Photo courtesy; London School of Economics
Angelina Jolie’s latest role may be her most surprising yet. The Hollywood director and actress has been appointed a visiting professor at the prestigious London School of Economics (LSE), to teach a Master's course on the impact of war on women.
In September this year, Jolie will join former British foreign secretary William Hague as a “professor in practice,” as part of a new Master of Science course on "Women, Peace and Security," which LSE says is the first of its kind in the world.
The LSE course is aimed at helping students develop strategies to promote justice, human rights and participation for women in conflict-hit situations around the world. The Centre for Women, Peace and Security, run by Professor Christine Chinkin, opened in February 2015, in the hope of ensuring the next generation of policy-makers at the United Nations and other global institutions are schooled in this area.
“I’m a little nervous, feeling butterflies,” Jolie told the "Evening Standard" before she gave a preview of her Fall class on March 15 at LSE's Centre for Women, Peace and Security.
If Jolie suffered nerves before her warm-up lecture it didn't show. She was praised by students for her lucidity as she talked about her experience and what motivated her work as UN special envoy.
LSE student Tazeen Dhanani tweeted Jolie did "wonderfully" while Alana Foster described it as an "incredible lecture."
"She'll make an amazing visiting professor. So honoured to hear her inaugural lecture at LSE on sexual violence, rape, working with refugees," added Dhanani.
The Oscar-winning actress and William Hague have become a powerful double-act on campaigning to end sexual violence against women in conflict.
The partnership was sparked by Jolie’s 2011 directorial debut “In the Land of Blood and Honey” that was set against the backdrop of the horrors of the Bosnian war in which 20,000 women were raped. Jolie and several members of the cast received death threats after the film which is a stark portrayal of the war hit countries. Jolie's movie shows summary executions and the systematic rape of Muslim and Croat women by Serbian officers at one of the many camps set up around the country.
Hague and Jolie co-founded the Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict Initiative in 2012 to campaign against rape in war zones, and increase the numbers of perpetrators brought to justice.
Jolie and Hague are hoping the new course at LSE will help underpin their work by developing research to help tackle the culture of impunity. As a visiting professor, Jolie will deliver guest lecturers to students, participate in public events and workshops, and undertake her own research.
Jolie, an envoy for the UN refugee agency UNHCR, has long campaigned for women's rights.
Uttara Choudhury is a writer for Forbes India and The Wire. In 1997, she went on the British Chevening Scholarship to study Journalism in the University of Westminster, in London.