Dr. Stephen Kandeh, assistant professor of sociology, and other USAO faculty host the Symposium on Africa April 9 at 8 a.m. in the Davis Hall Amphitheater. Special guest researchers, scholars and university faculty join to discuss Africa’s past, present and future and its affect on the globe, America and society as a whole. The symposium is free and open to the public.

USAO Hosts Africa Symposium April 9

Friday, April 3, 2009

As the world's attention continues to be centered on the global economic crises, a group of scholars, researchers and faculty will narrow their focus to poverty in Africa during the Symposium on Africa at the University of Science and Arts on April 9.

The symposium will explore the economy, politics and global impact of the continent. The event will be in the Davis Hall Amphitheater at USAO. It is free and open to the public.

Poster presentations, video and music will be on display beginning at 8 a.m., followed by the symposium from 9 a.m.-1 p.m.

“The purpose of the symposium is to provide information on African issues and research to students and members of the Chickasha community,” said Dr. Stephen Kandeh, assistant professor of sociology. “In a globalizing world where everyone is connected to everyone and everything, it behooves us to learn accurate information about Africa."

Keynote speaker for the symposium is Dr. Garth A. Myers, who holds a joint appointment in the departments of African/African-American studies and geography at the University of Kansas. He earned his doctoral degree in geography in 1993 from UCLA with an allied field concentration in urban planning.

Myers has conducted research on African development and urban planning for more than two decades. His academic record includes more than 30 publications, including the books, Verandahs of Power: Colonialism and Space in Urban Africa and Disposable Cities: Garbage, Governance, and Sustainable Development in Urban Africa. He has published articles that include Annals of the Association of American Geographers, Geographical Review, Area, Urban Studies, Political Geography, and the Journal of Modern African Studies. He earned research grants from the National Science Foundation, Fulbright, and National Geographic Society. Myers speaks fluent Kiswahili -- the most common language spoken in many east African countries.

In addition to Myers, five other guests will be featured in a roundtable discussion about poverty in Africa.

Dr. Roger C. Merkel is an assistant professor at Langston University. He leads the international programs of the E (Kika) de la Garza American Institute for Goat Research. After receiving his undergraduate degree in agriculture from the University of Illinois in 1982, Merkel spent four years in Thailand as a U.S. Peace Corps volunteer and later as a trainer. Merkel received his doctoral degree in nutrition from North Carolina State University in 1994. He joined Langston University as a post-doctoral researcher in 1998 and as a faculty member in 2000.

Among many of his research activities, Merkel has written, implemented and administered several grants with two universities in Ethiopia that have focused on human capacity building and enhancing regional food security through the establishment of women’s groups for goat production, collaborated with Oklahoma State University and the UCLA School of Medicine on research about the inclusion of animal-source foods in children’s diets in rural Ethiopia and Kenya. He also has participated in studies about revitalizing the higher education system in Iraq.

Dr. John Mooney teaches courses on early African history, the history of West Africa and the United States before 1865 at the University of Oklahoma. He completed his doctoral studies at the University of Virginia in 2007. Mooney is scheduled to examine poverty in Africa by highlighting historical events that have contributed to the poverty phenomenon on this continent.

Dr. Maxwell Kwenda is an assistant professor of sociology at Cameron University. He is scheduled to discuss the “Causes of Poverty in Africa.”

Shan J. Sappleton is a graduate teaching associate in the Political Science Department at the University of Oklahoma. She completed an undergraduate degree in Jamaica, two masters’ degrees in international relations and political science at the University of Oklahoma and is writing a dissertation on Towards Explaining Ethnic Politicization in Sub-Saharan Africa: A Comparative study of Senegal and Cote d'Ivoire for the completion of a doctoral degree in comparative politics, international relations, and political theory. Stappleton’s research interests include democratization, ethnic politics and developmental studies. She will discuss the effects of poverty on education in Africa that is based on her research in Senegal and Cote d'Ivoire

Dr. Nikolas Emmanuel is an assistant professor of political science at Oklahoma State University. He joined the faculty at OSU in 2008 after his doctorate program at the University of California, Davis. His doctoral research focused on foreign aid, state collapse and U.S. foreign policy towards Africa. Emmanuel will examine poverty in Africa from the point of view of the Obama Administration’s policy towards Africa.

“Africa’s future is extremely relevant, both to our campus and the U.S. society as a whole,” Kandeh said, who is from Sierra Leone. “Many of our students may, in time, be faced with policy making, investment or research opportunities that may have something to do with Africa.

“As a society, it is important to know that U.S. policy is never complete without Africa. An emergent constituency in the U.S. claims close ties to this continent, forcing legislative consideration at all times. But more importantly, African resources are crucial to our world economy and daily living here in America.”

More information is available from Stephen Kandeh by phone at (405) 574-1243 or by email at skandeh@usao.edu.