Abiodun Williams
Centennial Fellow, Georgetown University, Walsh School of Foreign Service
Margaret Karns
Professor Emerita of Political Science University of Dayton; Visiting Professor, University of Massachusetts Boston

In this special “ACUNS @ 30” podcast, board member Margaret Karns is joined by past-chair Abiodun Williams to discuss the inaugural Summer Workshop on International Organization Studies, which was held at Dartmouth College, July 14–26, 1991. Dr. Karns was one of the participants in the ACUNS founding conference (1987), and led a session at the 1991 Workshop on “Approaches to Teaching in Political and Social Sciences”. Dr Williams, who was a participant in the 1991 Workshop, speaks with Dr. Karns about both the unique opportunities presented by the first Workshop and the lasting impact of this annual ACUNS program. Dr. Williams notes the benefits of the Workshop for professional skills development and as a catalyst for new thinking. Since that first summer, Dr. Williams has remained closely involved with both ACUNS and the Workshop on International Organization Studies. In 2014, when he was President of The Hague Institute for Global Justice and Chair of the ACUNS Board of Directors, Dr. Williams directed the workshop in The Hague on “Local Justice, Global Standards and Critical Contemporary Challenges”. This long involvement in the Workshops—as both academic and practitioner and as both participant and director—gives Dr. Williams unique insight into this program.

Dr. Abiodun Williams is Centennial Fellow at Georgetown University’s Walsh School of Foreign Service.  In July 2017 Dr. Williams will begin his new appointment as Director of the Institute for Global Leadership (IGL) and Professor of the Practice of International Politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.  He served as the first President of The Hague Institute for Global Justice from 2013 to 2016.  He spearheaded its development into a vibrant think and do tank working on issues at the critical intersection of peace, security and justice.  From 2011 to 2012 he served as Senior Vice President of the Center for Conflict Management at the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) in Washington, DC. He led USIP’s work in major conflict zones such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, and Libya. He served as Vice President of USIP’s Center for Conflict Analysis and Prevention from 2008 to 2011, and had primary responsibility for the Institute’s work on conflict prevention, Iran, and Northeast Asia. From 2001-2007, Dr. Williams served as Director of Strategic Planning for United Nations Secretaries-General Ban Ki-moon and Kofi Annan. He gained valuable field operational experience, serving with the United Nations from 1994 to 2000 in peacekeeping operations in the Balkans and Haiti, in senior political and humanitarian roles. He served as Associate Dean of the Africa Center for Strategic Studies at the National Defense University in Washington, DC, and held faculty appointments at Georgetown University and University of Rochester.  Dr. Williams has served as Chair of the Academic Council on the United Nations System (ACUNS), Board Member of the U.S.-Netherlands Fulbright Commission, Member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Justice, Member of the Group of Senior Experts of the UN’s Human Rights Up Front Initiative, Trustee of the Lester B. Pearson United World College of the Pacific in Canada, and Member of the International Board of Directors of the United World Colleges.  He is the recipient of several awards including the Dr. Jean Mayer Global Citizenship Award from Tufts University and the Constantine E. Maguire Medal from Georgetown University. He has published widely on conflict prevention and management.  Dr. Williams holds an M.A. Honors in English Language and Literature from Edinburgh University, as well as an M.A.L.D. and a Ph.D. in International Relations from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.

Professor Karns was among the forty participants in the 1987 conference at Dartmouth College that led to the creation of ACUNS.  She was tasked there with a plenary presentation on “Teaching International Organization.”  Subsequently, she conducted the session on the same topic at the initial ACUNS Summer Workshop in 1991.  Most of her career in academe was spent as a member of the faculty at the University of Dayton, where she also served as director of the International Studies Program and founding director of the University of Dayton’s Center for International Programs from 1983 to 1995.

During 1995-96, Professor Karns was Visiting Professor of International Relations at the John Hopkins University-Nanjing University Center for Chinese and American Studies in Nanjing, China. She returned to Asia in 1998 to teach a training course on “Multilateral Diplomacy and the United Nations System” for mid-career Vietnamese officials at The Institute of International Relations in Hanoi and again in May 2006 to lecture and serve as a consultant to the International Studies program at National University of Vietnam in Hanoi. In April 2007, she co-taught a workshop for thirty Vietnamese faculty in international relations on “International Relations since the Cold War’s End” with Professor Karen Mingst.

Currently, Professor Karns is Visiting Professor in the University of Massachusetts Boston John W. McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies where she teaches courses on global governance and international organizations in the doctoral program in Global Governance and Human Security.  She is a past Vice President of International Studies Association, a national member of the New York-based Council on Foreign Relations, long-time board member and past President of the Dayton Council on World Affairs, current Vice Chair of the ACUNS Board of Directors, and a member of the Editorial Board of Global Governance.

As a scholar, Professor Karns specializes in global governance and international organizations, including the United Nations, with a particular emphasis on UN peacekeeping and post-conflict peacebuilding.  With Professor Karen A. Mingst of the University of Kentucky she has published three books:  The United States and Multilateral Institutions: Patterns of Instrumentality and Influence (1990); International Organizations: The Politics and Processes of Global Governance (3rd ed., 2015) whose first edition won the ACUNS 2006 Prize for the Best Book on the United Nations and the United Nations System; and The United Nations in the 21stCentury (5th ed., 2017).