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OSU Professor To Offer Conflict Resolutions To State Department

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Caught between Iraq's instability and China's mounting political tensions, Central Asia has erupted as a source of political unrest. Now, one Oklahoma State University researcher will have a chance to do something about it.

Dr. Reuel Hanks, associate professor of geography, has been chosen to offer the U.S. Department of State with conflict resolutions for Central Asia. Honored with a Policy Seminar on Conflict in Eurasia fellowship, Hanks is one of only 10 fellows in the nation who will travel to Washington, D.C this May to present his research.

According to Hanks, Central Asia is an important region to examine because of its status as an emerging geo-political region marred with ongoing political tension. He says this is a unique region because it is surrounded by large markets in China, Russia and the Middle East which will not tolerate an unstable border.

“Central Asia is a crossroads for a number of major political players and is forced to become involved, whether they wish to or not," Hanks said. "We need to be proactive and try to maintain its stability.”

One goal is to encourage the U.S. Department of State to implement academic centers in Central Asia similar to the Institute for Conflict Analysis Research (ICAR) in South America and Armenia. Another goal is to influence Central Asian universities to provide public education on how to effectively resolve current and future conflicts, Hanks said.

Aiming to not only influence American policy, Hanks said he hopes the research will lead to meetings in Europe with European scholars adding to their efforts.

“Our ultimate goal is to see democracy and a civil society,” Hanks said. “The sooner we start working toward those goals, the sooner we can achieve them.”

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