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Global Challenges and Local Responses: Case Studies

On Friday, April 16 at noon, five experts from the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences will present case studies of their local work on globally significant issues such as refugee asylum, COVID-19, racism, antisemitism and disaster relief.

This is part of an interdisciplinary effort at the Eberly College that will explore how to handle global challenges in general and how to respond to them at national, regional, state, city and local levels.

Presenters and topics

About the speakers

Robert Blobaum

Robert Blobaum is Eberly Family Distinguished Professor in the Department of History at West Virginia University. He specializes broadly in the social, political and cultural history of Poland in the first decades of the twentieth century. His most recent book is A Minor Apocalpyse: Warsaw during the First World War (2017). He is also the editor of Antisemitism and Its Opponents in Modern Poland (2005), and author of Rewolucja: Russian Poland, 1904–1907 (1995) and Feliks Dzierżyński and the SDKPiL: A Study of the Origins of Polish Communism (1984). He has served on the executive boards of the Association for Slavic, East European and American Studies and the Polish Studies Association, and is currently the president of the Polish Institute of Arts and Sciences of America. A past recipient of the Oskar Halecki Prize for the best book in Polish history (for Rewolucja), Blobaum is a multiple Fulbright grant recipient and his research has also been supported by the International Research and Exchanges Board, the American Council of Learned Societies, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the National Council for Eurasian and East European Research. He is currently engaged in micro-historical research on the Polish-Jewish small town of Wyszkow in the first half of the twentieth century.

Cynthia Gorman

Cynthia S. Gorman is Assistant Professor of Geography at West Virginia University. Cynthia’s research examines changes in state governance in relation to global migration, international and national legal regimes and transnational women’s rights campaigns. Her doctoral work examined the development of gender-based asylum in the U.S. and the role of feminist lawyering in this expansion of U.S. refugee-asylum law. Her work analyzed how logics of border and immigration control shape legal recognition gender-based violence, highlighting both the promise and paradox of securing state protection for female victims of human rights violations. More recent work focuses on how forced displacement from Central America has shaped the evolution of U.S. asylum standards. Cynthia’s current research examines the politics of refugee resettlement in Appalachia. With funding from the West Virginia Humanities Council and the West Virginia University Humanities Center, this includes a project on labor migration in rural communities with meatpacking industries and community responses to border enforcement events, such as workplace raids.

Kity Pirie

Kathryn “Kitty” Pirie is currently pursuing a Master of Public Administration with an emphasis in Healthcare Administration at West Virginia University. She is a member of Pi Alpha Alpha Honor Society and is interested in healthcare policy. Because she has lived and trained in several other countries, she is particularly interested in learning from other countries’ healthcare systems and creating healthcare reform to improve the lives of West Virginians. She is a summa cum laude graduate of West Virginia University with a BS in Psychology and minor in German. She also holds a MSc in Physiotherapy (Physical Therapy) from the Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen, Scotland.

Herschel Thomas

Herschel F. Thomas is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at West Virginia University. He completed his Ph.D. at the University of Texas at Austin in 2015 and was an Assistant Professor of political science at the University of Texas at Arlington from 2015-2020. He specializes in public policy with research on interest groups, lobbying, agenda-setting, and public health. His research has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics, the Dirksen Congressional Center, and the UT-Arlington College of Liberal Arts (C2C Program). He has published in the American Journal of Public Health, Policy Studies Journal, Public Administration, Political Research Quarterly, Interest Groups & Advocacy, Politics & Gender, Cognitive Systems Research, and PS: Political Science and Politics. His recent book (with Timothy LaPira), Revolving Door Lobbying, provides a comprehensive analysis of former government officials working as lobbyists in Washington and was published by the University Press of Kansas in 2017. He teaches courses on interest groups and advocacy, research design, agenda-setting, public policy analysis, policy implementation, and public administration. At the University of Texas at Arlington, in 2019, He received the President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching.

Paolo Davide Farah

Event moderator: Paolo Davide Farah is an associate professor at WVU in the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences in the Department of Public Administration, part of the John D. Rockefeller IV School of Policy and Politics, and an adjunct associate professor of geography. He was an international consultant and legal advisor for projects implemented for the United Nations Development Program, for the Italian Ministry of Economic Development and Commerce and for the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. He has previously worked at the Legal Affairs Division of the World Trade Organization in Geneva and for Baker & McKenzie International Law Firm. He is an elected board member of the European Society of International Law, chair of the ESIL Interest Group on International Environmental Law, chair of the American Society of International Law Interest Group on International Environmental Law and vice-chair of the American Society of International Law Interest Group on International Law and Technology. Farah is also an appointed member of the International Law Association’s ILA Committees on Sustainable Development and the Green Economy in International Trade Law and ILA Committee on Role of International Law in Sustainable Natural Resource Management for Development. Farah has more than 50 peer-reviewed articles or book chapters and U.S. law review articles, nine books and six journal special issues published or forthcoming, and he has presented his work to more than 140 international conferences and workshops.