World Issues Forum Fall 2019


  Fairhaven Auditorium
  (FA 300)

Next World Issues Forum Speaker

No events are scheduled.

World Issues Forum Fall 2019

Wed 10/2 from 11:30 AM to 12:50 PM

picture Dieudonne Ndaruhuye Muhoza


Rwanda has made impressive progress in contraceptive use in the last decade. The contraceptive prevalence rate increased from 17% to 53% between 2005 and 2015. Unexpectedly, contraceptive uptake was higher among the less educated, poor, and rural populations than among the better educated, rich, or urban. This study provides elements of explanation for this unexpected increase and absence of historical disparities in contraceptive prevalence and formulates relevant policy implications and recommendations.

Dr. Dieudonné N. Muhoza is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Rwanda in the Department of Applied Statistics. He holds a PhD in Demography obtained from the University of Utrecht, The Netherlands. In addition to his teaching duties at University of Rwanda and others, he is a researcher and has participated in many national and international conferences. He has published several papers in international peer reviewed journals. His current research interest is to analyze the complex relationships between family size, poverty, and economic development in sub-Saharan Africa.W

Wed 10/9 from 11:30 AM to 12:50 PM

picture Fungisai Gwanzura Ottemoller


My lecture presents a case of the refugee situation in Europe, focusing on the transitions of young refugees into Norwegian society. I use a health promotion perspective with a focus on the social determinants of health. I discuss the notion of equality that underpins Norway’s social, welfare and political structures. I argue that growing diversity within the country, especially from the Global South, challenges this ideal. Drawing on current research projects, I utilize acculturation and salutogenesis theories to examine the complexity of the interplay between refugees’ experiences and aspirations, Norwegian society’s perceptions of diversity, the policy arena and political rhetoric.

Dr. Ottemoller is Associate Professor and leader of the master program in Health Promotion and Health Psychology, University of Bergen. Her background is in psychology, health promotion and geography. She has previously worked in projects on mental health (Zimbabwe) and children’s participation (Zimbabwe and Scotland). She is a member of the transdisciplinary Refugee Resilience project that investigates young immigrants’ transitions into Norwegian society using a strengths-based approach. She leads PIISTON, a transdisciplinary network involving academics and practitioners from the public, private and civil society sectors. PIISTON aims to promote refugees’ inclusion, access to information, and successful transition into Norwegian society. 

Wed 10/16 from 11:30 AM to 12:50 PM

picture Tsiri Agbenyega


Malaria is a life-threatening disease caused by parasites that are transmitted to people through the bites of infected female Anopheles mosquitoes. It is preventable and curable. In 2017, there were an estimated 219 million cases of malaria in 87 countries. The estimated number of malaria deaths stood at 435,000 in 2017. In 2017, nearly half of the world's population was at risk of malaria. Most malaria cases and deaths occur in sub-Saharan Africa. However, the WHO regions of South-East Asia, Eastern Mediterranean, Western Pacific, and the Americas are also at risk.  The WHO African Region carries a disproportionately high share of the global malaria burden. In 2017, the region was home to 92% of malaria cases and 93% of malaria deaths. Children under 5 years of age are the most vulnerable group affected by malaria; in 2017, they accounted for 61% (266,000) of all malaria deaths worldwide. The WHO Global Technical Strategy for Malaria 2016-2030 – adopted by the World Health Assembly in May 2015 – provides a technical framework for all malaria-endemic countries. It is intended to guide and support regional and country programs as they work towards malaria control and elimination. We will discuss the history of elimination of malaria from some parts of the developed world, the measures the developing world is taking towards the elimination of malaria and the possibility that malaria could come back to the USA.

Tsiri Agbenyega obtained a Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MB. ChB) from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Kumasi, Ghana, in 1982. After earning qualification as a doctor, he did rotations in the departments of Medicine, Surgery, Obstetrics & Gynecology, and Pediatrics at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital in Kumasi. He obtained a PhD in Physiology from the University of Manchester (UK) in 1991. He started teaching Physiology in the School of Medical Sciences KNUST in 1991.

He is a former Dean of the Medical School and a former Provost of the College of Health Science, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology. He is currently a Professor in the Department of Physiology in the School of Medical Sciences. He is the Principal Investigator at the Malaria Vaccine Trial Centre at the Agogo Presbyterian Hospital and the Medical Director at the HopeXchange Medical Centre in Kumasi.

Wed 10/23 from 11:30 AM to 12:50 PM

picture Oliver Mweemba


Health promotion is a “process of enabling people to increase control over, and improve their health”. This implies that people must be empowered to control the circumstances and contexts that affect their health. This empowerment agenda requires a deep interrogation of the society we live in. People need to confront issues of ideology, power, hegemony, and social justice. They need to reclaim their self-identity and knowledge systems as resources for health. In this lecture, I argue and illustrate that studying and applying critical theory and indigenous knowledge systems are a powerful tool to enhance the empowerment agenda of health promotion.

Oliver Mweemba is a Lecturer/Researcher in the Department of Health Promotion and Education, at the University of Zambia. He has a PhD in Social Science and Health from Leeds Beckett University, UK and a Masters of Philosophy in Health Promotion from the University of Bergen, Norway. He is a co-PI in the IDRC funded study on Young Marriage and Parenthood in Zambia (YMAPS). He is also a co-Investigator in a US National Institutes of Health funded project examining a dyad approach to combination HIV prevention in pregnancy for Zambia and Malawi.

