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Alumnus talks North Korean denuclearization, humanitarian crisis

As a scholar in foreign relations with concentrations in East Asia and nuclear studies, Creighton University alumnus Davis Florick, BA’10, MA’15, has lately been answering a certain question about a certain East Asian nation and its nascent nuclear weapons program.

He can give several variations on a standard answer as the brilliant policy scholar and civil servant that he is, but Florick often tries to steer the conversation back to more glaring and tragic crises.

“From a personal standpoint, I don’t really care if North Korea has nuclear weapons,” Florick told a roomful of Creighton students and faculty Nov. 16 during a lecture he presented titled “North Korean Denuclearization: What Might It Look Like?” “The humanitarian issues are the really troubling thing. In other parts of the world, when we see this kind of humanitarian crisis, Americans go crazy about it. But when it comes to North Korea, it’s only the nuclear weapons. There are more things to worry about than nuclear weapons.”

The primacy of a humanitarian outlook is something Florick said Creighton helped engender in his international outlook. Through a broad spectrum of studies both a graduate and undergraduate student, Florick said he can’t just look at wider political issues as faceless policy questions.

“Absolutely not,” says Florick, a master’s graduate of Creighton’s East-West Studies program, now a special assistant to the United States’ Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Policy and a doctoral student in George Mason University’s international relations program. “The Jesuit education at Creighton was central for me in always thinking about the humanitarian side of things. Theology 205, Old Testament. It’s about doing what’s right. What’s so hard about that?”

Florick spoke and answered questions for more than an hour on the topic of North Korea’s nuclear ambitions, recent diplomatic feints toward that isolated nation by the U.S., and the perspectives of China, Russia, South Korea, and other countries.

A mentee of Maorong Jiang, PhD, associate professor of political science and director of Creighton’s Asian World Center, Florick has gone on to compile an impressive résumé with stints as a senior fellow in the United Kingdom-based Human Security Centre’s Security and Defence Division, a James A. Kelley nonresident fellow with the Pacific Forum, and adding publications in International Affairs Review, The Diplomat, and International Affairs Forum.

“Davis is the kind of graduate that Creighton can be proud to call home and have speak with clarity and compassion on crucial subjects in the world today,” said Jiang, who himself will deliver a talk to the Department of Defense on North Korean denuclearization in the new year. “We look forward to seeing what else lies in store for Davis’ agile, humane and thoughtful mind.”

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