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Missouri College Students Meet with McCaskill

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill last week met with a number of Missouri college student groups as they visited Washington, D.C. to discuss their studies, the importance of getting young people involved in public service, and efforts to make college more affordable.

Click HERE for more photos from McCaskill’s meetings with Missouri students.

“Meeting such talented and passionate Missouri students gives me great hope for the future of our state and the country,” said McCaskill, a graduate of the University of Missouri. “Students like these are the perfect example of the importance of a quality, affordable education, and I’ll continue to fight for that opportunity for all Missouri students.”

McCaskill spoke to McDonnell Academy Scholars from Washington University in St. Louis, which was established in 2005 to bring together top scholars from across the globe to Washington University to pursue a world-class education and research while forging a strong network with one another. She also met with a group of students and faculty members from Washington University’s Brown School of Social Work to discuss the importance of youth involvement in public policy. Additionally, McCaskill, a former Jackson County prosecutor, met with a group of students studying criminology from Missouri State University who are in Washington to learn more about the criminal justice system.

McCaskill has been a longtime advocate for Missouri students and fighting to make college more affordable. After receiving input from constituents on her College Affordability Tour of Missouri last year, McCaskill backed the Year Round Pell Grant Restoration Act to restore year-round Pell Grant resources for low-income college students to use towards summer courses. After pressure by McCaskill, the Department of Education announced last year that it will begin a loan counseling experiment and has released a new college completion toolkit which would include programs to have student borrowers complete personalized debt calculators as part of their entrance counseling.

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Article published in the journal Anabasis


Congratulations to Nikolaus Overtoom, instructor in the history department, on his recent publication, “The Rivalry of Rome and Parthia in the Sources from the Augustan Age to Late Antiquity.”  Anabasis, Studia Classica et Orientalia 7 (2016): 137-174.

This article examines the longstanding rivalry of Rome and Parthia, which began as an unintended consequence of Crassus’ decisive defeat at Carrhae in 53 BCE. It synthesizes the accounts and opinions of numerous Graeco-Roman writers from the Augustan Age to late antiquity in order to help illustrate the new and interconnected post-Carrhae world and its legacy. The rivalry of the Romans and Parthians became a primary focus of their foreign policies and drastically expanded their perceptions of the world in which they interacted. Even after the fall of the Parthians to the rebellious Sassanid Persians in the 220s CE, the Romans continued to find their three-century-long rivalry with the Parthians of interest and relevant to the changing world of late antiquity.

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Meeting with former President Ma of Republic of China (Taiwan)

Dennis Hickey, Distinguished Professor of Political Science and Director of the Graduate Program in Global Studies, met with President Ma Ying-Jeou, former President of the Republic of China on Taiwan (2008-2016) for much of the morning on March 16. During his 8 years in office, President Ma reduced tensions with mainland China to the lowest level since the two sides were split by the Chinese Civil War in 1949. Topics discussed ranged from President Ma’s historic summit with President Xi of the People’s Republic of China in 2015  to the current disputes in the East China Sea and South China Sea. And he even managed to get President Ma to pose with a MSU t-shirt presented to him as a gift. He promised to wear it when jogging!



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When Eagles Become Angels

Four U.S. Army 1st Infantry Division Soldiers are awarded The Air Medal for Valor during a Nov. 3, 2016, helicopter medical evacuation of U.S. and Afghan wounded Soldiers during a fire fire in Kunduz, Afghanistan. All assigned to the 2nd General Support Aviation Battalion, 1st Aviation Regiment, 1st Combat Aviation Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, based at Fort Riley, Kansas. Capt. Trevor P. Joseph, from Collierville, Tennessee 1st. Lt. Aaron P. Cruz, from Waynesville, Missouri Sgt. Loran M. Lott, from Denham Springs, Louisiana Spc. Samuel E. Perez, from Columbus, Georgia



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Model UN Class and Club at Midwest Conference in St. Louis

Twenty-eight students from the PLS 333, Model UN, class represented Ukraine and Uruguay and the MSU Model UN club represented Brazil and Venezuela attended the 57th Annual Midwest Model United Nations conference.



Missouri State University students won six awards.

