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Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu, executive director of the nonpartisan Centre for Policy Alternatives in Colombo, Sri Lanka, since 1996 and an Eisenhower Fellow, will speak on “Sri Lanka: Can Federalism Heal this Fractured Country?” noon Friday in the Kirby Hall of Civil Rights Council Room (206).

The lecture is sponsored by the Robert B. and Helen S. Meyner Center for the Study of State and Local Government. Free beverages will be provided.

A regular political columnist for a number of newspapers, Saravanamuttu is a founder of the Centre for Monitoring Election Violence and a member of the Free Media Movement, where he has served on its advisory committee. He has worked as a research consultant with the International Centre for Ethnic Studies and with both the Centre for Policy Research and Analysis and the Bandaranaike Centre for International Studies at the University of Colombo.

Saravanamuttu received his Ph.D. (1986) and bachelor’s degree (1979) in international relations from the London School of Economics and Political Science, University of London. He taught in the international relations department of the London School of Economics, and from 1984-92, he lectured in international relations at the University of Southampton.

He has been a member of the Foreign Affairs Study Group of the Foreign Ministry of Sri Lanka and was a member of the design team of the Good Governance and Institutional Strengthening Project for Sri Lanka of the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) in 1997. He is the author of the 1999 annual review of political events in Sri Lanka in Asian Survey and of the chapter on governance in “Plural Societies: The Case of Sri Lanka“ in the study of Non-Traditional Aspects of Security in South Asia commissioned by the Regional Centre for Strategic Studies. He has been involved in the Asian Development Bank’s governance assessment of Sri Lanka.

Founded at Lafayette in 1994 and led by John Kincaid, Robert B. and Helen S. Meyner Professor of Government and Public Service, the Meyner Center engages in teaching, research, publication, and public service on state and local government, federalism, and intergovernmental relations in the United States and abroad. The center publishes Publius: The Journal of Federalism, a quarterly scholarly journal with a worldwide readership. It works regularly with federal, state, and local officials and their national associations in the United States. It has conducted six Fulbright institutesthat bring together leaders and professors from around the world to debate and discuss federalism, republicanism, democracy, constitutions, and other governmental issues. Most of the participants are from Third World countries struggling with these issues.

“The participants take something back to their country and contribute to their academic institution and their society as a whole,” says Kincaid. Among those attending past institutes were groups from Cyprus and Indonesia. “I hope in the long run that we can play some role in building reconciliation and ending hostilities.”

This year’s Meyner Center activities have included a forum on intermunicipal cooperation attended by about 80 local officials and municipal managers from the Lehigh Valley. The center distributed a report on ways to improve intermunicipal cooperation, which was based on interviews led by Diane Elliott, the center’s director for public service, with officials from the 63 municipalities in Lehigh and Northampton counties and Phillipsburg, N.J.

Last year, the Meyner Center hosted a forum on bioterrorism preparedness for elected officials and emergency first responders in the greater Lehigh Valley and Warren County, N.J., featuring keynote talks by Peter F. Verga, special assistant for homeland security, U.S. Department of Defense, and Keith Martin, director of Pennsylvania’s Office of Homeland Security. The center also conducted a survey of fire, EMS, police, and other first responder organizations in the region to determine the area’s level of preparedness for responding to terrorism.

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