Fall 2016

Thursday, September 15, 2016
MG 2001
7:00 pm
Co-Sponsor: Hispanic Heritage Month
Speaker: Margaret Power, Professor of History, Illinois Institute of Technology
Title: Transnational Latin American Solidarity with the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party in the 1950s and beyond

Abstract: Historian Margaret Power uses the stories of Carlos Padilla and Rosa Meneses, two members of the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party (PRNP), to examine three issues related to Puerto Rico and Latin America in the 1950s. First, the PRPN worked with revolutionary forces throughout the Americas to further the twin goals of freeing all Nationalist political prisoners and securing solidarity with Puerto Rican independence. Second, they were part of trans Latin American anti-imperialist and exile networks that supported each other, worked together, and shared ideas and resources to further their national struggle as well as those of other Latin Americans. Third, their histories reveal an impressive level of solidarity that Latin American revolutionaries, progressives, and nationalists expressed with Puerto Rico in general and the Nationalist Party and Nationalist political prisoners during the 1950s and beyond. The issues this presentation addresses largely occurred prior to the 1959 Cuban revolution, but they provide insight into the revolutionary currents that existed throughout Latin America in the pivotal decade leading up to it.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016
SUB Georgian C
1:30 pm
Co-Sponsor: Hispanic Heritage Month
Speaker: Martín Fernández, National Coordinator, Movement for Dignity and Justice (MADJ)
Title: The Fight against Corruption and Impunity in Honduras: Justice for Berta and Beyond

Abstract: The 2009 military coup in Honduras cemented the Central American nation as a hotbed of human rights abuses, the new frontier in the US-led War on Drugs, and an all-out plunder of national territory and resources. Those who resist are targeted and killed with a level of impunity unheard of in the 21st century in Latin America; the March 2nd assassination of beloved Indigenous leader Berta Cáceres is an example of state crime and impunity amongst many. Those who head North are often sent back to the very violence and poverty from which they fled. The heart of the crisis is the US policies of militarization, the legitimization of a brutal Honduran State, and the promotion of crony capitalism. For the Honduran people, the results are violent and devastating, but their inspiring resistance continues.

Thursday, October 20, 2016
MG 2001
7:00 pm
Co-sponsor: Center for Academic Excellence
Speaker: Geoffrey Bergen, consultant for the World Bank and USAID
Title: International Development: Is there hope?

Abstract: There has been a war of words in recent years over the merits of international development assistance. Advocates for ongoing and increased aid flows to developing countries such as Jeffrey Sachs argue that these are necessary to boost those countries and their poorest citizens out of the “poverty trap.” Opponents of aid (or at least the way aid is currently administered) argue that development assistance undermines their self-reliance; or as 2015 Nobel Laureate (in Economics) Angus Deaton claims, it allows corrupt and ineffective governments to avoid responsibility towards their citizens. From the perspective of his long experience in international development agencies, Dr. Geoff Bergen will discuss ever-changing theories and the complex realities of international development in actual practice. His discussion will focus on both the successes and failures he has witnessed in countries where he has worked, stressing the ways in which politics on both the giving and receiving end of aid, and institutional characteristics of aid organizations like the World Bank, influence development outcomes. He will also reflect on the joys and sorrows of a career in international development and offer guidance for students contemplating going into one.

Thursday, November 10, 2016, 7:00 pm, MG 2001
Speaker: Hemanta Kafley, Assistant Professor of Biology, Tarleton State University, and Brad Thornton, Biology and Environmental Studies, Truman State University
Title: Natural Treasures in Peril: Challenges and Successes in Conservation from the Himalayas
Co-Sponsor: Department of Biology

Abstract: Biodiversity conservation is in crisis. Globally, species are going extinct at a faster rate than ever before. This is even acute in many resource-poor countries where food security must be prioritized and financial resources for combating biodiversity loss is always in short supply. Despite this, Bhutan and Nepal, very small and resource-deprived countries, have been adopting various social and cultural measures along with the other active resource management strategies that have helped the countries to protect their natural treasures- range of forests types from tropical to high-Himalayan ecoregions, and incredible diversity of wildlife such as rhinos, elephants, red panda, tigers, and leopards. Addressing the issues and challenges these countries have been facing for preserving their natural resources, Dr. Hemanta Kafley will highlight some of the strategies these countries have employed emphasizing the people’s indigenous knowledge, cultural norms, and social values for ensuring desired ecosystem services to the local people.  Truman student Brad Thornton will draw upon personal experience from a semester in Bhutan to share challenges and successes from this mountain kingdom.

Thursday, December 1, 2016
MG 2001
7:00 pm
Co-Sponsor: School for Social and Cultural Studies, Department of Society & Environment, and Department of Economics
Speaker: Samson Wasao, African Institute for Development Policy, Nairobi, Kenya
Title: Youth and African Development-Harnessing the Demographic Dividend

Abstract: Africa is the most youthful continent with about 20 percent of its total population of about 1 billion people being persons of age 15-24 while those under age 30 constitute about 65% of the continent’s population. This youthful population provides both an opportunity for facilitating development but also creates a challenge to the development prospects of the continent. It has been estimated that Africa will account for about 80 percent of the projected 4 billion increase in the global population by 2100. This means that the working age population will increase and thereby create a window of opportunity, which if properly harnessed, can translate into higher economic growth and yield economic dividend arising from this growth in the youthful population. With supporting policies that foster development of human capital and job-creation among others, such growth can lead to substantial improvements in the overall wellbeing of African countries and fast-track the development of the continent.