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2012 Young Alumnus awardee focused on study of conflict

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NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – Bethel College’s 2012 Young Alumnus Award is no stranger to the effects of armed conflict, which may be one reason why his academic career has been devoted to studying them.

Jaroslav Tir, Boulder, Colo., majored in history and mathematical sciences, minored in economics and political science and received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Bethel in 1995. Just last August, he took a position as an associate professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Colorado-Boulder, specializing in international relations with a focus on causes and management of armed conflicts.

Tir will speak in Bethel College’s convocation Friday, March 9, at 11 a.m., where he will receive the 2012 Young Alumnus Award. His convocation topic is “Supply Side of United Nations Peacekeeping Operations: Trade Ties and Locations of UN-Led Deployments.”

Before coming to UC-Boulder, Tir taught political science at the University of Alabama for two years and then in the Department of International Affairs at the University of Georgia for eight years. He spent six months in 2008 as a Fulbright Senior Scholar on the faculty of political science at the University of Zagreb.

Originally from Croatia, Tir came to Kansas in 1990 as a high school exchange student.

“I’m especially grateful to John and Lila Bartel, Bethel graduates from Topeka,” he says, “who hosted me in the 1990-91 school year and were instrumental in having me stay in the U.S. to go to Bethel, as opposed to having to return to Croatia just as the wars of Yugoslav disintegration were starting. The broader Mennonite communities, in Topeka and also Bethel’s, also helped enormously through fund-raising efforts and moral support.”

He adds, “Intellectually, my thanks go to Professors Keith Sprunger and Arnold Wedel, who engaged and developed my interests in history and mathematics, and to Bethel grad Gary Goertz, who showed me that these interests can be interwoven and combined with my other passion, international politics.”

Tir earned an M.A. (1997) and a Ph.D. (2001) in political science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His dissertation received the Walter Isard Award for Best Dissertation 2000-02 from the Peace Science Society International.

He is a researcher, consultant and prolific writer who has garnered numerous honors, awards and grants. His research spans territorial disputes, environmental conflict and security, domestic and ethnic conflict, and diversionary theory of war.

He is the author of Redrawing the Map to Promote Peace: Territorial Dispute Management via Territorial Changes, Innovations in the Study of World Politics Series (Lanham, Md.: Lexington Books, 2006), as well as numerous articles in peer-reviewed scholarly journals and other published essays and book chapters.

Among Tir’s many honors are a National Science Foundation and U.S. Department of Defense/Department of the Army/Army Research Office grant for the project “NSCC/SA: Avoiding Water Wars: Environmental Security through River Treaty Institutionalization,” on which he is working (with Douglas Stinnett) through 2012.

In addition to the Fulbright Senior Scholar grant at the University of Zagreb in 2008, Tir was also awarded a Fulbright Follow-on Grant for research in Croatia in summer 2010. He received the Gerald Schrag Mathematics Award at Bethel College in 1992, the above-mentioned dissertation award from the Peace Science Society International in 2002 and the Richard B. Russell Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Instruction at the University of Georgia in 2007, among many others.

Tir has led the Croatia Maymester Study Abroad program, teaching “Nationalism and Ethnic Conflict” and “Croatian Politics and Identity,” 2007-10 as well as upcoming this spring, for the University of Georgia. He has also led study abroad in Paris and Quito, Ecuador, where he was a founding program director for the Ecuador Conflict Resolution Study Abroad Program at the University of Georgia.

He is a member of the American Political Science Association (Conflict Processes section), the International Studies Association (Scientific Study of International Processes section) and the Peace Science Society International.

Personally, “I very much enjoy traveling along with my wife Carolyn, originally from Topeka,” he says. “We love to learn about the history of other places, explore different cultures and ways of life, observe varied architectural styles and meet the locals. We’ve been all over Europe but have particularly found memories of our travels to more exotic locations such as South Africa, Turkey and Hawaii.

“Other activities we enjoy are bicycling and hiking in the mountains – moving to Boulder recently has certainly been helpful in getting to partake in these activities more frequently.”

The Awards Committee of the Bethel College Alumni Association names one or more Young Alumnus Award winners each year. The Young Alumnus Award recognizes character and citizenship, achievement or service rendered, and honors and recognition received. The recipient must be 39 years of age or younger and present a convocation program for Bethel students, faculty and staff.

Bethel College is the only private, liberal arts college in Kansas listed in the 2011-12 Forbes.com analysis of top colleges and universities in the United States and is the highest-ranked Kansas college in the Washington Monthly annual college guide for 2011-12. The four-year liberal arts college is affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. For more information, see www.bethelks.edu.

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