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Oct. 6, 2008
Contact: Jill Jess, University Relations, (785) 864-8858.

KU professor Diana Carlin to speak on U.S. election process in Belarus

LAWRENCE — Diana Carlin, professor of communication studies at the University of Kansas, will spend six days this month in Minsk, Belarus, as part of a U.S. State Department trip to present information on American politics, elections and gender issues in politics.

Carlin will arrive in Minsk on Friday, Oct. 10, and lead a series of lectures and conferences on a broad range of topics concerning American politics.

“The world watches our elections closely to learn who might be the next president but also to see how we conduct elections,” Carlin said. “This project and others like it provide an excellent opportunity for scholars to engage in public diplomacy by explaining our process and providing insights into what people are hearing in the news.”

Carlin’s research focuses on gendered communication, especially as it relates to political debates, speech writing and women in politics. The state department sends speakers around the world to help educate and answer questions about the American political system.

Carlin will begin her trip with a tour and will meet with staff of the Public Affairs Section of the U.S. Embassy in Minsk. The following day she will begin her speaking engagements with a one-day workshop in the Belarusian branch of the London School of Public Relations. There she will speak to 40 public relations specialists and professionals about effective media coverage; political reporting; theory and study of voting behavior; public engagement in elections; surveys and polling; and polemic and propaganda in political debates.

On Monday, Oct. 13, Carlin will present a two-hour workshop on women in politics to the Women Non-Governmental Organization, a group associated with the United Nations. In the workshop, she will discuss gender issues in elections; women as political communicators; public speaking and its role in American political campaigns; the current political situation in the United States; and innovative political technologies and techniques.

Representatives of political parties and communicators from Minsk and surrounding regions will be the audience for a one-day workshop on U.S. elections Tuesday, Oct. 14. Carlin will cover some of the same topics as well as theory and study of voting behavior and public engagement in elections and fundraising for political campaigns.

A press conference and question and answer session on the current political situation in the United States is on the agenda for Wednesday, Oct. 15. Carlin’s audience will be alumni of U.S. government-funded exchange programs.

Carlin will finish her trip with a presentation on the same topic Thursday, Oct. 16, to university students. A question and answer session will be part of the event.

“My major goal is to promote a better understanding of the U.S. political system and to find ways to adapt research findings about U.S. campaigns to other cultures and to countries at different stages of democracy building,” Carlin said. “In some ways it is an opportunity for others to learn from our mistakes as well as our successes.”

A member of the KU faculty since 1987, Carlin is the founder of Debate Watch, a national research project on presidential debates. She was named a Kemper Teaching Fellow and received the Steeples Award for Outstanding Service to Kansas in 1999. Carlin was named a Mortar Board Outstanding Educator in 1998.

Carlin is the second KU faculty member to make a State Department-sponsored trip this year. Last month, Burdett Loomis, professor of political science, took part in a two-week speaking tour of China to discuss the U.S. political system.

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The University of Kansas is a major comprehensive research and teaching university. University Relations is the central public relations office for KU's Lawrence campus.

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