University of Georgia

cchsLocals here in Athens, Georgia, are abuzz with a couple paragraphs in the remarks on education that President Barack Obama delivered yesterday at a College Opportunity Summit in Washington, D.C.

Obama underscored the uneven playing field on which high schoolers compete for college admission, recalling: “[W]hen I was taking the SAT I just barely remembered to bring a pencil.  I mean, that’s how much preparation I did.” He continued:

‘So we’ve got a young man here today named Lawrence Harris who knows this better than most. Lawrence went to the University of Georgia, and like a lot of first-generation college students it wasn’t easy for him. He had to take remedial classes. He had to work two part-time jobs to make ends meet. At one point, he had to leave school for a year while he helped support his mom and his baby brother. Those are the kinds of just day-to-day challenges that a lot of these young people with enormous talent are having to overcome. Now, he stuck with it. He graduated.

‘But now he’s giving back. He’s made it his mission to help other young people like him graduate, as a college advisor at Clarke Central High School in Athens, Georgia. And today the National College Advising Corps, the program that placed Lawrence in Clarke Central, is announcing plans to add 129 more advisors who will serve more than 80,000 students over the next three years.’

News of the shout-out traveled fast from D.C. to Clarke Central, high school to my son and more than 1,400 others. CCHS’ diverse student body comprises blacks (57%), whites (22%), Latinos (17%), Asians (2%), and multiracial children (2%). (image credit) Nearly 2/3 of the students come from economically disadvantaged backgrounds. Programs, like the award-winning Odyssey on-line-and-in-print magazine, are exemplary. The school’s overall graduation rate is climbing, thanks to the students themselves and to the support of their community and teachers – not to mention advisors like the one Obama singled out.

imagesAfricans and Globalization: Contents and Discontents is the theme of a 3-day international conference to be held here in Athens from November 13 to 15, 2013. Sponsoring the event is the University of Georgia African Studies Institute, a quarter-century-old interdisciplinary unit I’ve just been invited to join as an affiliated faculty member.

The principal conveners, Georgia Professors Ibigbolade Aderibigbe (Religion) and Karim Traore (Comparative Literature), seek proposals for papers and panels to be presented by “academicians, independent scholars, policymakers, and graduate students” who are “working in Africa, the African diaspora, the United States, and other parts of the globe.” They write:

‘Various definitions notwithstanding, globalization refers to the increasing interconnections of societies worldwide. Globalization appears to entail interactions that are not country or continent-bound; moreover, they alter the social, economic, cultural and political existence of participants in different ways.’

Among the questions to be considered:

‘How has globalization (recent and historic) affected Africans (from the continent and the diaspora)?’

Within the overall theme, papers and panels may relate to any number of disciplines, including law. Here’s the conveners’ list:

‘Language, Literature & Film – Political Systems – Sustainable Agricultural and Environmental Development – Social Studies – Anthropology/Sociology – Religion/Philosophy – Education and Knowledge Transmission – History – Medicine and Healthcare Systems – Musicology – Legal and Judicial Systems – Science and Technology – Family, Household & Community – Sports and Recreation’

Abstracts of 500 or fewer words should be e-mailed to asic2013@uga.edu. Deadline for proposals is August 16, 2013.  Full call for papers, with further details on format for proposals and conference registration, is here.