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Deborah Avant Appointed Director of Sié Center

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Korbel Communications

Article  • Announcement  •

The Josef Korbel School of International Studies, University of Denver, has announced the appointment of Dr. Deborah Avant as director of the Sié Chéou-Kang Center for International Security and Diplomacy. Dr. Avant served as founding director of the Sié Center from 2011-2018, and is Sié Chéou-Kang chair and professor of political science at the Josef Korbel School.

“I’m delighted that Professor Deborah Avant has agreed to return as director of the Sié Center,” said Fritz Mayer, dean of the Korbel School. “Under her able leadership, I know the Center will build on its already outstanding reputation as an international leader in producing important and impactful scholarship.”

Avant is no stranger to leading such critical research. She is author and/or co-editor of “Civil Action and the Dynamics of Violence in Conflicts,” “Who Governs the Globe?,” “The Market for Force: the Consequences of Privatizing Security,” and over 50 additional publications. Her expertise in private security led her to serve as a founding observer member of the International Code of Conduct Association governing private security providers. For these contributions to the regulation of private military and security forces, Avant was awarded an honorary doctorate from University of St. Gallen.

The Korbel School welcomed Avant in 2011. She quickly established herself as an invaluable advisor to students at the school. Avant has remained committed to Korbel’s students in her more recent roles as the founding co-director of the Certificate on Global Business and Corporate Social Responsibility and co-director of the PhD Program at the Korbel School.

Prior to joining the Korbel School, Avant held professor positions at University of California, Irvine, and George Washington University. She served as founding director of UC Irvine’s Center for Research on International and Global Affairs and George Washington University’s Institute for Global and International Studies. Avant earned a PhD, MA, and BA in Political Science from University of California, San Diego.

Under Avant’s foundational leadership, the Sié Center grew from a two-person entity to include numerous faculty affiliates; MA and PhD research assistants; and esteemed fellowship, postdoctoral, and practitioner in residence programs. Avant further established notable Sié Center programming including the Denver Dialogue Speaker Series and a research seminar series, which now serves the entire Korbel School and is critical to both the school’s intellectual dynamism and PhD training.

As director of the Sié Center, Avant also led a number of initiatives in the profession, most recently as founding editor-in-chief of the International Studies Association’s newest journal: The Journal of Global Security Studies (JoGSS). JoGSS’ mission, to ignite conversation between different parts of the security field and to join theory with practice, made it a natural fit with the Center.

Dr. Cullen Hendrix, professor of political science at the Korbel School, has served as director of the Sié Center since 2018. During his tenure, Hendrix fostered partnerships with a number of organizations, including Oxfam and the One Earth Future foundation, and further developed the Center’s distinguished postdoctoral program. The Sié Center further introduced a number of innovative policy engagement initiatives under Hendrix’s leadership, including the Working Group on Responsible Engagement Workshop. Hendrix will remain a Sié Center faculty affiliate while serving in his new role as director of the Korbel School’s Sustainability Initiative and master of arts degree program in Global Environmental Sustainability, launching in 2021.

The Sié Chéou-Kang Center for International Security and Diplomacy was founded in 2011 following a gift from Anna and John Sié. Its mission is to foster a center of excellence to burnish the Korbel brand while promoting leadership training, network creation, and engagement with the Rocky Mountain West region and beyond. Located within the Josef Korbel School of International Studies, University of Denver, the Center is now home to over 12 ongoing research projects.

Policy engagement remains a core value of the Sié Center, and its faculty have advised a number of governmental and non-governmental bodies including the National Intelligence Council, the International Committee of the Red Cross, and Lake Victoria fisheries managers. Avant looks forward to further developing the Sié Center’s policy engagement capacities in increasingly uncertain times. “The seeds of global crises have been growing for some time but COVID-19 has pushed us into uncharted territory,” she explained. “I am so grateful to lead a team that is poised to engage responsibly with policy communities to generate creative responses to our new environment.”

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