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Global Perspectives on Democracy


Italy, Sri Lanka, and Future International Programs

Global Perspectives on Democracy (GPD), the Center for Politics’ international initiative, is making great progress. Center Director, Larry Sabato, concluded a U.S. Department of State-sponsored lecture series in Rome, future programs are in the works, and our involvement with Sri Lanka continues to develop.

Professor Sabato’s four-day mission to Rome, Italy last November adhered closely to the purposes of GPD by creating greater understanding of the U.S. political system and timely political events among Italians. During the visit, Sabato spoke at academic institutions, made appearances on numerous national media outlets and met with members of the Italian government. Professor Sabato will speak at a number of DC embassies in the coming months.

GPD is pursuing funding support for future programs. The Center in partnership with Relief International has applied for a U.S. Department of State grant which would bring 20 undergraduate journalism students from Bangladesh, Nepal, and Sri Lanka to University Grounds for the month of June to participate in discussions, work on community service projects, participate in internships, and stay with local host families. If you live in the Charlottesville area let us know (irby@virginia.edu) if you might be interested in hosting a student from June 13 – 25, 2010. The Center is also pursuing opportunities in China, Guatemala, Japan, and another with Sri Lanka mentioned below.

As a result of the successful spring 2009 Sri Lanka exchange in partnership with Relief International, staff members Meg Heubeck and Daman Irby participated in the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs funded mission to Sri Lanka in August 2009. While in Sri Lanka Meg and Daman held a workshop on the topics of civic engagement, advocacy, and the use of free internet technologies, visited organizations and individuals who advocate equal rights and traversed the island’s cultural sites. “It was inspiring to witness Sri Lankans taking the ideas presented at UVa and adapting and making them work in Sri Lanka,” said Heubeck. Upon their return, Daman and Meg hosted an event on Grounds entitled “Sri Lank at the Crossroads: War, Peace and Democracy” with former Ambassador of Sri Lanka Ashley Wills as the keynote speaker.

Two of the 18 exchange participants upon their return started Democracy Corps – Sri Lanka to teach young citizens how to start service projects that emphasize involvement in the political process. The Center for Politics and Relief International have since applied for a U.N. Democracy Fund grant to further establish Democracy Corps – Sri Lanka across the nation.

To read more about Global Perspectives on Democracy, the Sri Lanka program and Daman and Meg’s experiences there, visit www.centerforpolitics.org/gpd.html.