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McSwain-Walker Lecture

The annual McSwain-Walker lecture brings renowned scholars, artists, analysts and other notable public figures to William & Mary to speak on topics related to how other countries and cultures interact with the United States, and how the United States interacts with them.

Past lecturers include:

List of previous speakers
Jessica Nabongo

Nabongo is a writer, photographer, entrepreneur, travel expert, influencer and public speaker.  She completed her journey as the first Black woman on record to travel to all 195 U.N.-recognized countries of the world in October of 2019. At her core, she is a dreamer looking to craft a life and career that connects her passions and talents. She wants to use her story to educate and inspire others to travel and experience the world around them. 

A first-generation American, Nabongo was born and raised in Detroit by Ugandan parents. She attended St. John’s University in New York where she earned a degree in English Literature, later completing a graduate degree in Development Studies at the London School of Economics. She uses her blog, “The Catch Me If You Can,” to share her travel adventures and build a global community. She is also the founder of the lifestyle brand The Catch. 

Viet Thanh Nguyen

Viet Thanh Nguyen’s novel The Sympathizer won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and numerous other awards. His most recent publication is the sequel to The SympathizerThe Committed. His other books are a short story collection, The RefugeesNothing Ever Dies: Vietnam and the Memory of War (a finalist for the National Book Award in nonfiction and the National Book Critics Circle Award in General Nonfiction); and Race and Resistance: Literature and Politics in Asian America. He has also published Chicken of the Sea, a children’s book written in collaboration with his six-year-old son, Ellison. He is a university professor: the Aerol Arnold Chair of English, and a Professor of English, American Studies and Ethnicity, and Comparative Literature at the University of Southern California. A recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim and MacArthur Foundations, he is also the editor of The Displaced: Refugee Writers on Refugee Lives.

Haben Girma

The first Deafblind person to graduate from Harvard Law School, Haben Girma advocates for equal opportunities for people with disabilities. President Obama named her a White House Champion of Change. She received the Helen Keller Achievement Award, and a spot on the Forbes 30 Under 30 list. President Bill Clinton, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and Chancellor Angela Merkel have all honored Haben. Haben believes disability is an opportunity for innovation. She travels the world teaching the benefits of choosing inclusion.  She’s also the author of the highly acclaimed book, Haben: The Deafblind Woman Who Conquered Harvard Law, a testament to Haben's determination to resist isolation and find the keys to connection.

Haben was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she currently lives. Her memoir takes readers on adventures around the world, including her parents’ homes in Eritrea and Ethiopia, building a school under the scorching Saharan sun in Mali, training with a guide dog in New Jersey, climbing an iceberg in Alaska, fighting for blind readers at a courthouse in Vermont, and talking with President Obama at The White House. 

Ambassador Karin Olofsdotter

Her Excellency Karin Olofsdotter took up her post as Ambassador of Sweden to the United States on September 1, 2017.

Ambassador Olofsdotterhas long been a strong advocate for Swedish trade and diplomatic relations with the United States. Trade and economic growth remain top priorities for the Ambassador, along with defense cooperation, public diplomacy, and strong collaboration with the international community.

H.E. Olofsdotter brings extensive experience in trade promotion to her current post. Prior to assuming the role as Ambassador, she served as Director-General for Trade at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs. Ambassador Olofsdotter has also held the position of Deputy Director-General and Head of the Department for Promotion of Sweden, Trade and CSR.

Ambassador Olofsdotter is also an accomplished diplomat. Her career in the Foreign Service started in 1994 with her first posting to the Embassy of Sweden in Moscow. In the years following, she worked in security policy and defense issues as well as in numerous leadership posts within the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, including serving as Chief of Staff for several of its Ministers.

H.E. Olofsdotter has served as part of the Swedish delegation to NATO as well as at the Swedish EU Representation in Brussels, working with European security policy and defense issues.

H.E. Olofsdotter has a strong affection for the United States, having lived, studied, and worked in different parts of the country: first as a high school exchange student, later, while at the UCLA Anderson School of Management, and again during her different diplomatic postings to the country.

Ambassador Olofsdotter has a B.A. in psychology, economics and Russian. She studied at UCLA Anderson School of Management and speaks Russian, French and English. She is married and has a son and a daughter.

Brian D. Taylor

Brian Taylor is a professor of political science at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. Taylor's geographic area of specialization is Russia and the post-Soviet region. His book The Code of Putinism, examines how Putin has shaped Russia for the past 20 years.

Additionally, Dr. Taylor is the author of State Building in Putin's Russia: Policing and Coercion After Communism and Politics and the Russian Army: Civil-Military Relations, 1689-2000.

Taylor's research focuses on the role of state coercive organizations, such as the military and the police, in domestic politics. Additional interests include comparative state-building and civil-military relations. 

