New UCF program will promote awareness, focus on small countries
Published: Thursday, January 12, 2012
Updated: Thursday, January 12, 2012 21:01
People in smaller countries have serious social and economic issues that are overlooked every day, and starting this year, UCF will be implementing a new program in hopes to promote an understanding and open a discussion about these issues.
"The Isle of Man Small Countries Program" is supported by UCF's Global Perspectives Office, UCF's political science department, the Small Countries Financial Management Centre on the Isle of Man, and the Ellan Vannin Fund of the Global Connections Foundation. It seeks to promote awareness about political, economic, environmental and social issues that small countries face.
Established in 2011, the program will sponsor public discussions featuring top speakers and panels, encourage research and scholarship, and work with partners worldwide, according to the Global Perspectives website.
Jessica Gagnon, project specialist for Global Perspectives, says that the program will initially focus on countries in the Caribbean like Belize, Antigua and Jamaica, but there is no limit. People participating in the discussions will learn about how global issues affect small countries, which typically have more limited resources. The discussions begin this semester and are open to students.
"The program will help UCF students, faculty, administrators and the general public expand their international awareness and knowledge," Gagnon said. "It will also encourage more two-way communication and other relationships between UCF and small countries."
Tim Cullen, the executive director of the SCFMC, said that the program will also try to provide educational workshops for people in small countries to improve their skills in government and financial activities.
"The program will build upon the work of the center in underscoring and addressing the unique challenges facing small countries, which are disproportionately affected by global forces," Cullen said.
Though complete action isn't guaranteed, the program hopes to get things moving by first making people aware of the issues. As for UCF, establishing more connections in the Caribbean will be beneficial for its educational goals.
The university already has a major and minor in Latin American studies. UCF also has a Caribbean Student Association. CSA was formed in 1985 with the purpose to be a "home away from home" for many Caribbean students at UCF, according to its website. Today, the organization has more than 300 students and is one of the initial five student organizations that are part of UCF's Multicultural Student Center.
Aeryel "Sunshine" Williams is the current CSA president and says the "Isle of Man Small Countries Program" is a great idea and opportunity for her club members.
"It would be great if we could get someone from that office to speak to our students, and if they offer any internships or shadowing opportunities, I'm sure some of my members would be interested," Williams said.
The program could also prove to be helpful for students earning things other than just an international studies degree. Kerstin Hamann, chair of the political science department, said that the program will represent opportunity for students of all global interests.
"The program represents an excellent opportunity for cooperation in light of our new Ph.D. program in security studies," Hamann said in a recent UCF Today article.
John C. Bersia, special assistant to the president of Global Perspectives and director, said in an article in UCF Today that this will benefit the university's international ties.
"This small-countries initiative represents yet another step in UCF's efforts to sharpen its international focus and bring more global content into the regional mainstream," Bersia said.