04.19.2016 Elusive Search for Social Justice in Africa: The Relevance of Nkrumah’s Vision to the Struggle for Economic Independence

Samia Nkrumah on Social Justice in AfricaLecture by Ms. Samia Nkrumah

Tuesday, April 19, 2016
12:30 – 1:45 p.m.
Konover Auditorium, Dodd Center
University of Connecticut, Storrs 

The father of modern African nationalism and the great torch bearer of pan-Africanism, Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah was very clear in his vision that political independence was only the first step in the struggle to realize social justice and a higher standard of living for Africans.  More than this, Nkrumah provided Ghanaians and Africans with a philosophy and ideology of decolonization: Self-determination and self-reliance, social justice and Pan-Africanism.  On March 6, 1957 Nkrumah declared that the “independence of Ghana is meaningless unless it is linked up with the total liberation of the African continent”.

After more than five decades since that declaration, keen observers of Africa question the extent to which political independence has led to increased welfare of the majority of African people. While Africa remains the world’s richest continent, it is also home to a majority of the world’s poor people. Access to basic needs such as quality education, basic health services, housing, food, water and sanitation by the majority of Africans remains a mirage.

In the talk, Ms. Samia Nkrumah shall assess the relevance of Nkrumah’s vision and philosophy to the challenges that confront progressive forces in their renewed struggle for economic independence, with specific reference to Ghana.

UNESCO Chair & Institute of Comparative Human Rights

For more information, call (860) 486-0647.

04.07.2016 India’s Democracy: Electoral Vibrancy, Liberal Deficits

Ashutosh VarshneyAttend the Annual Radha Devi Joshi Lecture, with Ashutosh Varshney

Date: Thursday, April 7, 2016
Time: 3:30-5:00 pm
Location: Dodd Center, Konover Auditorium, Storrs Campus

Ashutosh Varshney is Sol Goldman Professor of International Studies and the Social Sciences at Brown University, where he also directs the Brown-India Initiative.

His books include Ethnic Conflict and Civic Life: Hindus and Muslims in India; Democracy, Development and the Countryside: Urban-Rural Struggles in IndiaIndia in the Era of Economic ReformsMidnight’s DiasporaCollective Violence in Indonesia; andBattles Half Won: India’s Improbable Democracy.   His academic articles have appeared in the leading journals of political science and development. His honors include the Guggenheim, Carnegie, Luebbert and Lerner awards. He is a contributing editor for Indian Express, and his guest columns have appeared in many other newspapers, including the Financial Times. He served on the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan’s Task Force on Millennium Development Goals, and has also served as adviser to the World Bank and United Nations Development Program (UNDP).

ABSTRACT:  Since 1947, India has forged and consolidated the world’s largest democracy in the unlikely setting of low incomes and multiple ethnicities.  But the electoral achievements of Indian democracy far outweigh its performance between elections, when basic liberal freedoms come into question and governance deficits accumulate.  This lecture will address this paradox, situating India’s democratic experience comparatively and theoretically.

UConn Genomics Researcher awarded fellowship from CASCADE-FELLOWS

Lalande Lab Group
Clockwise from top left: Marc Lalande, Christopher Stoddard, Erin Banda, Elodie Mathieux, Maéva Langouët, Heather Glatt-Deeley, Olusegun Babaniyi, Leann Crandall. Photo provided by Jeff Dutton, UConn Health.

Dr. Maéva Langouët from the Department of Genetics and Genome Sciences in the UConn School of Medicine has been awarded the prestigious fellowship from the CASCADE-FELLOWS Program.

CASCADE-FELLOWS is an international fellowship program for talented young researchers in the Life Sciences, supported by the EU Marie Curie COFUND scheme and managed by the University of Nottingham. CASCADE-FELLOWS research projects last 12-24 months, during which time fellows benefit from mentorship and a structured training program to support their career development. This fellowship will be co-funded by the University of Nottingham, as the sponsoring organization, and the University of Connecticut Health Center, the host organization where Dr. Langouët will complete her work.

Dr. Langouët holds a PhD from the University of Paris Descartes, in France. Prior to joining UConn Health in 2014 as a postdoctoral fellow in Dr. Marc Lalande’s laboratory, she studied the genetics of intellectual disabilities at the Imagine Institute, Necker-Enfants Malades Hospital in Paris. Dr. Langouët’s CASCADE-FELLOWS award will support research on Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS), a neurogenetic disorder associated with cognitive and behavioral abnormalities including an eating disorder that can lead to obesity. PWS is also controlled by a biological process called genomic imprinting. Normally, people inherit a set of genes from each parent, and the phenomenon of genomic imprinting causes parent specific gene activation, whereby, in the case of chromosome 15, the genes inherited from the father are switched on while the same set of genes on the chromosome 15 inherited from the mother are switched off. In PWS, there is no normal copy of the paternal chromosome 15 so patients only have the switched off copies that came from the mother’s chromosome 15. The Lalande laboratory has identified an important component of the switch off mechanism, a protein called ZNF274. By destroying ZNF274 in stem cell lines created from PWS skin cells, Dr. Langouët, working closely with Heather Glatt-Deeley, has succeeded in switching on the set of genes in the maternal chromosome 15 in brain cells produced from ZNF274-less PWS stem cells. They are now testing new approaches for engineering ZNF274-less PWS stem cells and for interfering with ZNF274 binding in order to turn on the genes that are switched off in PWS without affecting the activity of other important genes. The overall goal of this research project is to better understand the pathophysiology of PWS and demonstrate that ZNF274 may be an appropriate molecular target for improving the symptoms of PWS.

