Grounded in social and environmental justice and human rights, the Spring World Issues Forum lecture series, organized by Western Washington University’s Fairhaven College of Interdisciplinary Studies, will focus on topics such as nationalism, immigration, and political ideologies.
The forums, now in their 16th year, are free and open to the campus community and general public. The forums are held from noon to 1:20 p.m. every Wednesday in the Fairhaven Auditorium, unless otherwise noted below.
April 11 – Alia Taqieddin, Grace Coffey, and Zi Zhang – “Refugess in Greece; Farming in Ecuador; and Global Skateboarding: Adventure Learning Grant 2016-17”
Alia Taqieddin is in her final quarter at WWU. She is a student of Community Health and is currently completing an interdisciplinary concentration at Fairhaven College. This quarter, she is student-teaching a Fairhaven course entitled “The Syrian Refugee Crisis.”
Alia was awarded the Adventure Learning Grant for the 2016-2017 school year to explore community health and resistance to occupation in the West Bank of Palestine. After having to change her plans unexpectedly, she lived and worked in central Athens alongside an international community during what has come to be known as the European Refugee Crisis. Despite being in a geographically different location than her original proposal, Alia found that resistance, home, and memory still emerged as central themes throughout her months in Greece.
Grace Coffey is a Fairhaven and Huxley student studying agriculture and Urban Planning (but not urban agriculture). She has devoted much of her life in Bellingham battling blackberries in the Outback and has journeyed through some corners of the world volunteering on farms. Her other very varied interests include bread baking, ceramics, blues dancing, housing issues, Harry Potter, trees, and climate justice.
Over the course of a year Grace traveled down through the Andes Mountains. In Medellin Colombia, she experienced the city’s innovative urban planning while volunteering in informal settlements. She lived in a rural isolated community on the border of Ecuador and Colombia for 3 months, teaching English and learning about rural economies and agriculture. In Chile she experienced urban planning and life in Valparaiso, then lived and worked on a small dairy farm. Finally, in the high, high mountains of Peru she was welcomed into indigenous Quechua farming life.
Zi Zhang’s interdisciplinary concentration is called “Urban Sustainability” and focuses on Urban Planning, Design, and Global Issues. He engaged in participant observation of skateboard cultures in Cape Town, South Africa, Guangzhou, China, and Seoul, South Korea.
April 18 – Lee Maracle, Novelist - "Indigenous People in the Global Context"
There are 350 million indigenous people in the world; all are in a similar circumstance. They are still classically colonized, robbed of their territory and live on the periphery of a globalized imperial economy that is threatening the globe. Generally speaking, Indigenous people have been “dumbed down” to a pre-civilized state. It is generally agreed that Indigenous people were non-scientific, non-theoretical, incapable of abstraction and so forth. In fact, science is just now catching up to some key understandings that Indigenous people have had for a very long time. For the most part, Indigenous people are oral and therefore cannot be believed, nor studied by western intellectuals. Why is this a problem?
Lee Maracle is the author of numerous critically acclaimed literary works including the novels Ravensong (Canadian Scholars’ Press) Daughters Are Forever (Three O’clock Press), the autobiographical Bobbi Lee: Indian Rebel (Women’s Press) and the young adult Will’s Garden (Theytus Books); the poetry collection Bent Box (Theytus); and the non-fiction collection I am Woman (Polestar/Raincoast. Maracle is also the co-editor of a number of anthologies including the award winning My Home As I Remember (Natural Heritage). She is widely published in anthologies and scholarly journals worldwide. Ms. Maracle is a member of the Sto: Lo Nation.
April 25 –Yukyung Yeo of Kyung Hee University, South Korea – “Why does China Hesitate to Impose Economic Sanctions against North Korea?”
When we assume that North Korea is not a nuclear power yet, how can we bring North Korea to the dialogue table and ultimately move toward denuclearization in Korean peninsula? To this end, the world under the leadership of the UN has been imposing strong economic sanctions against North Korea for over five years. Yet, sanctions’ effects are in doubt given the increasing missile tests and the recent successful launch of intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) since Kim Jung Un, North Korea’s supreme leader, took office in 2011. How can economic sanctions against North Korea be effective? As many argue, the role of China is critical given North Korea’s heavy reliance on resources and energy. In this talk, I will present why China still hesitates to impose economic sanctions against North Korea, stressing the elements of domestic, historical, and international politics.
Yukyung Yeo is associate professor of the College of International Studies at Kyung Hee University, South Korea. She received her doctorate in Political Science from the University of Maryland at College Park in 2007. Before joining Kyung Hee University, she worked at the City University of Hong Kong as the post-doctoral fellow during 2007-2009 and as Assistant Professor during 2009-2011. Her research areas are Chinese political economy and foreign economic policy. They include state regulation in China’s strategic industries, state-business relations, institutional changes in the socialist market economy, as well as Chinese foreign aid regime and policies. Her research has appeared in The China Quarterly, Pacific Review, Journal of Contemporary China, and China Review.
May 2 – Harsha Walia, No One Is Illegal (NOII), Vancouver Chapter – “Racism, Austerity, and Precarity: Canada’s Role in Shaping Anti-Migrant Policies”
While much attention is focused on Trump and American anti-immigrant measures, the reality is that the US looks to countries like Canada on which to model its border walls and deportation policies. Migrants and racialized communities face systemic barriers to labor rights, permanent residency, and dignity in Canada. With escalating white supremacy as a stark reality alongside the national myth of multiculturalism, how do we challenge structural racism and neoliberalism as systems that operate across state-constructed borders?
