A meaningful faculty connection can often influence a student’s choice of major, especially when a professor’s passion for his or her field is the spark that ignites that bond. Students in Centre College’s International Studies program have experienced this firsthand through Lori Hartmann-Mahmud, both in the classroom and during the numerous times she has taken them on trips to Cameroon.
Currently in Ethiopia for the year as a Fulbright Fellow at Wollo University, Hartmann-Mahmud is sure to return with even more reasons to excite and engage her students. The Frank B. and Virginia B. Hower Associate Professor of International Studies and chair of International Studies program, Hartmann-Mahmud spends most of her time teaching, but she is also engaged in research on the topic of “Exploring Governance and Development in Ethiopia.”
She explains that this project “is a comparative study of Nigerian and Ethiopian literature, with an aim of understanding how that literature reflects a sense of nationalism or national identity.” It calls upon her earlier time in West Africa—in Niger as a Peace Corps volunteer, in Senegal as a Rotary Scholar, and in Nigeria for multiple family trips. Nigeria and Ethiopia, she explains, “are two similar countries in terms of population and diversity, one in West Africa and the other in the Horn of Africa.”
Hartmann-Mahmud recently delivered a lecture at the Institute for Peace and Security Studies at Addis Ababa University. The lecture, entitled “Human Security vs. National Security: A Gender Perspective,” was attended by notable members of the international diplomatic community, including U.S. Ambassador to the African Union Susan Page.
The lecture reflected Hartmann-Mahmud’s scholarly interests in African politics, women and development, and was “the fruit of extensive reading and research on the issue of human security versus national security and how that tension plays out in Africa, especially within the African Union.”
Along with her academic pursuits, Hartmann-Mahmud adds, “the cultural immersion and integration into the community has been a real highlight for me. Even participating in seemingly insignificant rituals such as going to a friend’s house for coffee have provided opportunities to learn more about Ethiopian culture, as this entails a detailed ceremony that can take several hours.” Hartmann-Mahmud notes that the coffee is certainly worth the wait. “This is where coffee originated! I’m becoming very spoiled drinking this delicious brew.”
Upon returning to Centre this fall, Hartmann-Mahmud will start her role as the newly elected faculty president, and she plans to integrate her research and experiences into courses such as African Politics in Fiction and Film. Until then, however, she will keep making the most of her remaining time in Ethiopia. She is particularly excited about an upcoming field trip with students to Lalibela, the most famous historic site in Ethiopia, and will continue to be tutored in Amharic, a “fascinating language.”
Above: Lori Hartmann-Mahmud delivers a lecture at the Institute for Peace and Security Studies at Addis Ababa University.
by Mary Trollinger
March 16, 2016