Director's Note



October 3, 2023


Dear Sié Center Community,

This past year was a phenomenal one at the Sié Center. We were lucky to add new faculty, postdocs, visiting scholars, and Sié Fellows to our community. As a Center, we hosted or co-hosted 48 community events and launched a new, invigorated social media campaign (#SiéStories) to tell the stories of our community in new an accessible ways. Our affiliated faculty also had a banner year: they gave more than 230 public talks or media interviews, published more than 75 articles, and won several national grants and awards. These successes have further cemented our reputation as a center of excellence at the University of Denver and among schools of international affairs more broadly.

Here are a few highlights from the past year:

  • Celebrated the publication of 2 major books by affiliated faculty George DeMartino and  Tricia Olsen;
  • Watched our founding director Debbi Avant’s Presidential Address at the International Studies Association’s Annual Meeting in Montreal;
  • Watched our former director Cullen Hendrix receive the University Lecturer Award and give the DU Provost’s University Lecture, called Social Science by Streetlight;
  • Received a new $600,000 Carnegie Corporation of New York grant on Responsible Public Engagement, with a team led by Rachel Epstein along with Tricia Olsen, Debbi Avant, Linda Mendéz-Barrientos, Naaz Barma, Alvin Camba, Oliver Kaplan and Fritz Mayer;
  • Welcomed 2 new affiliated faculty: Debak Das and Linda Méndez-Barrientos;
  • Welcomed 3 new Sié Fellows: Olivia Daigle, Phoebe Cribb, and Shifa Chowdhury;
  • Hosted 4 visiting scholars and postdocs for the year, including Odmaa Narantungalag, Ches Thurber, Matteo Casiraghi, and Tatiana Zadirako;
  • Hosted 5 Practitioners-in-Residence for short-term residencies, including mezzo soprano opera singer and cultural diplomacy envoy Carla Caneles; Iraqi Kurdish poet and feminist Choman Hardi; Cuban democracy activist Carolina Barrero; civilian protection champion Dan Mahanty of CIVIC; and Tigrayan journalist Mehret Okubay;
  • Convened the 4th IGLI Summer Institute with 25 activists and launched a new podcast, What the World Will Become; and
  • Launched the popular #SiéSimulations program led by Professors Hilary Matfess and Debak Das, in which Korbel students play out a dynamic, real-world “war game.”

 We want to congratulate our Sié Fellows who graduated in June 2023: Kerent Benjumea, Gulalai Ismail, Saba Ismail, Johnny Valdez, Sheila Van De Graaph, and Evan Waddill. We can’t wait to see what each of you accomplish in your lives and careers.

 We also want to extend our deep appreciation to Professors Cullen Hendrix, former director of the Sié Center, and Tricia Olsen, who has been affiliated with our center since its founding. Both are leaving the University of Denver for new opportunities at the Peterson Institute of International Economics and the University of Minnesota respectively. We are happy that both will stay affiliated with the Sié Center and will always be a core part of our community, and we wish them both success and joy in this next phase of their lives.

The vibrancy of the Sié Center is largely a result of the tireless work of our staff. My deep appreciation goes to Gergana Kostadinova Law and Shannon Tweedy, who have balanced many different roles with tremendous energy and dedication.

We are excited about all that the 2023-2024 academic year will include. Stay tuned for more, and please let us know if you’d like to get more involved.


With all my best,


Marie E. Berry