Third World Studies conference celebrates global scholarship

13th December 2016

By Steven Krolak

(NEW ALBANY, Ind.)—Last month, scholars from around the world gathered at IU Southeast for the 34th annual meeting of the Association of Third World Studies (ATWS).

Chaired by Dr. Doyin Coker-Kolo, dean of the School of Education and president-elect of the ATWS, the conference unfolded as a lively blend of academic presentations and panels, discussions and debates, and social gatherings both congenial and festive.

The ATWS was founded in 1983 at Georgia Southwestern University in Millersville, Ga. by Dr. Harold Isaacs, a historian, and has been dedicated to the study of the nations and societies of the developing world. This year’s conference was the first since the passing of Dr. Isaacs. Attendees used the occasion both to celebrate the legacy of the organization he had founded through their presentations and dialogue, but also to set a new course very much in his spirit. The record will show that it was at IU Southeast that the organization formally changed its name to the Association of Global South Studies (AGSS), with a shift in perspective that more accurately reflects the independence, energy and importance of developing nations.

Exchanging global perspectives

The conference kicked off with a reception in the IU Southeast Library, combined with a tour of the Center for Cultural Resources, where the visitors learned of this unit’s unique contribution to supporting educators in the region in the area of social studies.

Panels dominated the next two days, with topics spanning social, economic, geopolitical and educational issues, as well as human rights and security.

On Monday, IU Southeast students of Dr. James Hollenbeck presented posters examining interrelationships between science and social issues affecting populations from and in the developing world.

Kenda Eley, a secondary education student with a concentration in social studies, presented on overcoming barriers to education in the developing world. To research the topic, she had interviewed an educator living in Rwanda whose worldview had been very much altered through the experience.

“It really gave me an in-depth analysis of the education system that I couldn’t have gotten reading research or books about Rwanda,” Eley said.

Overall, she noted that participating in the conference had broadened her own worldview, making her better able to expand the worldview and rang of opportunities of her students.

“It made me more excited about investing in other people,” Eley said.

A round-table facilitated by Dr. Neil Brewer and Claudia Crump, director of the CCR, elicited an exchange of cultural perspectives from the diverse participants.

As at all ATWS meetings, the closing banquet was an opportunity for the members to come together, celebrate their field and also display festive attire from their native countries, including Nigeria and Ghana. Awards were given for the best achievements in the field, and the contribution of IU Southeast units and volunteers was also recognized.

Dialogue and diversity

IU Southeast Chancellor Dr. Ray Wallace delivered the keynote address on the topic of “The 21st Century Irish Diaspora,” drawing parallels between recent migrations from Ireland and the current forced mass movement of peoples throughout the developing world and into Europe and North America, as well as the discordant and sometimes hostile reception they have received.

Wallace’s presentation underscored the relevance of interdisciplinary perspectives such as those championed by the AGSS, and also reinforced IU Southeast’s position at the forefront of institutions dedicated to international dialogue and diversity.

It also reflected the broad range of campus units that contributed time, funding and effort to the event. These included the Offices of the Chancellor and Academic Affairs, the Center for Cultural Resources, the Offices of International Programs, Marketing and Communications, Conference and Catering, and of course the School of Education.

Click on the thumbnails below to relive this memorable moment in the life of IU Southeast.

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