Tag

Africa Archives - Community | Union Institute & University

Meet Union’s 2016 California Commencement Speaker

By | Alumni, Faculty & Staff, Students | No Comments

It is an honor to welcome Joseph G. Bock as the commencement speaker for the 2016 California commencement ceremony.

Dr. Joseph Bock

2016 California Commencement Speaker

It is an honor to welcome Joseph G. Bock as the commencement speaker for the 2016 California commencement ceremony. Dr. Bock is well-known for his research and publications on violence prevention, a sub-field of global health. He has twelve years of international humanitarian experience. He joined Kennesaw State in 2015 from the Eck Institute for Global Health at the University of Notre Dame. Dr. Bock also served as director of External Relations at the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at University of Notre Dame. He has taught at University of Notre Dame, Monterey Institute for International Studies, Hebrew University, Eastern Mennonite University, and William Jewell College. Other positions include executive director of the Center for Peace and Global Citizenship at Haverford College and executive director of the Secure World Foundation. 

Dr. Bock’s humanitarian work has included directing Catholic Relief Services’ programs in Pakistan and Jerusalem/West Bank/Gaza Strip, and overseeing programs in Bosnia, Croatia, Guinea, Iraq, Kosovo, Liberia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Pakistan, Rwanda, Serbia, Sierra Leone, Thailand, and Uganda while serving as vice president at American Refugee Committee. In 2010, he took a two-month leave from Notre Dame to serve as American Refugee Committee’s country director in Haiti following its devastating earthquake.

Bock has been a speaker and consultant at the World Bank on violence prevention; at University of Malta on the use of information technologies in humanitarian relief; at the Woodrow Wilson Center on foreign aid to Pakistan; at a UN Assembly in Cairo, Egypt about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; in Leuven, Belgium on ethnic violence and religious extremism; at University of Karachi on conflict early warning and early response; and, at Macalister College on the refugee crisis in Africa.

Dr. Bock served as a panelist for InterAction in Washington, DC about international issues facing Internally Displaced Persons. He served as a consultant with The Asia Foundation on conflict management and democratic governance, providing support in Thailand, Nepal, and Sri Lanka. In Sri Lanka, he worked on a conflict early warning and early response program of the Foundation for Co-Existence, which formed the basis of his book The Technology of Nonviolence: Social Media and Violence Prevention, which was published by MIT Press in 2012. He is the author of two other books. 

In December 2015, Dr. Bock was provided a Fulbright Specialist award to work with the Municipality of Athens, Greece on the migrant crisis. He has been a Fellow with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, a Fulbright Specialist at University of Malta, and a Visiting Fellow at Gonzaga University. Bock served as a member of the Working Group on Reconciliation of Caritas Internationalis, based in Vatican City. 

Dr. Bock holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Social Work. After completing his Ph.D. at the School of International Service of American University, Dr. Bock served six years in the Missouri House of Representatives, with leadership positions as Chair of the Energy and Environment Committee and Vice-Chair of the Commerce Committee. More recently, he was a candidate for the U.S. Congress from Illinois.

Dr. Bock is on the Advisory Council of the War Prevention Initiative of the Jubitz Family Foundation and is a member of the Advisory Committee of the Center of Conflict Studies, Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey. Dr. Bock is an editorial adviser to Development in Practice, a peer-reviewed journal founded by Oxfam Great Britain. He has authored or co-authored articles in various peer-reviewed journals including, among others, Political Geography, Information Technology for Development, Journal of Peace Research, Journal of Information Technology & Politics, and Journal of Refugee Studies.

His dedication to service and humanitarian causes has permeated his life and his work. We welcome him as our commencement speaker as an example of Union’s enduring mission to engage, enlighten, and empower adults as they pursue professional goals, and a lifetime of learning, service, and social responsibility.

Union Institute & University’s California Commencement will be held
August 7, 2016 at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre. Find out more below!

Ph.D. student receives second Fulbright Award

By | Doctoral Degree, Students | No Comments

History hidden in plain view. Ph.D. student receives second Fulbright Award to restore the effects of African diaspora in Suriname.

Paula Royster

Current Student | Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Studies

Paula Royster is the founder of The Center of African American Genealogical Research, Inc. (CAAGRI), a non-profit, volunteer based organization with the mission to reunite as many African descended Americans with their distant African relatives as possible. She holds a Master of Arts in History and Culture from Union Institute & University and is a current Ph.D. student in Union’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Studies Specialization degree program. She is the recipient of two Fulbright Scholar Program awards. The prestigious program of the United States Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs is an educational and cultural exchange program that connects people and encourages them to learn about each other’s cultures and values.