Taylor received his B.A. in Political Science with Honors and Highest Distinction from the University of Iowa; an M.Sc. with Distinction in the Politics and Government of Russia and the Soviet Union from the London School of Economics and Political Science; and his Ph.D. in Political Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Lecture: "A New Cold War? Putin, Putinism and U.S.-Russian Relations"

Mirawan "Boom" Mosby

Boom Mosby is the founder and director of HUG Project ThailandMosby is the first Thai woman to receive the U.S. State Department’s Trafficking In Persons (TIP) Hero Award (2017), and accepted a Vital Voices Global Leadership Award for Human Rights, in 2018. The HUG Project Thailand works to prevent, protect, and restore child victims of sexual abuse and human trafficking. As an official advisor and active member of TICAC (Thailand Internet Crimes Against Children), Mosby specializes in combating internet-facilitated sexual crimes against children. 
Lecture: “The Heart of Justice: Combating Child-Trafficking”

Ambassador Shari Villarosa J.D. '79 

Shari Villarosa was confirmed as Ambassador to the Republic of Mauritius and the Republic of Seychelles in September 2012 and held that position until 2016. Before her appointment, she served as Deputy Coordinator for Regional Affairs for the Bureau of Counterterrorism of the Department of State. She previously served as Chief of Mission in Rangoon, Burma and Dili, East Timor. She also served in a variety of other positions in the Department of State and US Embassies in Indonesia, Brazil, Thailand, Ecuador and Colombia. (Bio of Ambassador Villarosa)
Lecture: "How Today's Youth are Engaging Globally"

Timothy R. Heath ’94 

Timothy Heath is a senior international defense research analyst at the RAND Corporation and member of the Pardee RAND Graduate School faculty. Prior to joining RAND in October 2014, he served as the senior analyst for the USPACOM China Strategic Focus Group for five years. He worked for more than 16 years on the strategic, operational, and tactical levels in the U.S. military and government, specializing on China, Asia, and security topics.
"China-US Relations: Implications of Beijing’s Pursuit of International Leadership"

Charles Kurzman

Professor of Sociology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and co-director of the Carolina Center for the Study of the Middle East and Muslim Civilizations. Author of The Missing Martyrs (2011), Democracy Denied, 1905-1915 (2008), and The Unthinkable Revolution in Iran (2004), and editor of the anthologies Liberal Islam (1998) and Modernist Islam, 1840-1940 (2002).
Lecture: “Islam and the West: The Myth of Ancient Animosities”

M. Steven Fish

Professor of Political Science, University of California, Berkeley. Author of Are Muslims Distinctive? A look at the Evidence; Democracy Derailed in Russia: The Failure of Open Politics, which was the recipient of the Best Book Award of 2006, presented by the Comparative Democratization Section of the American Political Science Association; and Democracy from Scratch: Opposition and Regime in the New Russian Revolution
Lecture: “Putinism's Challenge to Democracy”

Rudra Sil

Professor of Political Science and Co-Director, Huntsman Program in International Studies and Business, University of Pennsylvania. Author of Managing “Modernity”: Work, Community, and Authority in Late-Industrializing Japan and Russia, and co-author of Beyond Paradigms: Analytic Eclecticism in the Study of World Politics, among other works.
Lecture: “When More is Less: Is the Global Diffusion of Social Media Clouding Our Vision of World Affairs?”

Vladislav Zubok

Professor of History, Temple University. Director of the Advanced Training Program for Russia funded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York. Advisor and consultant to The Dmitry S. Likhachev Foundation in St. Petersburg, Russia. Author of A Failed Empire: the Soviet Union in the Cold War from Stalin to Gorbachev and Zhivago’s Children: The Last Russian Intelligentsia.
Lecture: “Did the U.S. Lose Russia? America and Russia as the Reciprocal ‘Other’”

Christopher A. Preble

Vice president for defense and foreign policy studies at the Cato Institute, a public policy research organization dedicated to individual liberty, limited government, free markets and peace. Author of The Power Problem: How American Military Dominance Makes Us Less Safe, Less Prosperous and Less Free, among other works. Formerly a commissioned officer in the United States Navy.
Lecture: "U.S. and Japanese Relations"

Montgomery McFate

Cultural anthropologist, defense and national security analyst, and former Senior Science Advisor for the U.S. Army’s Human Terrain System. Previously, a social scientist in RAND’s Intelligence Policy Center. Recipient of a Distinguished Public Service Award from the Secretary of the United States Navy during work at the Office of Naval Research. As of 2011, Dr. McFate holds the Minerva Chair (Strategic Research) at the U.S. Naval War College.
Lecture: "Why Does the Military Care About Culture?”

Adam Shapiro

Filmmaker and organizer with the International Solidarity Movement.
Film screening of Darfur: Documenting and Confronting Genocide

Guillermo Gómez-Peña

World renowned performance artist and founding member of San Francisco-based radical arts collective and non-profit organization La Pocha Nostra. As of 2013, a McArthur Fellow, American Book Award winner, contributor to National Public Radio, contributing editor to The Drama Review (NYU-MIT) and active member of the Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics.
Performative lecture: "The Mexorcist”

Orlando Rojas

Cuban filmmaker. Since 1994, Rojas has taught screenwriting workshops at the International Film and Television School in San Antonio, and in several Mexican and Brazilian universities. Past recipient of a Berliner Künsterprogramm Fellowship and a Guggenheim Fellowship to develop film projects.
Screening of award-winning film Stolen Verses about the Chilean poet, Pablo Neruda.

Moon Chung-In

Professor of Political Science, Yonsei University, Republic of Korea. Former Dean of the Graduate School of International Studies at Yonsei University, Ambassador for International Security Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Republic of Korea. Past President of the Korea Peace Research Association and Editor-in-Chief of Global Asia, a Seoul-based magazine. Author of The Sunshine Policy: In Defense of Engagement as a Path to Peace in Korea.
Lecture: “Cross-Cultural Understanding and Foreign Policy: Lessons from the Non-Western World”

Harriet Mayor Fulbright

Former Executive Director of the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities under President Bill Clinton. As of 2013, President of the J. William and Harriet Fulbright Center, dedicated to spreading the recognition of the Fulbright legacy, globalizing education, and promoting world peace and nonviolent means of resolving conflicts through international collaborations and education programs, and of the Harriet Fulbright College in Washington, D.C.