James E. Smith World Affairs Conference Scheduled March 8-9 at UNK

Ann Marie Park
International Education, 308.865.8944

UNK– “Creating Hope: Positive Responses to Global Challenges” is the theme for the 2010 James E. Smith Midwest Conference on World Affairs Sunday – Monday, March 8-9, at the University of Nebraska at Kearney.

In all, there will be 28 speakers from Nigeria, Vietnam, Uzbekistan and India presenting during the conference. The annual two-day conference, which is sponsored each year by one of the four UNK colleges, is coordinated through the UNK Office of International Education. The presentations are free and open to the public.

“Panel discussions, lectures, classroom presentations and group activities give attendees exposure to a variety of issues and the opportunity to interact with distinguished guests from all over the world,” said Ann Marie Park, UNK international program coordinator.

“Given the geographic location of Nebraska as the center of the continental United States, this conference is, for many people, their best chance to interact with representatives of other cultures,” she said.

“Many issues that shape the quality of our lives have an international dimension,” Park said. “Global economic interdependence, the development of appropriate environmental strategies, the resolution of regional conflicts and the enhancement of human rights all require a global perspective.

“As we slowly emerge from the most serious economic crisis since the Great Depression and work to extricate ourselves from two wars, many in the United States are inclined to look for hopeful signs in the world we inhabit,” she said. “As citizens of the world, we try to imagine creative responses to the challenges we must all face together, and seek to build sustainable development strategies that will provide a better life for all.”

This year, writers, poets, activists, diplomats, scholars and entrepreneurs from Nigeria, Cuba, Oman, Russia, Vietnam, Uzbekistan, China and India will speak about initiatives currently taking place around the world that can make a difference in the lives of individuals and in the interactions of groups, nations and states, Park added.

“Through their speeches, we hope to introduce UNK faculty, students and the broader Kearney community to just a few of the positive responses currently taking place, and how they affect the United States and Nebraska,” Park said. “It is our hope that members of the audience will be sufficiently inspired by what they hear at the conference to maintain a life-long interest in international affairs and pursue further information about the outside world through reputable media sources. We also hope that some students may choose to consider study abroad.”

Recognizing the need to bring a strong international component to an undergraduate education, UNK began the Midwest Conference on World Affairs in the 1960s as an annual conference on global issues. In 1988, the conference was renamed “The James E. Smith Midwest Conference on World Affairs” in honor of a former history professor whose vision and dedication significantly affected the continuation of the conference.

Previous topics have included, “Images of Culture,” “Education: Change Agent for the New Millennium,” “The Dilemma of Social Justice in a Global Age” and “The Global Economy: Promises & Perils of an Uncertain Frontier.” In 2004, UNK hosted the former President of Ireland Mary Robinson, who spoke on “Human Rights and the War on Terrorism.”

The James E. Smith Midwest Conference of World Affairs schedule is as follows:

Sunday, March 7

4-7 p.m. – Scott and Cheryl Morris International and Intercultural Food Festival, UNK Health and Sports Center.

Monday, March 8

9-10 a.m. – Opening address, “Wondrous Journey–A World Filled With Kindness, Dignity and Respect,” by Dean Jacobs, U.S. newspaper columnist/photojournalist. Ponderosa Room E.

10:10-11 a.m.  Poetry by Cuban poet Nancy Morejon. Ponderosa Room E.

11:15 a.m.-12:05 p.m. – “Latin American and Political Struggle” by Cecelia Zarate-Laun, Colombia Support Network Program director; Stephanie Bergeman, Consulate of Brazil foreign trade officer; Jesus Rodriguez-Espinoza, Consulate of Venezuela consul general; and Patricia Maza-Pittford, Consulate of El Salvador consul general. Ponderosa Rooms C and D.

11:15 a.m.-12:05 p.m. – “Human Rights and Journalism” by Tamara Banks, U.S. journalist/activitst; Dean Jacobs, U.S. newspaper columnist/photojournalist; Robert Borje, Embassy of the Philippines third secretary and vice consul; and Ricardo Kellman, Embassy of Barbados first secretary. Ponderosa Rooms A and B.

1:25-2:15 p.m. – “Environmental Challenges: Climate Change,” by Bayney Karran, Embassy of Guyana ambassador; Soren Jensen, Embassy of Denmark deputy head of mission; and Thomas Schnoell, Consulate of Austria consulate general. Ponderosa Rooms C and D.

1:25-2:15 p.m. – “Comparative Experiences in Education” by Lucy Kiruthu, Embassy of Kenya first counselor of education; Aysha Murad Ali, Embassy of the Kingdom of Bahrain cultural counselor; Huei-wen Hsu education director of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Chicago.

7:30 p.m. – Keynote address: “The American Empire: A Libretto in Eight Movements” by Chris Abani, PEN Freedom-to-Write award-winning Nigerian author. UNK Fine Arts Building Miriam Drake Theater.

Tuesday, March 9

9:30-10:45 a.m. – “Positive Changes in Human Rights and Business” by Cecelia Zarate-Laun, Colombia Support Network Program director and Kevin Ashley, U.S. businessman/entrepreneur in Africa. Ponderosa Rooms C and D.

9:30-10:45 a.m. – “Creative Writing: Open Session and Discussion with Chris Abani.”

11-12:15 p.m.  “Comparative Experiences in Education” by Dr. Fatma Al-Lawati, Ruwi, Oman sultanate of Oman; Dr. Ulla Aatsinki, University of Tampere in Tampere, Finland; and Maimouna Doukoure, Embassy of Cote d’ lvoire education officer. Ponderosa Rooms C and D.

11-12:15 p.m. – “Building Business in Africa” by Kevin Ashley, U.S. businessman/entrepreneur in Africa; George Ndahendekire Ndyamuba, Embassy of Uganda first secretary; Johnny Moloto, Embassy of South Africa deputy chief of mission; Tebogo Kola, Embassy of South Africa first secretary of public diplomacy. Ponderosa Rooms A and B.

3:15 p.m.  “Economics and Sustainable Development” by Mohamed Shameem Ashan, Embassy of Bangladesh political minister; Dr. Venkatachalam Lingappan, Mandras Institute for Development Studies associate professor; Dr. Hoi Quoc Le, National Economics University in Hanoi, Vietnam deputy chief editor and lecturer; and Benny Bahanadewa, Consulate of the Republic of Indonesia consul general. Ponderosa Rooms C and D.

7:30 p.m. – Keynote Address: Tamara Banks, U.S. journalist/activist. Ponderosa Room E.