Photo by Maximillian Tortoriello

Getting a Global Perspective

Things have changed a bit since the first time Debby Liebenow Daly (B.A. ’73) went to Africa. When she was a child, she went with her parents to live in Liberia, and it took a month-long journey on a freighter just to get there. When she returned to the continent in 1998 with her husband, John Daly (B.A. ’74, Ph.D. ’87), it was a simple matter of a plane ride.

You could say that Debby grew up with a global perspective, thanks to the work of her father, J. Gus Liebenow, professor emeritus of political science and founder of the College of Arts and Sciences' African Studies Program. During her youth, Debby lived in various locales in Africa with her parents, including Liberia and Sierra Leone.

“Part of my soul is in Africa,” she says.

But, after her father’s extensive work there, she didn’t see herself getting involved in African studies again. And then one day, John came home and suggested they try for a Fulbright. To Swaziland.

He got that Fulbright, and the trip kindled the Dalys’ love of Swaziland and sub-Sahara Africa, a love that remains as strong as ever today.

“There’s something in the human condition about Africa that pulls you in and it doesn’t let you go,” Debby says. “The continent just grabs you.”

Alumni John and Debby Daly.

John received a second Fulbright to return to the country in 2005, and then received a third to return again in 2016. The trips, the Dalys say, have altered the course of both of their careers. Prior to his involvement in the international space, John had focused primarily on domestic public administration.

“I’m a traditional public administration faculty member, predominantly teaching human resource management, labor relations, and strategic management,” says John, who in addition to his degrees from the College holds an M.P.A. from the School of Public and Environmental Affairs. “But I clearly could see that the field [in public administration and public policy] was becoming an international field.”

And after her time in Swaziland, Debby wrote The Kingdom of Roses and Thorns, a book detailing the struggles of five Swazi women.

After their numerous (and continued) travels to Africa and around the world, the Dalys see the vital importance of an international and global perspective on teaching and learning.

John and Debby pose with a portrait of Debby's father, J. Gus Liebenow, founder of the College's African Studies Program.

“We absolutely have to prepare our students for a very globally connected world,” Debby says. “We live in a very small world, and we do our students at universities an injustice if we don’t expect them to understand this. We are interconnected whether people want to believe it or not.”

And the Dalys see that Indiana University is responding to that need with the College’s School of Global and International Studies. They also see reflected in that school the legacy of Debby’s father.

“What the new school is doing is replicating [what Liebenow started with the African Studies Program] on a global basis, and they’re taking it into a new generation,” John says. “What I think is wonderful is that the university is walking the talk. By that I mean, they are putting resources behind the school and giving it the kind of visibility that it needs. It wants to be a leader in the field. It doesn’t just want to be a presence.”

Jennifer Garrett

Jennifer Garrett is a freelance writer and editor living in the Boston area. With more than 15 years of experience, her work has covered a wide range of subjects, from topics in higher education to the real estate and mortgage industries. Connect with her on LinkedIn or reach her at