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Africa in the World Today
October 25, 2004

The new African and African Diaspora Studies minor at Calvin College and the World Affairs Council of Western Michigan are planning a joint lecture series that will introduce the African studies program at Calvin to the community-at-large, while educating people about an often-misunderstood continent.

Calvin professor of history Randal Jelks (left), director of the new minor, says: "Calvin is expanding its international connections and curriculum. We have a semester-long program in Ghana (one of 10 off campus programs) and about 10 percent of our student body is international. We believe our students and our community need to learn more about the African continent, its problems and its potential. There's a tremendous amount of ignorance about Africa among Americans. We want to change that."

Dixie Anderson, executive director of the World Affairs Council of Western Michigan, says: "The council has wanted to do a substantive series on Africa for several years. We’re pleased that Calvin has asked us to help introduce its new African Studies Program to the general community. This gives our members and other interested community members an opportunity to really delve into the critical issues surrounding Africa. I would say, after doing international programming for almost ten years in the greater Grand Rapids area, that this is the region of the world people here know the least about."

The lecture series, entitled "Africa in the World Today," begins on November 10 with a 7 pm talk in the Chapel Undercroft at Calvin by Jelks called "Reflections on Africa and Globalization."

On December 1, Calvin professor of geography Jonathon Bascom will speak at 7 pm in the Commons Lecture Hall on "Long, Last Step: The Reintegration of Repatriates in Eritrea."

A January 24, 2005 lecture as part of the Calvin January Series will be incorporated into the new Africa in the World Today series. That day "The Forgotten World: Why Africa Matters. Why Should We Care? Why We May Hope" will be given at 12:30 pm by Howard French, New York Times reporter and author of A Continent for the Taking: the Tragedy and the Hope of Africa.

The new series continues on February 2, 2005 in the Chapel Undercroft with a 7 pm talk titled "The Role of Taxes in Undermining U.S. Investment and Trade in Sub-Saharan Africa" by Allison Christians, a Calvin alum and a visiting professor at Northwestern University's School of Law.

On April 13, in the Chapel Undercroft, political science professor Amy Patterson will speak on "People Are Dying: The Politics of AIDS in Africa" and on May 4, in the Chapel Undercroft, Calvin alum Felichism Kabo, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Michigan, will speak on "Africa is not a Game Reserve! African Urbanization and the Problem of Low-Income Housing in Nairobi, Kenya."

All lectures are open to the public, with no reservations needed. Calvin College students and other students with I.D. may get into lectures free. World Affairs Council members are $5; non-members, $8.

The World Affairs Council is dedicated to educating people in western Michigan about other countries, cultures and regions of the world, as well as providing a forum for discussion of critical foreign policy issues facing this country. It has been in existence since 1949 and is a 501©3 educational non-profit organization.