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Focus on the Great Lakes Region of Africa: Glendon’s Award-Winning Annual International Studies Conference


This year’s conference in the award-winning series of the Glendon International Studies Programme’s Student Independent Study Project takes place on Saturday, February 26th focusing on The Great Lakes Region of Africa: Divergent Pasts, Converging Future. The project’s topic was especially chosen in order to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the annual Independent Study Project.

Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda make up the East and Central regions of Africa and together they constitute the Region of the Great Lakes. The international community has found the recent violent history of this region complex and largely incomprehensible. Although they are separate entities, the many diverse ethnic origins of the people, as well as the colonial histories of each state, have sown the seeds of the area’s current problems. The study is undertaken with the hope that the region’s nations and ethnic groups can work together to ensure a peaceful future for this part of Africa.

As in previous years, the Great Lakes Region of Africa project is entirely student-run. This year’s organizing committee consists of six International Studies students and one Economics student, working under the supervision of Professor Michael Barutciski of the International Studies Department. This endeavour is made possible with the assistance of Foreign Affairs Canada and the Glendon Principal’s Office.

The project comprises a weekly seminar exploring relevant topics throughout the academic year and leading up to the Conference on February 26th. A field study of the Great Lakes Region of Africa is expected to provide the participants with the quantitative and qualitative data they need to complete their research essays, which will ultimately be published along with the acts of the conference. As in previous years, the conference is presenting two simultaneous panel discussions throughout the day. A buffet lunch featuring African specialties, and an African singing and dance performance during the lunch will provide cultural enrichment and entertainment with a local flavour.

Several high-profile speakers and guests are expected to participate in the conference, including the honourable Anne Leahy, Canadian Ambassador to the Great Lakes Region; Dr. Sumeet Sodhi of Médecins sans frontiers; Monique Mujawamariya, president and founder of Africa Fund; Georges Tshionza Mata, General Secretary of SERACOB/Central Africa (Service de Renforcement des Appuis aux Communautés de Base en Afrique Centrale), to name just a few.

Past International Studies Programme conferences have studied a diverse selection of geographic areas, including Cuba, China, South Africa, the European Union, the Middle East, South-East Asia and Brazil. The two most recent conferences on Russia (in 2003) and India (in 2004) received prestigious awards for Student Leadership in Internationalization (from the Canadian Bureau for International Education) and Excellence in Internationalization (from Scotiabank/AUCC) respectively.

Registration online and further information on the International Studies Programme conference can be obtained at The organizing committee can also be contacted by e-mail at or by calling 416.846.5004.

Article submitted by Glendon communications officer Marika Kemeny

Published on January 26, 2005