Kurdistan Today: No Friends But the Mountains? | Michael McClellan | Mar 20

The Tennessee World Affairs Council

in Association with

Belmont University Center for International Business

invite you to a

Global Town Hall

Kurdistan Today: No Friends But the Mountains?


Michael McClellan

President of the American University of Kurdistan Foundation

March 20, 2019
Belmont University

Massey Boardroom, Barbara Massey Hall

5:30 Registration/Networking
6:00-7:30 Program

Open to all

  • Active Paid Members: Free
  • Future Members: $10.00
  • Belmont Students and Faculty: Free

This topic plays on a common Kurdish saying, but leaves open the possibility to talk about a wide range of topics and will allow a Q&A to go all over the place. One of the central points I want to make is that Kurds finally have the chance to run their OWN educational system and they are making choices that will benefit Kurds throughout the world. By establishing two American-style universities, Kurds are preparing for a future that can go either way and that is the vital thing now. Also, it is a chance to promote Kurdish culture and language globally, an opportunity that Iran, Turkey, and Syria do not afford the Kurds, but Iraq does.

Kurdistan is one of the very few bright lights in the Middle East – the cornerstone of stability and a model of tolerance and diversity for the entire region. McClellan’s brief  will be upbeat, but realistic, will address independence/autonomy, but focus on the positive role of education in advancing the cause of the Kurds.

About Michael McClellan

Michael McClellan became President of the American University of Kurdistan Foundation in August 2018. Prior to that, he was Diplomat-in-Residence at Western Kentucky University and a Recruitment and Outreach Officer with the U.S. Department of State, responsible for recruiting for the U.S. Foreign Service by increasing awareness of the many internship, fellowship, and career opportunities available with the Department.

During his three decades with the U.S. Information Agency and the U.S. Department of State, Michael served as a Public Diplomacy Officer in Yemen, Egypt, Russia, Serbia, Germany, Kosovo, Ireland, Iraq (twice), Ethiopia, and South Sudan, where he served as Deputy Chief of Mission. He was also Diplomat-in-Residence at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. He retired in 2014 with the rank of Minister-Counselor.

Michael’s work in Public Diplomacy focused on press and media, often as the official Embassy Spokesman. He was Spokesman in Kosovo right after the NATO bombing campaign and then in Iraq when the U.S. military withdrew in 2011. However, Michael’s proudest accomplishment in the Foreign Service was founding the American University in Kosovo, which opened its doors in 2004 and continues educating Kosovo’s youth from all communities to this day. As a Public Affairs Counselor in several embassies, Michael oversaw the Public Diplomacy grants to local NGOs and was responsible for ensuring compliance of grantees with USG regulations.

Throughout his career, Michael maintained a lifelong interest in photography and religions, which culminated in a book on Egypt’s Coptic Church monasteries that was published by the American University in Cairo Press and extensive outreach on Muslim-Christian interfaith understanding during several overseas assignments. Later in his career, working mainly in Africa, he promoted organic and sustainable farming and Appalachian culture.

A Kentucky native, Michael has a B.A. in Journalism and Political Science from the University of Louisville, an M.A. in Photojournalism and International Relations from Syracuse University, and completed doctoral studies in International Communication at Indiana University in Bloomington.

As a diplomat, Michael spoke Russian, Arabic, and German, as well as some Serbian and Albanian. He lives in Dohuk, Kurdistan, as well as Bowling Green, Kentucky, where he has a small organic farm and keeps bees.

Directions and Parking

Barbara Massey Hall is located just off of Wedgewood Avenue on the northern front of campus, between Freeman Hall and the Massey Business Center. There is free, lighted parking in the North Garage located underneath the Inman and McWhorter buildings, adjacent to the Massey Business Center. Entrances are located off of Wedgewood Avenue via the alley entrance and 15th Avenue, through both roundabouts. For more details on parking, please click here.

Campus Maps

Photo/Map: Perry-Castañeda Library, University of Texas


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