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NIU faculty to discuss Horn of Africa

September 27, 2011

An estimated 12 million people in East Africa are being affected by one of the worst droughts in more than half a century.

Northern Illinois University Women’s Studies and NGOLD (Center for NGO Leadership and Development) are sponsoring a teach-in on the current famine and humanitarian crisis in the Horn of Africa.

The event, “Horn of Plenty? Famine: Man-made Natural Disaster in Africa,” will be held from noon to 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 12, in Room 100 of the NIU Campus Life Building. The event is free and open to the public.

The famine and humanitarian crisis in the Horn of Africa constitute a complex situation affected by history, weather and climate change, political instability, security issues and more. The teach-in, which is held the week before World Hunger Day, features three NIU professors from different disciplines sharing their knowledge about the situation in Africa:

  • Sibel Kusimba, associate professor of anthropology, will speak on the geographical, cultural and historical background of the Horn of Africa as well as the effects of climate change and social inequalities.
  • Abu Bah, associate professor of sociology, will address issues related to failed states and conflict in addition to exploring the concept of human security versus state security.
  • Judith Hermanson, director of NGOLD, will focus on how nongovernmental organizations mobilize in crises and how individuals can help.

A discussion moderated by Amy Levin, director of the Women’s Studies Program, will follow the brief presentations.

This is the second teach-in co-sponsored by NGOLD and the Women’s Studies Program.  Last year, the two units collaborated in planning a well-attended event on the earthquake in Japan.

Teach-ins were a popular form of activism in the 1960s and have continued today. According to, “Teach-ins are information sessions on recent events which people may not be able to understand clearly through news sources alone. It is a chance to inform people about an issue and provide them with opportunities to take action. Thus teach-ins are meant to be interactive as well as informative. Participants of a teach-in are welcome to ask questions and discuss issues so that they can understand the topic clearly.”

For additional information, call (815) 753-1038 or (815) 753-4410. Space is limited; interested participants should indicate if they are bringing groups.