Ann Marie Harr
James E. Smith Midwest Conference on World Affairs coordinator, 308.865.8944

The public is invited to attend the James E. Smith Midwest Conference on World Affairs at the University of Nebraska at Kearney campus March 10-12, 2002. Former President of Costa Rica, Nobel Peace Prize recipient, and this year’s keynote speaker, Dr. Oscar Arias, will speak about the world after 9/11. Sponsored this year by the College of Natural and Social Sciences, the 2002 conference theme is “The Dilemma of Social Justice in a Global Age.”

Speakers and performers representing over 20 countries will be guests at UNK during the week giving lectures and presentations on subjects ranging from nation building and human rights to the future of social justice. Government officials from Costa Rica, Switzerland, Austria, Belarus, Cote d’Ivorie, Gambia, Grenada, Mexico, and Morocco have been invited to attend as well as Fulbright Scholars Leila Baishina of Kazakhstan and Mikihiko Wada of Japan.

The conference opens on Sunday evening at 6:30 p.m. with the International Food Festival in the Health and Sports Center. The festival, which is free and open to the public, is hosted by the International Student Association and sponsored by Morris Press. Masaji Terasawa from Japan will provide entertainment. Also known as the “Candy Man,” he creates toys out of candy sweets in an art similar to glass blowing. On March 11, Elisabeth Kopp, Former Minister of Justice and Police of the Swiss Federal Government, will present her talk “Terror and Justice” at 9:05 a.m. in the Cedar Room of the Nebraskan Student Union. The week will be filled with speakers and panels discussing the topics of social justice and diplomacy, globalization of the environment, the influence of socially responsible investing on social justice, the future of social justice: harmony or perpetual war, and Afghanistan in the 21st century.

The conference will conclude on March 12 at 7:30 p.m. in the Health and Sports Center with the keynote address “The Struggle for Peace in the New Millennium” which will be given by Dr. Oscar Arias. Dr. Arias was the President of Costa Rica from 1986-1990, and as president in 1987 he brought together nine Latin American presidents in order to develop and establish the Arias Peace Plan or the “Procedures to Establish a Firm and Lasting Peace in Central America.” He was the recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1988 for his instrumental efforts in ending the decades of political violence that wracked Central America. Chancellor Gladys Style-Johnston will also give a welcome and introduction of all invited guests from the week. The night will be concluded with a reception in the Health and Sports Center main arena upper concourse.

The first World Affairs Conference was held in 1964 under the direction of James Todd. In 1966, James E. Smith joined the UNK faculty and brought his influence to the conferences that were held every year from 1964-1975. Due to lack of funding in the twelve-year period between 1976-1988, the conference was not held but was reinstated in 1988 as the James E. Smith Conference on World Affairs. Since then, the World Affairs Conference has been included in the annual budget of the university. Each year the leadership of the event rotates among the four undergraduate colleges—Fine Arts and Humanities, Education, Natural and Social Sciences, and Business and Technology.

The three main goals of the World Affairs Conference are (1) to introduce important global issues to the students and local community; (2) to expose conference participants to a variety of viewpoints from other countries; and (3) to promote international education.