What’s in a name? Just ask the millions of people of African descent whose ancestors were captured and transported into the slave trade. “Slaves identity, culture, traditions, and customs were stolen. They were unimportant,” said Paula Royster, Union Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Studies Specialization Ph.D. student, recipient of her second Fulbright Award and founder of the Center for African American Genealogical Research, Inc. (CAAGRI). “Imagine not knowing who your ancestors are? How can we answer the question who we are and where we are going if we don’t know where we have been?”

Royster will try to help answer these questions for the people of the Republic of Suriname, located in the northeastern Atlantic coast of South America, when she travels to Anton de Kom University to teach an African Diaspora Studies class, a Research Methods class and tackle a public history project to capture the oral histories of Suriname’s eldest community members. She wrote the syllabus while enrolled in the master’s program at Union. 

“Suriname was colonized by the Dutch. Most people of African descent captured and transported into the slave trade, like all other South American and Caribbean nations, are disconnected from their ancestral origins: my task will be to try and help them identify the various origins,” said Royster. “Suriname expressed a desire for someone to help them with this project to rediscover history hidden in plain view. I will also work with faculty and staff on developing a sustainable curriculum on African Studies after my term is over because the teachers do not have the educational backgrounds to teach these courses nor do they have the resources (books) or research methods to adequately teach the course over the long-term. So I will be in the classroom 50 percent of the time and researching the other 50 percent.”

The term African diaspora has been historically applied to the descendants of the West and Central Africans who were enslaved and shipped to the Americas in the Atlantic slave trade. It is estimated that about 12.5 million Africans were shipped to North America, the Caribbean and South America between 1525 and 1866. (Henry Gates Jr. Many Rivers to Cross)

Royster and her students will record memories of the eldest people first and then others as time permits. She anticipates conducting over 150 interviews. Her passion for genealogy research started innocently enough when she tried to locate her grandmother’s birth certificate.

“I stumbled into genealogy quite by accident. My grandmother was suffering from the early stages of dementia and my mother needed to get a copy of her birth certificate. When the birth record was not found in Texas, I began to ask questions about my grandmother’s birth parents. Answers led to more questions and I have not looked back since,” said Royster. “I discovered that the processes for genealogists researching African American families transcended the obvious physical deprivations of humanity via slavery but also that those deprivations persisted in other parts of our cultural attitudes about whose records were important and whose were not. The invisibility of African Americans in society is what caused me to found CAAGRI.”

That wake-up call resulted in the founding of the CAAGRI in 2004 located in Fredericksburg, Virginia. “I founded the Center with the goal of helping African American novice genealogists begin their genealogy research because the official records for African Americans prior to the Civil War did not include us by name, DOB, parent’s names, etc. We were recorded as property of the slave master,” said Royster. In 2006, the Center included genetic DNA as a research tool and sought a partner in Africa to help with oral histories as well as the collection of DNA. Little did she know that the partnership would have far reaching implications for her first Fulbright Award.

“I reviewed old maps and came across Fort Gross Fredericksburg in Prince's Town, Ghana and proceeded to establish a sister city relationship. We had a delegation from Ghana come to Fredericksburg to sign the official proclamation. As I began to learn more about the history of the Nzima people, they told me about a folk hero named King Gyane Kone (John Connie) who had been in a protracted battle (almost 20 years) with the Danish over control of Fort Gross Fredericksburg,” said Royster. “Kone was eventually captured but negotiated with his captors that he would leave peacefully if they agreed to take his son to Germany to be educated. Kone was then sent to Jamaica where he implemented his cultural harvest celebration called "Kundum" (koon-doom) into Jamaican society now called "Jonkonnu." Kone's son later became known as Anton Wilhelm Amoo, the 18th century African philosopher.”

Royster was able to share the history of the Jamaican folk hero and his contribution to one of Jamaica’s most cherished traditions during her first Fulbright Award assignment. “My first Fulbright was as a Specialist (designed for short-term assignments) to Jamaica to help the University of West Indies at Mona in Kingston develop a curriculum on African Studies as a legitimate interdisciplinary study. As I traveled through the country, I shared the information on Jonkonnu and its connections to Prince’s Town,” said Royster.

Royster is proud of the light she has been able to shed on the origins of people of African descent and their contributions to human civilizations. Her second Fulbright will provide the opportunity to teach in her area of interest at the university level, which is a short term goal of Royster’s. “Teaching others about their history requires a new writing of history that I hope will inspire a new sense of purpose within the Diasporic community. I believe that family history is important and provides context of not only where you come from but where you are going.” If you would like to know how other MLK students are working for social justice, read “MLK Student Fights To End Sex Trafficking.” 

Learn more about Union’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Studies Specialization program