Our McCormack Graduate School faculty are frequent guest speakers at universities, conferences, government hearings, and nonprofit and professional organizations, but one academic recently took advantage of the video messaging software Skype to speak to high school students in California.
Darren Kew, an associate professor in the Department of Conflict Resolution, Human Security, and Global Governance and executive director of the Center for Peace, Democracy, and Development, was a guest speaker at Cate School, a private high school near Santa Barbara. Kew was invited for his expertise on conflict resolution and promoting democracy in Africa, especially Nigeria.
Kew's Skype-based conversation with students on November 8 was a particularly relevant experience for them. Students at this college preparatory school have been playing the role of Nigeria in the 12-school virtual world called the International Negotiation Project managed by Whittier College's political science department and the University of Maryland's International Communication and Negotiation Simulations global affairs program. His participation provided students with a unique opportunity to learn about the impact of Nigeria's various cleavages and historical conditions on the development of this West African state.
Jacqueline Wilson, senior program officer at the United Institute of Peace, arranged the Skype dialogue and joined in the exchange. The conversation was part of the ongoing “Meet-the-Experts Program” at Cate School that brings international relations professionals into the classroom, using Skype as the vehicle for their virtual field trips.
According to Jim Masker, the international relations teacher at the school, “It was evident during our debriefing that students felt their time with Darren opened their eyes to the reality of Nigeria in a way that was more profound than the readings and news articles we've used. I cannot adequately thank Professor Kew enough for his willingness to share his knowledge and time with our high school students.”
Kew was impressed with the level of engagement from the high schoolers noting, “Because the students were so enthusiastic about these virtual field trips, the quality of our discussion was just amazing. I was so impressed with the students’ challenging questions and critical thinking skills that I hope they will consider graduate studies at UMass Boston in their future plans.”