“We are delighted Dr. Langouët’s research has been recognized and funded by the CASCADE-FELLOWS committee. We see this as an opportunity to further critical genomics research and simultaneously build our collaboration with the University of Nottingham, which manages the fellowship program,” noted Vice President for Global Affairs, Dr. Daniel Weiner.

The University of Nottingham is a part of the Universitas 21 global research network, which UConn joined in 2010. Since joining the network in 2010, UConn has cultivated a strong partnership with the University of Nottingham, which includes an undergraduate exchange relationship, preservice teacher internship program, and collaborative research on clean energy.

03.10.2016 Indian Foreign Policy and Global Change: Multilateralism from Nehru to Modi

Discussion with Manu Bhagavan (Professor of History, Hunter College)

Date: Thursday, March 10, 2016
Time: 4:00 – 6:00 pm
Location: Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, Konover Auditorium

Sponsors: India Studies Program, Global Affairs, Asian / Asian American Studies Institute, United Nations Association of Connecticut and the Citizens for Global Solutions, Mansfield Chapter

Professor of History at Hunter College, New York, Manu Bhagavad will give a lecture and presentation based on his critically acclaimed book, The Peacemakers / India and the Quest for One World, published by HarperCollins India in 2012 and updated and expanded by Palgrave Macmillan in 2013. Set against the backdrop of World War II, Indian independence and decolonization, and the Cold War, this first-of-its-kind international history, based on seven years of research in twenty archives on three continents, tells the story of India’s quest to build consensus around the framework of “human rights,” to bridge the divisions between East and West, between capitalist and communist, and to create “one world” free of empire, poverty, exploitation, and war.

Professor Bhagavan explores ideas raised in The Peacemakers further in several recent or forthcoming articles, including: “Towards a World Community: India and the Idea of United Nations Reform,” Strategic Analysis (2011); co-authored with Alexander Bacha; “The Commodification of Love: Gandhi, King and 1960’s Counterculture,” in Bryan S. Turner, ed., War and Peace (2013); “India and the United Nations Or Things Fall Apart,” in David Malone, C. Raja Mohan, and Srinath Raghavan, eds., The OUP Handbook on Indian Foreign Policy (forthcoming); and “Towards Universal Relief and Rehabilitation: India, UNRRA, and the New Internationalism.” in Thomas Weiss and Dan Plesch, eds., Wartime History and the Future United Nations (forthcoming).

Open to the public, the talk will be followed by a reception with light refreshments.

For more information, contact: Zahra Ali at zahra.ali@uconn.edu.

03.03.2016 Modern Islamophobia: Muslims in Europe and the U.S.

Dr. Mehnaz Afridi
Dr. Mehnaz Afridi, Assistant Professor of Religious Studies, Manhattan College

UConn and the Jewish Federation Association of Connecticut invite you to a community conversation featuring:

Dr. Mehnaz M. Afridi

Generous funding provided by the UConn Zachs Fund for Holocaust Education

When: Thursday, March 3, 2016 from 3 – 5 pm
Where: UConn School of Social Work, Zachs Community Room
1798 Asylum Avenue, West Hartford

Light refreshments will be served.

The event is free, but RSVP is required: SSWEvents@uconn.edu

Dr. Mehnaz M. Afridi is an assistant professor of religion at Manhattan College, she teaches courses about Islam and the Holocaust, and is director of the college’s Holocaust, Genocide and Interfaith Education Center. Dr. Afridi is a Pakistani-born Muslim who devotes her energies to documenting the Nazi decimation of European Jewry and how it relates to other faiths, especially her own. She is a member of the ethics and religion committee of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, and her first book Shoah Through Muslim Eyes was published in December 2015 (Academic Studies Press).

For more on Dr. Alfridi’s journey, hear her tell her story in this video.

Sponsored by UConn Global Affairs, JFact, UConn School of Social Work.

UConn Human Rights Institute Receives $4 Million Gift

Refugee Camp in C.A.R.
Darfuri girls in the Djabal Refugee Camp in Gasbeda, Central African Republic, hold drawings of the violence they witnessed. Hundreds of thousands have fled the violence in Darfur and are now living in refugee camps in neighboring Chad and the Central African Republic. (Photo by Mia Farrow)

The UConn Human Rights Institute received the largest gift in its history, from philanthropist and UConn alumnus Gary Gladstein (class of 1966) and his wife Phyllis, and from Gorge Soros through his Open Society Foundations. Each will donate $2 million, with the Soros gift contingent on the UConn Foundation matching that with an additional $2 million in matching funds—for a total of $6 million.

With the gift, the Human Rights Institute will create an endowment to support undergraduates. Currently, more than 80 human rights majors are enrolled at the institute. It will also allow the Institute to bring in renowned speakers and leaders in the field for conferences and other events. Continue reading