Students to Discuss Challenges Facing Africa

Approximately 200 college students from throughout Georgia will gather at Columbus State Universitys Cunningham Center Nov. 3-5 to develop solutions to key economic, social, and political-security issues facing the African continent.

The conference, named the 2005 Southeast Model African Union, simulates proceedings of the African Union, similar to the Model U.N.

Fifteen University System of Georgia schools will send one or two, seven-member delegations each representing a different African nation. CSU students, for example, will separately play the roles of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Tanzania. Another 50 CSU students will observe proceedings at various times.

To prepare for this simulated summit, participants, led by faculty advisers, have researched issues specific to their assigned nations. Such issues may include revenue distribution, AIDS and other diseases, ethnic/religious disputes and external pressures for free and fair elections.

The event will give students an opportunity to learn diplomacy and governmental organization while likely enhancing their understanding of the political, economic and cultural dimensions of different African countries and how they relate to each other and the rest of the world as members of the African Union, said CSU Sociology Professor Florence Wakoko, who directs CSU's African Studies Program and the conference.

Experience has shown that this mode of learning is very empowering. When the delegation members take on characteristics of their chosen countries and develop an understanding of African issues from an African perspective, they gain knowledge that is rewarding to them in their collegiate and community endeavors, Wakoko said.

A 1-4 p.m. opening session on Thursday, Nov. 3 will feature the keynote speaker, political science Professor Michael Nwanze, who directs the National Model African Union Conference at Howard University in Washington. Later on Thursday, Soweto Street Beat, a South African dance troupe, will perform for the conference participants. The program, named Africa Cultural Night, also is open to the public and will begin at 8 p.m. in the Cunningham Center.

The University System of Georgia Africa Council facilitates the 9-year-old conference that CSU is hosting for the first time. Another first for the event will be a related faculty development workshop on African studies curriculum integration and course building that will run concurrently, Nov. 3-4, in the Lumpkin Center Presidents Club.

Facilitated by the systems Certificate in African Studies Project, the workshop will focus on online course development and related uses of information technology. Participant demonstrations will include CSU education professors Bonita Williams and Paulina Kuforiji, who are working on a research project focused on African values in education titled: It Takes A Village: A Resource Development Project.

Also, business administration Professor Eric Travis and sociology professors John Studstill and Florence Wakoko will demonstrate online courses they individually created to be accessible to all state students in 2006-07: International Business in Africa by Travis, African Educational Development by Studstill and African Women and Development by Wakoko.

For more information on the Southeast African Model Union and the faculty workshops at CSU, call (706) 565-3579 or 565-3577.