The J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board has selected Dr. Susan Penksa, Westmont associate professor of political science, as a Fulbright Scholar grantee to Bosnia and Herzegovina.
During the last 10 years Penksa, an international security and development consultant, has built an extensive consulting practice with national governments, the European Union, NATO, the United Nations and nongovernmental organizations.
She is a specialist in international conflict management and crisis response, transatlantic relations, European security, post-conflict reconstruction, democratization and governance, gender as a cross-cutting issue and security sector reform.
From August through December, Penksa will conduct research and lecture in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. She will evaluate the process of post-conflict police restructuring in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo with a focus on the role of the EU. Her research will include a collaborative study regarding the effectiveness of EU strategies for addressing organized crime in Bosnia and the Balkan region.
“It is an honor to receive a Fulbright appointment and to represent Westmont and the United States through research, civic and political engagement,” Penksa says. “It will enable me to sharpen my understanding of the best practices for security sector and rule of law reforms and provide a unique opportunity to contribute to the community of Bosnia and Herzegovina.”
Most recently, Penksa traveled to Pakistan in January where she consulted with the economic growth department of the U.S. Agency for International Development. She focused on mechanisms for increasing women’s economic empowerment in gender-sensitive ways.
Penksa has taught at Westmont for more than 10 years and received the college’s Faculty Research Award in 2005 and Outstanding Teacher of the Year in 2004. She earned her master’s degree and doctorate from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.
She began studying the Balkans as a graduate student when the war in former Yugoslavia was in its early stages. She lectured on the ethnic cleansing that was occurring in the hope of drawing citizen concern and action to the atrocities in former Yugoslavia.
“From that moment,” she says, “I became determined to maintain a personal and professional commitment to the people of former Yugoslavia.”
She wrote her doctoral dissertation on the development of the EU as a foreign policy actor, using a case study of the EU response to the war in former Yugoslavia from 1991 to 1995.
At Westmont, she continues to teach about the war and post-conflict reform in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo.
“I hope to help students engage as citizens and future leaders,” she says, “so that the lessons of Bosnia and Kosovo will not be forgotten and will inform international decisions in other conflict zones like Afghanistan, Sudan and Iraq.”
The 12-member Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board is appointed by the president of the United States and the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs oversees operations of the Fulbright programs throughout the world.