WWU’s Fairhaven College Announces Fall World Issues Forum Slate

Grounded in social and environmental justice and human rights, the Fall World Issues Forum lecture series, organized by Western Washington University’s Fairhaven College of Interdisciplinary Studies, in conjunction with Western’s Fraser Lecture Series, will focus on a theme this quarter of global health, bringing in experts from the around the world to discuss such themes as family planning in Rwanda, the health and wellbeing of refugees in Norway, and malaria control in Africa.

The forums, now in their 17h year, are free and open to the campus community and general public. The forums are held from 11:30 a.m. to 12:50 p.m. every Wednesday in the Fairhaven Auditorium, unless otherwise noted below.


Wednesday, Oct. 2

“Closing the Rich-Poor Gap in Contraceptive Use in Rwanda”

Presenter: Dieudonné N. Muhoza, senior lecturer in the Department of Applied Statistics at the University of Rwanda

Topic:  Rwanda has made impressive progress in contraceptive use in the last decade. The contraceptive prevalence rate increased from 17 percent to 53 percent between 2005 and 2015. Unexpectedly, contraceptive uptake was higher among the less educated, poor, and rural populations than among the better educated, rich, or urban. This study provides elements of explanation for this unexpected increase and absence of historical disparities in contraceptive prevalence and formulates relevant policy implications and recommendations.


Wednesday, Oct. 9

 “Health and Wellbeing of Young Refugees in Norway”

Presenter: Fungisai Gwanzura Ottemoller, associate professor of Health Promotion and Health Psychology at the University of Bergen, Norway

Topic: This lecture presents a case of the refugee situation in Europe, focusing on the transitions of young refugees into Norwegian society. Ottemoller uses a health promotion perspective with a focus on the social determinants of health, and will discuss the notion of equality that underpins Norway’s social, welfare and political structures. She argues that growing diversity within the country, especially from the Global South, challenges this ideal. Drawing on current research projects, Ottemoller utilizes acculturation and salutogenesis theories to examine the complexity of the interplay between refugees’ experiences and aspirations, Norwegian society’s perceptions of diversity, the policy arena and political rhetoric.


Wednesday, Oct. 16

“Malaria Control in Africa: The Story So Far”

Presenters: Tsiri Agbenyega, professor of Physiology in the School of Medical Sciences, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Ghana

Topic: Malaria is a life-threatening disease caused by parasites that are transmitted to people through the bites of infected female Anopheles mosquitoes. It is preventable and curable. In 2017, there were an estimated 219 million cases of malaria in 87 countries. The estimated number of malaria deaths stood at 435,000 in 2017. The World Health Organization (WHO) African Region carries a disproportionately high share of the global malaria burden. In 2017, the region was home to 92 percent of malaria cases and 93 percent of malaria deaths.

Children under 5 years of age are the most vulnerable group affected by malaria; in 2017, they accounted for 61 percent (266,000) of all malaria deaths worldwide. The WHO “Global Technical Strategy for Malaria 2016-2030” – adopted by the World Health Assembly in May 2015 – provides a technical framework for all malaria-endemic countries. It is intended to guide and support regional and country programs as they work towards malaria control and elimination. Agbenyega will discuss the history of elimination of malaria from some parts of the developed world, the measures the developing world is taking towards the elimination of malaria and the possibility that malaria could come back to North America.


Wednesday, Oct. 23

“Enhancing the Role of Critical Theory and Indigenous Knowledge in Health Promotion Theory and Practice”

Presenter: Oliver Mweemba, lecturer/researcher in the Department of Health Promotion and Education, at the University of Zambia

Topic: Health promotion is a “process of enabling people to increase control over, and improve their health”. This implies that people must be empowered to control the circumstances and contexts that affect their health. This empowerment agenda requires a deep interrogation of the society we live in. People need to confront issues of ideology, power, hegemony, and social justice and reclaim their self-identity and knowledge systems as resources for health. In this lecture, Mweemba argues and illustrate that studying and applying critical theory and indigenous knowledge systems are a powerful tool to enhance the empowerment agenda of health promotion.


Wednesday, Oct. 30

(Re)Thinking Complex Health Problems from a Multidimensional Approach: Chagas Disease in Argentina and Beyond

Presenter: Mariana Sanmartino, researcher for the National Board of Scientific and Technical Research (CONICET) in the Grupo de Didáctica de las Ciencias (La Plata, Argentina)

Topic: Chagas disease is frequently referred to as the effects that the parasite Trypanosoma cruzi has on people’s health. However, the biomedical and epidemiological aspects, most frequently addressed, are just some pieces of this complex puzzle. Social, environmental, economic, political, cultural, and educational elements are essential in comprehending the magnitude of the problem without stigmatizations. From these reflections, Sanmartino will share aspects of a “kaleidoscopic” perspective that aims to promote joint work between different social actors, in a great diversity of contexts, with the purpose of getting more and more voices talking about Chagas.


Wednesday, Nov. 6

“Transforming Masculinities in South Asia: Exploring Gender Justice with Men”

Presenter: Abhijit Das, director of the Centre for Health and Social Justice in India, and clinical associate professor in the Department of Global Health at the University of Washington.

Topic: The presentation will cover two decades of work in different states of India to explore how men and boys could contribute to gender equality. Gender equality requires transformation in the existing gender power relationships in the family, community and in institutions. Using grounded examples, the presentation will demonstrate how this work has led to a greater understanding of how masculinities get shaped and can be transformed through an intersectional understanding of privilege and discrimination These lessons around gender transformative change are now being integrated within some public programs in India and on the other hand are also contributing to building a large social movement of men as partners of gender equality.


Wednesday, Nov. 13

Advancing Adolescent Health and Development: The Role of Social and Behavior Change Communication

Presenter: Susan Ajok, executive director of Straight Talk Foundation, Uganda

Topic: Young people in Uganda constitute the majority of the country's population and yet often limited plans exist for addressing access to services that improve their health and wellbeing. Many young people engage in sexual activity with little or no knowledge about how to protect themselves against the risks of sexually transmitted infections and unplanned pregnancy. Other challenges include having to balance the expectations of the traditional, often conservative, norms against the increasing exposure, through the mass media, to modern ideals.  The presentation will highlight Straight Talk Foundation work in serving adolescents and responding to specific populations needs for health and development.


Wednesday, Nov. 20

An Inclusive Grant Making Facility Enabling Rightsholders to Come to their Voice

Presenter: Ruth Kimani, Regional Roving grants coordinator for the Voice Program, Africa Region

Topic: Empowerment processes within and among rightsholders is an essential first step before expressing and raising one’s voice.  Investments towards such processes should therefore be very intentional, to ensure inclusion of voices that have remained underrepresented in development processes. Unequal power dynamic exists between the donor and the grantee which often inhibits the self-empowerment processes. In the lecture, Kimani will showcase such efforts made through the Voice grant facility particularly in reaching sexual and gender minorities in countries that have discriminative laws.


For more information about the Fairhaven College of Interdisciplinary Studies World Issues Forum, call (360) 650-6680 or email Fairhaven.college@wwu.edu.

Friday, September 27, 2019 - 10:29am
Ruth Kimani, Regional Roving grants coordinator for the Voice Program, Africa Region, will be the Nov. 20 World Issues Forum speaker

Ruth Kimani, Regional Roving grants coordinator for the Voice Program, Africa Region, will be the Nov. 20 World Issues Forum speaker.