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ASU confab brings together academics, policymakers

March 31, 2010

“Breaking Down the Walls” begins March 31 at Wyndham in Downtown Phoenix

Historians, political scientists, communicators and law professors will huddle with U.S. foreign policymakers – active and former – from the military, CIA and State Department in Phoenix this week on topics including nuclear proliferation, counterinsurgency, trafficking and immigration.

Breaking Down the Walls: Increasing the Discourse in the American Policy Making Community,” a conference to discuss “how our history shapes our understanding of the future,” is the idea of Kyle Longley, a professor of history in Arizona State University’s School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

“Academics often cloister together and don’t interact with policymakers,” said Longley, author of several books including “Grunts: The American Infantryman in Vietnam.”

The conference in Phoenix from March 31 to April 2 is designed to create relationships and exchange ideas – between academic and policymakers, but also among policymakers, Longley notes. Participants will include Admiral Bobby Ray Inman, Ambassador John Maisto, Admiral Vern Clark, Colonel Gian Gentile, as well as a strong core of distinguished faculty members from U.S. and foreign universities.

The keynote speaker for Thursday’s dinner is Air Force Gen. Victor “Gene” Renuart, commander of North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and U.S. Northern Command (NORTHCOM).

Among the professors participating are: George Herring, University of Kentucky; Jeremy Kuzmarov, University of Tulsa; Bob Neer, Columbia University; and Jeremi Suri, University of Wisconsin. Also Robert Johnson, CUNY-Brooklyn; Jacob Hamblin, Oregon State University; Ken Matwiczak, University of Texas at Austin; Brendon O’Connor, University of Sydney; and David Gibbs, University of Arizona.

Several faculty and staff from Thunderbird School of Global Management in Glendale are scheduled to participate, including professors Lew Howell, Mary Sully de Luque and Amanda Bullough.

Arizona State University participants include Yoav Gortzak and Clark Miller, School of Politics and Global Studies; Rick Van Schoik and Erik Lee, North American Center for Transborder Studies; Charles Katz, College of Public Programs; Steve Corman, Hugh Downs School of Human Communication; Aaron Brown, Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication; and David Gartner and Orde Kittrie, Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law.

Jim Kolbe, a former Arizona congressman and senior fellow at the German Marshall Fund, is scheduled to participate in a roundtable discussion on the international dynamics of immigration.

The program and a list of participants is online at The conference is open to the public, though registration is required. More information is at (623) 252-9782 or

“Breaking Down the Walls” is presented by Arizona State University in conjunction with the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, Scowcroft Institute of International Affairs at the George H.W. Bush School, Society of Historians of American Foreign Relations, and Phoenix Committee on Foreign Relations.