Wed 10/30 from 11:30 AM to 12:50 PM

picture Mariana Sanmartino


Chagas disease is frequently referred to as the effects that the parasite Trypanosoma cruzi has on people’s health. However, the biomedical and epidemiological aspects, most frequently addressed, are just some pieces of this complex puzzle. Social, environmental, economic, political, cultural, and educational elements are essential in comprehending the magnitude of the problem without stigmatizations. From these reflections, I will share aspects of a “kaleidoscopic” perspective that aims to promote joint work between different social actors, in a great diversity of contexts, with the purpose of getting more and more voices talking about Chagas

Dr. Sanmartino (PhD in Education Sciences) is a biologist and a specialist in Social Sciences and Health in Epistemologies of the South. She works as a researcher for the National Board of Scientific and Technical Research (CONICET) in the Grupo de Didáctica de las Ciencias (La Plata, Argentina) and is the founder and coordinator of the group ¿De qué hablamos cuando hablamos de Chagas? (What do we speak about when we speak about Chagas?). The guiding thread of her career is the search to understand Chagas disease from an integral perspective and, at the same time, highlight the role of education and communication as key tools to address this complex issue. 

Wed 11/6 from 11:30 AM to 12:50 PM

picture Abhijit Das


The presentation will cover two decades of work in different states of India to explore how men and boys could contribute to gender equality. Gender equality requires transformation in the existing gender power relationships in the family, community and in institutions. Using grounded examples, the presentation will demonstrate how this work has led to a greater understanding of how masculinities get shaped and can be transformed through an intersectional understanding of privilege and discrimination These lessons around gender transformative change are now being integrated within some public programs in India and on the other hand are also contributing to building a large social movement of men as partners of gender equality.

Abhijit Das is Director of the Centre for Health and Social Justice, in India and Clinical Associate Professor in the Department of Global Health at the University of Washington, Seattle, USA. A medical doctor by training Abhijit has over 30 years of work on health governance and citizen participation and men and gender equality. He has fostered South to South learning through networks like COPASAH ( and Men Engage Global Alliance ( He has served as an expert on various policy bodies in India including the Ministry of Health, the Planning Commission, the National Human Rights Commission and UN Women. Abhijit has many papers and articles in academic and popular publications and has been an invited speaker on many platforms including the UN and the EU.

Wed 11/13 from 11:30 AM to 12:50 PM

picture Susan Ajok


Young people in Uganda constitute the majority of the country's population and yet often limited plans exist for addressing access to services that improve their health and wellbeing. Many young people engage in sexual activity with little or no knowledge about how to protect themselves against the risks of sexually transmitted infections and unplanned pregnancy. Other challenges include having to balance the expectations of the traditional, often conservative, norms against the increasing exposure, through the mass media, to modern ideals The presentation will highlight Straight Talk Foundation work in serving adolescents and responding to specific populations needs for health and development.

Ms Susan Ajok, is the Executive Director of Straight Talk Foundation; one of the oldest and first young people focused civil society organizations in Uganda to recognize and act on the unique sexual and reproductive needs of young people in Uganda. She has led several communication programs of the organization. Her areas of expertise are HIV prevention, Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights and Gender. She received the 2008 Compton Fellowship on Population, Environment and Human Security and is a Population Leadership Fellow. Annually, Straight Talk Foundation serves about 10,000,000 young people through mass media, interpersonal communication and youth services.

Wed 11/20 from 11:30 AM to 12:50 PM

picture Ruth Kimani



Empowerment processes within and among rightsholders is an essential first step before expressing and raising one’s voice.  Investments towards such processes should therefore be very intentional, to ensure inclusion of voices that have remained underrepresented in development processes. Unequal power dynamic exists between the donor and the grantee which often inhibits the self-empowerment processes. In the lecture, I will showcase such efforts made through the Voice  grant facility particularly in reaching sexual and gender minorities in countries that have discriminative laws.


Ruth Kimani is the Regional Roving grants Coordinator, for the Voice Program, Africa Region. She holds a Master’s Degree in Project Planning and Management. She is passionate about social justice. She has the ability to motivate and inspire individuals in identifying their potential and power to challenge norms and status quo. In her vast experience in community development, she has managed to promote positive change in communities and individuals through advocacy, empowered by compassion.

Mon 11/25 from 11:30 AM to 12:50 PM

Abstract: This talk places the contemporary Alt-Right within a longer history of racist right ideas and organizing. Beginning with the formation of the KKK at the close of the Civil War, I show how the racist right often sees a surge in activity and membership in response to extensions of Civil Rights for people of color. I draw form over ten years of research on the racist right to discuss the emergence of the white nationalist movement in the 1990s and its expansion into the Alt-Right in the last few years. I also discuss the role of new media in the proliferation of this movement. 


Sophie Bjork-James has over ten years of experience researching both the US based Religious Right and the white nationalist movements. She is finalizing a book manuscript on race and evangelical politics in the United States. Her work has appeared in American Anthropologist, Oxford Bibliographies, Sex Roles: A Journal of Research, and The Ethnic Studies Review. She is co-editor of the book, Beyond Populism: Angry Politics and the Twilight of Neoliberalism (forthcoming, the University of West Virginia Press). She has appeared on the NBC Nightly News, NPR’s All Things Considered, and BBC Radio 4’s Today.

Mon 12/2 from 11:00 AM to 12:50 PM

Understanding the Protests in Bolivia and Chile


Western faculty in Latin American Studies will analyze the current conflicts in Bolivia and Chile for the campus community. Blanca Aranda, meridional Andes expert from Bolivia, is Associate Professor in Modern and Classical Languages. Max Barahona from Chile is Visiting Assistant Professor of Communication Studies.  Pedro Cameselle is Assistant Professor of Latin American History.  Luis Portugal from Bolivia is Director of Western’s Latin American Studies Program. Tamara Lea Spira, a Chile scholar, is Associate Professor of Queer Studies in American Cultural Studies and Fairhaven College. The panel is chaired by Lourdes Gutiérrez Nájera, Assistant Professor of Latinx Studies in American Cultural Studies.