State cabinet member to teach grad class on famine


A high-ranking member of Gov. Paul Cellucci's cabinet will teach a graduate subject 17.958, "Great Famine, Humanitarian Aid and Conflict," in the Department of Political Science this spring.

Massachusetts Secretary of Administration and Finance Andrew S. Natsios also served as assistant administrator for the Bureau of Food and Humanitarian Assistance and director of the Office of Foreign Assistance in the US Agency for International Development during the Bush Administration. He has written a book entitled The Great North Korean Famine, which will be released shortly.

"Next to genocide, one of the most terrible tragedies a population can go through is famine," Mr. Natsios said. "Yet the humanitarian community still has not applied the scholarship and research on famines which has accumulated over the years to our operational responses. Through this class, I look forward to connecting academic research on famines with more real-world experience to see how we can better understand the phenomenon of famines and improve our humanitarian response to them."

After leaving government, Mr. Natsios served for five years as vice president of World Vision, a nonprofit organization that provides economic development and humanitarian assistance to poor countries around the world. He has an MA in public administration from Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government and a BA in history from Georgetown University.

"We are delighted to be able to offer a course from Andrew Natsios on the political consequences of famine," said Professor Joshua Cohen, head of the Department of Political Science. "The topic is obviously of extraordinary importance, and Natsios is immensely well qualified to teach it."

The course will meet once a week on Wednesdays from 5:30-7:30pm in Rm E51-361. Describing the syllabus, Mr. Natsios said: "The course will explore famines: their various definitions, theories of their causes and consequences, how those affected by them cope with them, the stages through which famines pass, and means by which they may be predicted, measured and assessed. The course will analyze famines from three interrelated perspectives, as an economic events, in their political context, and finally as public health crises. Finally, various humanitarian aid responses to famine will be examined, the strengths and weaknesses of each, and how they may be pursued during civil conflicts."

Mr. Natsios represented his hometown of Holliston in the Massachusetts House of Representatives from 1975-87, serving simultaneously as chair of the Massachusetts Republican Party from 1980-87. He was appointed to his present position last March.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on February 2, 2000.


Topics: Political science, Global

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