Thursday Afternoons 1:30 - 3:30pm

To say ‘Africa’ is to evoke many images in the Western imagination, too many of them negative. In this short tour d’ horizon, the many faces of Africa are set in a context to help us think more completely and carefully about a complex and vast continent and its people. Several Waterloo and Guelph professors will address some of the issues and facets of this vast and complex continent.


Thursday Jan 11 - 21st Century Africas - To say ‘Africa’ is to evoke many images in the Western imagination, too many of them negative. In this short tour d’ horizon, the many faces of Africa are set in a context to help us think more completely and carefully about a complex and vast continent and its people. Remember, ‘Out of Africa, there is always something new’- Pliny the Elder.


Larry Swatuk - Professor, International Development, School of Environment, Enterprise and Development, University of Waterloo.  In the early 1990s, his research focused on environmental and resource governance with a specific focus on water resources. Prof. Swatuk lived for 14 years in Africa where he was a lecturer at the University of Botswana. His current research focus on the unintended consequences of climate change adaptation and mitigation interventions. He is author of A Glass Half-Full: Water in Southern Africa, forthcoming from UKZN Press.

Thursday Jan 18 - Learning from African Peacebuilders - We may think that "Africa" is often at war with itself. Yetw thin over 50 countries and hundreds more cultures, most live peaceably. There are myriad people from communities in conflict who dedicate themselves to restoring relationships and building long-term peace. Come to hear their stories.

Mary Lou Klassen, Adjunct Professor, Conrad Grebel University and Waterloo Lutheran Seminary, Wilfrid Laurier University. Dave and Mary Lou Klassen have over 30 years of combined service in Africa (DR Congo, Uganda, and Nigeria) mostly with Mennonite Central Committee. Dave's early work was in development and later administration and leadership of MCC programs. Mary Lou has been involved with administration, but most recently teaching peace studies courses in two different seminaries in Nigeria. Recently, Dave completed a term as interim representative for MCC in Bangladesh.

Thursday Jan 25 - AIDS in Africa: A Forgotten Challenge - This presentation traces the progress of the AIDS epidemic in Africa since its first appearance in the early 1980s, outlines the current response and suggests likely trends.

Alan Whiteside - CIGI Chair in Global Health Policy, Balsillie School of International Affairs.  Born in Kenya but raised in Swaziland, Alan is an internationally recognized academic and AIDS researchers. He began his professional career as a planning officer in Botswana. In 1990, Whiteside started the AIDS Analysis Africa newsletter. He is the co-author of numerous articles and books, including AIDS: The Challenge for South Africa and AIDS in the Twenty-First Century: Disease and Globalisation. He was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire in 2015 for services to science and strategic interventions to curb HIV/AIDS.


Ian Spears

Thursday Feb 1 - Why International Conflict Resolution Fails - Why are there so many wars in Africa? Why are they so difficult to resolve? What gets in the way of conflict resolution? This presentation examines the persistence of wars by looking at how countries in these regions were formed, and the challenges and dilemmas that confront contemporary leaders, belligerents and peacemakers as a result.

Ian Spears - Associate Professor, Department of Political Science, University of Guelph. He is the author of Civil War in African States: The Search for Security (Lynne Rienner, 2010) and co-editor with Paul Kingston of States Within States (Palgrave: 2004).

Ron Mathies

Thursday Feb 8 - Learning from Africa:  An Educator's (half century) Journey -  From colonialism and apartheid to political independence and liberation:  challenges and opportunities through working with a non-governmental organization (Mennonite Central Committee)


Ronald Mathies - Former director of Peace and Conflict Studies, Conrad Grebel University College,University of Waterloo; Executive Director Emeritus, Mennonite Central Committee