Dr. Galen A. Irwin

The 2022 Gockel International Symposium is set for 11 a.m. Tuesday, March 8, in Webster Hall’s Corley Auditorium.

The Gockel International Symposium was named in honor of Harry Gockel, a longtime faculty member at Joplin Junior College and Missouri Southern who taught geography and served as the first chair of the social science division. Through the years, he was an integral part of the university’s transition to a four-year college. He and his wife, Berniece, left an estate which provides funds for MSSU to hold the annual symposium focusing on international affairs.

This year’s featured speaker is Dr. Galen A. Irwin, an emeritus political science professor at Leiden University in Leiden, Netherlands. Dr. Chad Stebbins, director of MSSU’s Institute of International Studies, said Irwin’s background makes him a natural fit for the symposium.

“He’s originally from Joplin and was a graduate of Joplin Junior College, where he was a student of Harry Gockel’s,” said Stebbins. “(Irwin) went on to spend the bulk of his career in the Netherlands, so he has international connections that fit in nicely.”

Irwin’s lecture will discuss his journey from Joplin Junior College to Leiden University, as well as the thrills and frustrations of living in a different country. He spent most of his time at Leiden researching voting behaviors in the country, and his lecture will compare the democratic systems of the United States and Netherlands.

“My mentor, Hans Daalder of Leiden University, used to say, ‘If you want to learn about the politics of your country, study the politics of another country,’” said Irwin. “Living and studying in another country broadens your perspective, but it can also be frustrating. You learn not only to see the good points of your early country, but its weaknesses.”

Irwin will also introduce the film “Soldier of Orange” at 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 8, in Plaster Hall’s Cornell Auditorium as part of the MSSU International Film Series.

Admission is free to both the symposium and the film screening.