs in public and international affairs. The Latino Center for Leadership Development’s Policy Institute covers a broad range of issues important to the Latino community, including education, economic development, voting rights and participation, immigration, poverty, urban planning, and transportation.

The post-doctoral teaching fellow position is a one year appointment to begin in January, 2016 and it is renewable for an additional year and a half (until May, 2017). It carries a 1×1 teaching load. Classes are small and expectations are high in both teaching and research. We welcome applicants with backgrounds in political science, public policy, sociology, history, anthropology and other cognate fields. The successful candidate may, depending upon expertise, offer courses relevant to interdisciplinary programs. Salary, benefits, and research support are competitive.

Southern Methodist University is a comprehensive university of 11,000 undergraduate and graduate students located on a beautiful urban campus just north of downtown Dallas. SMU is an equal opportunity employer. Applicants should email a letter of application, curriculum vitae, evidence of teaching effectiveness, a writing sample, and three letters of recommendation to:

Prof. Joshua Rovner, Interim Director,
John G. Tower Center for Political Studies

Review of applications will begin September 15, 2015, but the search will remain open until the position is filled. All letters will be acknowledged. SMU will not discriminate on the basis of ethnicity, national origin, gender, disability, or veteran status. Hiring is contingent upon the satisfactory completion of a background check.

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