Russ Feingold to teach course on UW-Madison campus next fall

Feingold speaks to UW-Madison’s Mandela Washington Fellows during a campus visit on July 14, 2017. (Photo by Meagan Doll / UW-Madison)

By Kyra Fox

Four decades after walking across the commencement stage, Russ Feingold will return to the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus in fall 2018 as a Distinguished Visiting Lecturer in International Studies.

The former state and U.S. senator will teach a capstone seminar for International Studies majors entitled “Negotiating Peace in the African Great Lakes Region.”

“I am thrilled to be returning to my alma mater to teach, having benefitted so greatly from the education I received at UW–Madison,” Feingold said.

Though chiefly known for his role in bringing bipartisan legislation to the Senate floor, Feingold has long been lauded as the Senate’s leading expert on Africa and African affairs. He served on the Foreign Relations subcommittee on African Affairs for 16 years, acting as ranking member beginning in 1995 with stints as Chairman from 2001 to 2003 and 2007 to 2011.

In 2013, former Secretary of State John Kerry appointed Feingold as special envoy to the Great Lakes region of Africa. For more than two years, he worked to elevate a region long overlooked in U.S. foreign policy conversations. Former Senate colleague Chris Coons praised his relentless advocacy for “responsible and constructive U.S. engagement” in sub-Saharan Africa. Most notably, Feingold helped persuade the March 23 Movement in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo to lay down its weapons, putting an end to one of the most serious armed conflicts in the region.

Across the UW campus, there is a ripple of excitement to host the iconic former Senator.

“Russ Feingold’s visit presents an opportunity for students to learn firsthand about the inner workings of foreign policy from an accomplished practitioner,” said Aleia McCord, associate director of the African Studies Program. “Feingold’s experience negotiating in sensitive issues related to conflict and security – that’s the kind of personal insight we want for our students.”

Born and raised in Janesville, Wis., Feingold graduated from UW with a B.A. in political science in 1975. He went on to earn a B.A. in jurisprudence from the University of Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. Feingold represented Wisconsin in Congress for 28 years, as a state senator from 1983 to 1993 and a U.S. senator from 1993 to 2011.

Throughout his congressional career, Feingold maintained a high profile on UW–Madison’s campus, speaking on topics such as college affordability and human rights policy, and even guest lecturing for the visiting Mandela Washington Fellows. He also taught at Stanford University, Marquette University Law School and Lawrence University, and is currently the Martin R. Flug Visiting Professor in the Practice of Law at Yale Law School.

“I am delighted to be able to work with students on the issues concerning the relationship between the United States and the African nations and peoples,” Feingold said of his upcoming visit.

Feingold will spend the fall 2018 semester in residence in the UW–Madison Institute for Regional and International Studies (IRIS) as a Distinguished Visiting Lecturer. Distinguished Visiting Lecturers provide a practitioner’s perspective on current affairs by teaching special topics courses, hosting public events, engaging with faculty, and sharing in the intellectual life of the university.

“We seek Distinguished Visiting Lecturers that are exceptionally accomplished leaders dedicated to foreign affairs,” said Jim Delehanty, executive director of IRIS.

Past IRIS Distinguished Visiting Lecturers include journalist and author Thierry Cruvellier, who currently teaches a UW-Madison course on International Criminal Justice.

Students will be able to enroll in Feingold’s course, International Studies 601: “Negotiating Peace in the African Great Lakes Region,” when registration opens in the spring.