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Eight Hendrix Students Selected for Rwandan Odyssey

CONWAY, Ark. (January 20, 2014) – Eight Hendrix students will travel to Rwanda in May on a two-week Odyssey trip.

The 2014 Rwanda Odyssey is supported by the Charles Prentiss Hough Odyssey Professorship, held by Hendrix politics and international relations professor and department chair Dr. Daniel Whelan.   

History professor Dr. Allison Shutt and politics professor Dr. Kim Maslin will join Whelan and the students on the trip.

“Rwanda provides an excellent case for exploring many questions relating to the ethics and politics of development,” Whelan said.   

The purpose of the Rwanda Odyssey is to explore some of the tensions and challenges evident in contemporary Rwandan society, focusing specifically on a variety of ethical aspects of its development and post-conflict reconciliation strategies.

The Rwanda Odyssey trip will consist of numerous site visits around the country, allowing students to meet and interact with local communities, government officials, local and international NGOs, and international and bilateral assistance organizations. Specific visits will be tailored to the students’ interests and research goals.  

“Rising sophomores and juniors will earn global awareness Odyssey credit, while rising seniors will complete research capstone projects for undergraduate research Odyssey credit,” Whelan said. 

The following students will participate in the trip. 

  • Lila Coco, a junior from Houston, Texas, will earn undergraduate research Odyssey credit studying "The Mental Health Dimensions of Rwanda's Reconciliation Process"
  • Bria Guthridge, a freshman from Watauga, Texas, will earn global awareness Odyssey credit studying "Civil Society and the Road to Stability in Rwanda"
  • McKenna Jacquemet, a sophomore from Menlo Park, Calif., will earn global awareness Odyssey credit studying "Development Ethics in the Rwandan Context"
  • Chirag Lala, a freshman from Little Rock, Ark., will earn global awareness Odyssey credit studying "Rwanda's Economic Development Policy"
  • Andrew McWard, a freshman from Fairway, Kan., will earn global awareness Odyssey credit studying "Human Rights in the Development Process"
  • Jill Nguyen, a junior from Hanoi, Vietnam, will earn undergraduate research Odyssey credit studying "The Power of Representation: Women's Political Representation and Crime in Rwanda"
  • Kay Beth Tyson, a freshman from Lipscomb, Texas, will earn global awareness Odyssey credit "Ecotourism: Rebuilding the Economy in Rwanda"
  • Kyle Wicks, a junior from Conway, Ark., will earn undergraduate research Odyssey credit studying "Conflict and Connectivity: Why Cellphone Users Rebel"

About the faculty

Dr. Maslin teaches courses in American institutions, political philosophy and gender. She has traveled to Rwanda five times in various capacities. She is currently interested in examining the role of various types of gender quotas in women’s substantive representation.

Dr. Shutt teaches African history. Her fall 2014 course titled Aid, Humanitarianism and Development will focus exclusively on Rwanda. She has lived and studied in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Togo, and visited Kenya. Along with Hendrix English professor Dr. Carol West, Shutt led an Odyssey project with seven Hendrix students to South Africa in 2007.  

Dr. Whelan teaches courses in development, international law and human rights. He accompanied the first group of Hendrix students who traveled in Rwanda in 2007. He later led a team of three students working on individual research projects in Rwanda on the politics of land reform, women and microfinance, and the implementation of programs financed by the Global Fund for AIDS, TB and Malaria. In Rwanda, he is interested in deepening his understanding of the tensions between human rights and development.

Founded in 1876, Hendrix College is a national leader in engaged liberal arts and sciences education. For the sixth consecutive year, Hendrix was named one of the country’s “Up and Coming” liberal arts colleges by U.S. News and World Report.  Hendrix is featured in the latest edition of Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think about Colleges, as well as the 2014 Princeton Review’s The Best 378 Colleges, Forbes magazine's list of America's Top Colleges, and the 2014 Fiske Guide to Colleges. Hendrix has been affiliated with the United Methodist Church since 1884. For more information, visit