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University Relations

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May 19, 2009
Contact: Bart Redford, Center for Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies, (785) 864-4248.

Doctoral studentís examination of sex tourism wins 2009 Laird essay contest

LAWRENCE — Laura A. Dean, a doctoral student in political science at the University of Kansas, has won this year’s Roy D. and Betty Laird Essay Award for her composition on sex tourism, titled “Implications of East European Sex Tourism in a Neocolonial Context.”

Now in its 15th year, the annual essay competition is named after the late Roy D. Laird, a longtime member of the Russian and East European studies and political science faculties, and Betty Laird, who established the award through KU Endowment. As a recipient of the award, Dean receives $500, a book of her choice, a certificate and her name on a plaque outside the Center for Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies office that bears the names of all previous winners of the competition.

Dean, of Lake Elmo, Minn., came to KU after earning a bachelor’s degree at the University of Wisconsin in Eau-Claire, a master’s at the University of Washington in Seattle and a Fulbright fellowship in Latvia. As part of her Fulbright experience, she investigated the “political implications of the exploitation of women in Latvia, focusing on sex tourism and human trafficking.”

Edith W. Clowes, director of the Center for Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies, noted that while at KU, “Dean has shown herself to be among the most active and energetic of a remarkably active group of graduate students. A recipient of the Foreign Language Area Studies Fellowship to start her study of Russian, she has taken seriously the FLAS requirement to give back to the program in the form of volunteer work and participation in CREES events.”

Fluent in Latvian, Dean is taking Russian courses to add knowledge of another language to her research tool kit. Her research interests include institutional analysis, women’s studies and post-Soviet politics.

KU Endowment is the independent, nonprofit foundation serving as the official fundraising and fund-management organization for KU. Founded in 1891, KU Endowment is the first foundation of its kind at a U.S. public university.


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