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2016 Summer Teacher Workshop

August 19, 2016

This year’s Summer Teacher Workshop hosted by the Center for West European Studies, the Ellison Center for Russian, East European, and Central Asian Studies, and the Center for Global Studies was a success. With a full house that included a waiting list, the 24 attendees represented a wide range of academics including a UW ROTC instructor, several local community college instructors, and middle and high school teachers from all over the state.


Ryan Hauck, the Director of the World Affairs Council’s “Global Classroom” program and teacher at Glacier Peak High School, led the first and last sessions of the day, going over various techniques to facilitate student learning of the material presented throughout the day.

Paul Neville, the City of Seattle’s Director of International Affairs, gave a presentation on how Seattle works to promote inclusion and counteract xenaphobia — he reported that 1:5 Seattleites speak a language other than English at home, and that over 150 different languages are spoken in Seattle.


UW Sociology Professor Steve Pfaff‘s talk entitled “Neo-National Parties in Europe” looked at how radical-right political movements in Europe have transformed over the last several decades.




Taso Lagos
, Jackson School of International Studies, gave a lecture on the trajectory of Greek politics from the Ottoman Empire to today. During his talk, the group explored several questions including “what explains the rise of neo-Nazi groups in a country that was once devastated by the Nazis in WWII?” Teachers were asked to participate and dive deep into their understandings of why populism is on the rise in Greece.



James Felak, History, lectured on populist and and radical-right groups in East Central Europe. Prof. Felak delved into the historical development of several political groups and movements, including the Law and Justice Party in Poland, and the FIDESZ and Jobbik parties of Hungary.


Michelle O’Brien, PhD Candidate in Sociology, gave a talk on the rise of neo-nationalists in Russia and the electoral success of Putin. O’Brien’s talk brought to light some interesting relationships within Russia, such as that between a biker gang known as the “Night Wolves” and Putin. She also emphasized the importance of films in instruction, highlighting the film “Putin’s Kiss” as an example that could be used in a classroom setting.


Phil Shekleton, a Lecturer in the Foster School of Business, spoke on the potential ramifications of “Brexit.” Shekleton dove into some of the demographic facts behind Brexit, explored some of the potential financial consequences for Britain, and discussed how the EU and Britain may find a way forward.


To wrap up the workshop, teachers were asked to think of ways in which they could incorporate the topics into their core classes. They came up with creative solutions like analyzing the use of social media in countries where populism was on the rise to compare and contrast to US movements. Attendees left energized and excited to incorporate the topics into their classrooms. One attendee even noted that she “finally got a grasp on what populism is, and how to address extremism through education.”