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Minnesota State University, Mankato
Minnesota State University, Mankato

Dr. Abbas Kessel

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Dr. Abbas Kessel was an advocate of nonviolence and reason. He is remembered in our community for (among other things) almost single-handedly defusing a potentially violent demonstration against the Vietnam War in 1970.

About Abbas Kessel

Abbas KesselAbbas Gheselayagh, or "Kessel," was a faculty member in the Political Science Department at Mankato State University for 19 years. Kessel was a naturalized citizen of the United States born in Iran, and received his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in 1956. He died on September 26, 1987 of leukemia.

On the occasion of his retirement Kessel delivered a valedictory lecture. He was introduced by Scott Shrewsbury, then Chairperson of the PS/LE Department. Dr. Shrewsbury had this to say:

"The Annual Kessel Lecture Series was established at Mankato State to commemorate Kessel's contribution to the intellectual and cultural life of the campus and community. It will bring to the campus people, who in their own work, like Kessel , have demonstrated outspoken courage, incisiveness and compassionate dedication with regard to the world issues of foreign policy, environmental policy and energy policy. Kessel could be counted on to serve as our conscience and our guide in ethical matters and was bravely always visible up front in the defense of justice, truth and goodness...the series will be our way of reminding ourselves, the campus and the community of the impact that Kessel has had on us all."

Kessel Institute for Study of Peace and Change

Kessel Lectures

2012 Paul Renshaw

"Fair Trade:  Past and Futures"

2011 Kathy Kelly

"Peace in Afganistan:  Following the Children" October 2011

2011  Fred Gross

"One Step Ahead of Hitler:  A Jewish Child's Journey Through France"  February 2011

2010  Barry Sanders

"Environmental Crisis and Climate Change" October 2010

2010 Teach-In with Jim Dimmock, Barbara Carson, Jackie Vieceli & Aby Meredith.

"Our Wars and Their Consequences"  April 2010

2010  Marly Grant

"Voices of Haiti"  March 2010

2006 Laila El Haddad

“Starving Gaza: Disengagement, Democracy and U.S. Foreign Policy”

2005 Mehr Jay Shahidi

"Unilateralism or Multilateralism: The Future of the U.N. and its Implications for Peace and Refugee Relief."

  • Global Partners of the American Refugee Committee founding member
  • President and co-founder of Iranian-American Society of Minnesota

2004 Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer

Director of the Center for Peace and Justice, University of St. Thomas
"Making Sense of U.S. Foreign Policy: The Costs and Consequences of Empire"

2003 Dr. Jack Levin

Director of the Brudnick Center on Violence and Conflict, Northeastern University
"Hate and Violence After 9/11"

2002 Jennifer Ferenstein

President of the Sierra Club
"The Next Giant Step: Developing an American Energy Policy Within The Context of Political, Social and Environmental Realities"

2001 Dr. Mubarak Awad

2000 Rob Warden

Executive Director of the Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern University Law School
"The Ultimate Mistake: Executing the Innocent"

1999 James Carnes

Head of Teaching Tolerance Project at the Southern Poverty Law Center, Montgomery, AL
"The Trouble with Tolerance: Making Sense of an American Dilemma"

1998 Doug Johnson

Executive Director of the Center for Victims of Torture, Minneapolis, MN
"Torture: the Most Destructive Weapon Against Democracy"

1997 Kris Sanda

Commissioner, Minnesota Department of Public Service; founder member - Nuclear Waste Strategy
Coalition; former director of the Minnesota Office of Consumer Affairs
"Energy, the Environment and Rural Development: Where Do We Go From Here?"

1996 George Mitchell

Former U.S. Senator (D) from Maine and former Senate Majority Leader.
Advisor to then-President Bill Clinton on Northern Ireland.
"Peacemaking: With Special Reference to Northern Ireland"

1995 Howard Zinn

Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Boston University. Author of fourteen books including
A People's History of the United States: 1492-Present.
"Building Community in a Class Society"

1994 Nomcobo Sangweni

South African Anti-Apartheid Activist and Amnesty International Spokesperson.
"Human Rights and Peace Activism"

1993 Colleen Needles

WCCO-TV News Anchor
"People of the Forest: What's at Stake in the Rain Forest?"

1992 Arvonne Fraser

Director, Women, Public Policy and Development Program at Humphrey Institute of
Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota
"Human Rights, Democracy and Global Policy"

1991 Dr. John Barker

Professor of History, University of Wisconsin, Madison.
"The Middle East Problem: Something Old, Something New"

1990 Dr. Jason Clay

Director of Research for Cultural Survival Inc.
"Tropical Deforestation: Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights"

1989 Dr. Patrick O'Meara

Director of the African Studies Program, Indiana University
"Current Changes in South Africa: Illusion or Reality?"

1988 Clyde Bellecourt

American Indian Movement
"Rights Issues from a Native American Perspective"

1987 Dr. David Noble

Professor of History, University of Minnesota
"William Appleman Williams and the Critique of the American Empire"

1986 Dr. Louis Rene Beres

Professor of Political Science and International Law, Purdue University
"Terrorism and American Security: Reducing the Threat"

1985 Abbas Kessel


Donations Gratefully Accepted.

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Kessel Lectureship
Political Science/Law Enforcement
Minnesota State University, Mankato
Morris Hall 109
Mankato, MN 56001