Harsha Walia is a cofounder of the migrant justice group No One Is Illegal, author of the award-winning book Undoing Border Imperialism, and Project Coordinator at the Downtown Eastside Women's Center. For the past two decades she has been involved in grassroots community organizing for migrant, racial, gender and environmental justice. Trained in the law, she has made numerous presentations to the United Nations on Canadian immigration and detention policies. Harsha is a recipient of the Canadian Center for Policy Alternatives Power of Youth Award, Westender's Best of the City in Activism Award, and was named "one of Canada's most brilliant and effective organizers" by Naomi Klein.
May 9 – Melvin Goodman, ex-CIA Analyst, National Security and Intelligence Expert – “Donald Trump’s First Year: A Report Card”
Mel Goodman will discuss the first 16 months of the Trump presidency in terms of his personnel appointments; his policies; and his process of governance. Both domestic and foreign policies will be examined, but the emphasis will be on national and international security. This has been an unusual and unprecedented presidency and, since we are in uncharted waters for the most part, there will be ample opportunity for discussion and analysis.
Goodman is a senior fellow at the Center for International Policy in Washington, D.C., and an adjunct professor of Government at Johns Hopkins University. His 42-year government career included service at the CIA, Department of State, Department of Defense, and the US Army. He was a professor of international security at the National War College for 18 years. His seven books on international security include Whistleblower at the CIA: An Insider's Account of the Politics of Intelligence, National Insecurity: The Cost of American Militarism, and The Wars of Eduard Shevardnadze. His forthcoming book is Trump's War on Intelligence, will be published by City Lights in 2019. His numerous articles and op-eds have appeared in the NY Times, the Washington Post, the Baltimore Sun, Harper's Magazine, and the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists." In 1991, he testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee against the confirmation of Robert Gates as director of the CIA. He has lectured at college campuses all over the country as well as to numerous chapters of the World Affairs Council, the Council on Foreign Relations, and various veteran’s organizations.
May 16 – Karen Litfin, Professor of Political Science, University of Washington – “Ecovillages around the World: Integrating Ecology, Economics, Community, and Consciousness”
After teaching international environmental law and politics for 20 years, Karen Litfin embarked upon a journey to ecovillages around the world to find models of living that could work for the long haul. From rural to urban, high tech to low tech, poor to affluent, and spiritual to secular communities, she learned that not only is another world possible, it is already being born in small pockets the world over. Join us for an inspiring slide presentation and discussion of how we can learn from ecovillages and scale up their lessons to existing social structures, from the local to the global.
Litfin is Associate Professor of Political Science and Environmental Studies at the University of Washington. Her books include Ozone Discourses: Science and Politics in Global Environmental Cooperation and The Greening of Sovereignty. She endeavors to integrate the intellectual, emotional, and practical dimensions of sustainability. That commitment inspired her most recent book about her travels to ecovillages around the world: Ecovillages: Lessons for Sustainable Community.
May 23 – Terence McCulley, United States Ambassador, retired – “Engaging Africa in the Era of America First”
The current U.S. administration has challenged the paradigm that governed decades of American foreign policy, dismissing the importance of traditional alliances and often questioning the value of U.S. engagement beyond our borders, including assistance to the Third World. To the extent, the Trump administration has an Africa policy — unclear a year into his presidency — it can best be characterized by malign neglect, with expletives substituting for engagement with a continent of 1.2 billion people. This discussion will examine the traditional pillars of U.S. policy toward sub-Saharan Africa, and suggest that promoting human rights, good governance, construction of democratic institutions, regional security and economic development are more effective in advancing American interests and putting “America First.”
Terence McCulley is a retired American diplomat, with more than three decades of experience in Africa. He served as U.S. Ambassador to Mali, Nigeria, and Côte d’Ivoire, and in senior roles at U.S. Embassies in Togo, Senegal, Tunisia and Denmark. Ambassador McCulley worked on Central African affairs during the Rwanda genocide. In 2016 and 2017, he was the Senior Advisor for Africa at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations in New York.
McCulley was born in Oregon, and he is a graduate of the University of Oregon. As a Rotary Foundation Graduate Fellow, he studied political science at the Université de Haute Bretagne in Rennes, France, and attended the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.
May 30 – Ibrahima Seck - A journey through slavery at the Whitney Plantation
The Whitney Plantation is located in St. John the Baptist Parish in Louisiana, about an hour west of New Orleans on the Mississippi River. This former indigo then sugar plantation is now open to the public as a museum with a focus on slavery. At Whitney, the visitors are offered a unique perspective on the lives of Louisiana’s enslaved people through the use of restored historic buildings, museums exhibits, memorial artwork and hundreds of first-person slave narratives. As a site of memory and consciousness, the Whitney Plantation Museum is meant to pay homage to all the people who were enslaved in Louisiana and elsewhere in the US South. In his lecture, Ibrahima Seck will present the history of the Whitney Plantation in the wider context of the Atlantic slave trade and will touch many topics related to the cultural legacies of slavery in Louisiana.
Seck is a member of the History department of Cheikh Anta Diop University of Dakar (UCAD), Senegal. His research is mostly devoted to the historical and cultural links between West Africa and Louisiana with a special interest for religious beliefs, music, foodways, and miscellaneous aspects of folklore. In 1999, he defended a doctoral dissertation entitled “African Cultures and Slavery in the Lower Mississippi River Valley, from Iberville to Jim Crow.” Dr. Seck now holds the position of the director of research of the Whitney Plantation Slavery Museum, which is located between Wallace and Edgard in St. John the Baptist Parish in Louisiana. He is the author of a book on this historic site entitled Bouki fait Gombo: A History of the Slave Community of Habitation Haydel (Whitney Plantation) Louisiana, 1750-1860 (New Orleans: UNO Press, 2014)