From left to right, Mitch Truelove won honorable mention for outstanding delegate award as Ukraine in Security Council North. Claire Kidwell won honorable mention and delegate’s choice for outstanding delegate award as Venezuela in Security Council South. She also won honorable mention for outstanding position paper for Venezuela on the Security Council South. Liz Frazier won outstanding position paper award for Brazil in the UN High Commission for Refugees. Eric Weiler won honorable mention for outstanding position paper for Brazil on the Economic and Social Council. Jaren Newman and Madeline Graham won honorable mention for outstanding delegate award as Ukraine on General Assembly Sixth Committee.

Even meals are educational!

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Jan Vansina: The Iroko Has Fallen

This is to inform all that Jan Vansina, the MacArthur Fellow and Vilas Research Professor Emeritus in History and Anthropology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, has passed away. Jan died this week after a protracted battle with cancer. He was just 87.

Jan was born in Antwerp, Belgium on September 14, 1929 to Dirk and Suzanne Vansina. Caught up in the uncertainty of the Second World War, Jan and his parents migrated to Bruges and later to Leuven where Jan enrolled at the Catholic University of Leuven to earn a degree in medicine. His experiences both in Bruges and Leuven were captured in his memoir: Through the Day, Through the Night: A Flemish Belgian Boyhood and World War II (2014). Jan dumped medicine and transferred to the Law program, while taking History, as a minor at Catholic University of Leuven. He graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in History and Law.

After completing his graduate studies in Medieval History in 1952, Jan accepted a job with the Institute for Research for Central Africa (IRSAC) where, in conjunction with the University College, London, he trained, as a Research Anthropologist. This position not only changed his life, but also changed the trajectory of his career. He was assigned to Central Africa with the Bakuba. This was at the dying days of European colonial rule in (Central) Africa. Jan watched helplessly as European scholars, administrators and Christian missionaries denied the existence of an Africa history. Having used medieval dirges as raw historical material in his law program, Jan recognized oral traditions everywhere he turned in Africa. Convinced of the possibility of using oral traditions as sources of dependable historical information, he began collecting them, as materials for his doctoral research, which he completed in 1957.

Jan’s main contribution to African Studies lies in the use of oral tradition to historiography and methodologies of African Studies. His works straddled not just Anthropology and History, but also Sociology, Literature, and a broad spectrum of disciplines in the Humanities and Social Sciences. It was also in the course of his fieldwork in Central Africa that he met his wife, Claudine Herman, a Rwandan.

Phillip Curtin invited Jan to the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1960 to build a program in Comparative Tropical History. He remained at the University of Wisconsin-Madison for the rest of his academic career. At Wisconsin-Madison, Jan established himself as an academic authority on the full range of central African history, publishing a total of 15 books and 160 articles. Among his most distinguished works are Oral Tradition: A Study in Historical Methodology (1965); Oral Tradition as History (1985); Living With Africa (1994); Kingdoms of the Savannah (1966), Paths in the Rainforests (1990); Antecedents to Modern Rwanda (2004); Being Colonized: The Kuba Experience in Rural Congo, 1880-1960 (2010); and Through the Day, Through the Night: A Flemish Belgian Boyhood and World War II (2014).

In 1981, Jan was appointed as a central member of the editorial committee of the 8 volume UNESCO General History of Africa. He served in this position between 1981 and 1993. The African Studies Association awarded Jan the Distinguished Africanist Award in 1986. The American Historical Association awarded him the Award for Scholarly Distinction in 2000 and the the American Philosophical Society elected him as a member for his over 50 years’ work in the Social Sciences.

Jan Vansina who retired from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1994 as a MacArthur Fellow and Vilas Research Professor in History and Anthropology was survived by Claudine, his wife, and Bruno, his son.


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Department Saddened by the Passing of Professor Bert Helm








After receiving his Ph.D. in Philosophy from Tulane University, Bert Helm came to Missouri State University in 1966. Although the Political Science and Philosophy departments separated in the late 1980s, Bert had a tremendous impact on our majors over the course of his forty-year career.

Reflecting on Emerson and education in 1992, Bert wrote that “we shall find nothing very much like the quiet and deliberate Sage of Concord.” A fitting epitaph for our long-time colleague, Professor Bertrand P. Helm.

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