University of Vermont

The College of Arts and Sciences

Global and Regional Studies Program

Seminar Series

2015-2016 Seminar Series

Brian Olsen on the Sochi Olympics
Brian Olsen on the Sochi Olympics

The 2015-2016 seminar series for GRS focused on several key themes including the politics and culture of the Olympic Games, gender and development across the globe, environmental issues, and urban transformations.  Here are a few highlights from some of our speakers:

    • In September, Brian Olsen (’09) came to speak to our students on two topics – his experiences as a military engineer and officer during his year-long deployment in Afghanistan in 2014, and his observations as both an Olympic athlete (in Turin 2006) and as a US Olympic Committee official (Sochi 2014).


    • Also in September we were visited by one of the very first Global Studies graduates, Tyler Wilkinson-Ray (’12). Tyler has had a varied career since graduating, including a stint as a green energy lobbyist and as an environmental activist. He has most recently spent time as a freelance video artist, working on a number of projects including short documentaries on ski hills in Vermont and a biography of a one-legged skier. He is currently working with the outdoor gear company Columbia to shoot a number of videos for them. He has also received funding from the National Geographic Society to make a documentary called Mailrunners which looks at the few remaining mail carriers in the remote mountain regions of Ladakh, India, who continue to deliver the mail by literally carrying it up mountain ranges.


    • Robert Oliver from the Department of Geography, Virginia Tech, visited our campus in November and presented his research on Toronto’s failed Olympic bid from 2000. He also provided considerable insight into why Boston had withdrawn its own bid earlier in 2015 and why so few large cities were continuing to participate in the bidding process to be Olympic hosts.


  • In October, Bipasha Baruah, Canada Research Chair in Global Women’s Issues at the University of Western Ontario about women’s participation in the emerging “green” economies of the world. She also gave a fascinating workshop to graduate and advanced undergraduate students on participatory methodologies and working in/with communities in “risky” environments.

    Bipasha Baruah Bipasha Baruah

  • In December mechanical engineering major and Olympian Ellie Terweil (’16) gave an insightful talk about her experiences as an athlete and as a student including the challenges of balancing two competing sets of demands, how she dealt with an injury that did not allow her to compete in the Vancouver Olympics 2010, how she recovered from that injury and made her way back into the competition in Sochi 2014, and how missing a gate led her to miss the podium by mere inches

    Ellie Terwiel in competition Ellie Terwiel in competition


We have an exciting lineup of events and speakers planned for 2016-2017 including Beverley Wemple, Associate Professor of Geography and a 2017 Fulbright Fellow in Ecuador who will be speaking about her ongoing project on snow hydrology in the Andes, Dr. Tim Hawthorne from Central Florida University who will be speaking about his research on community based participatory mapping in Belize, and Derek Watkins a cartographer working for the New York Times. We will also be featuring a number of events on Oaxaca (the site our full semester study abroad program) looking in particular at the ongoing protests over police brutality and the crackdown on teacher’s unions, at the struggle for food justice in the face of corporate agri-business, and the issue of health care access for migrant farmworkers.