SOU professor promotes peace through education in Central African Republic

NEWS RELEASE (available online at https://goo.gl/hEL6JW)

(Ashland, Ore.) — A Southern Oregon University faculty member returned last week from the war-torn Central African Republic (CAR), where he served as an English language specialist on a project to equip students with the communication skills necessary to promote peace and conflict resolution.

Bryce Smedley, an assistant professor in SOU’s Education Department, visited students at the University of Bangui and elsewhere during his two-week stay in the CAR. He conducted an education needs assessment, offered teacher trainings and promoted the development of English Language Clubs in the country that is rated as the world’s poorest and the lowest in human development.

Most schools in the CAR have no books, teachers have little training and many schools have remained closed due to insecurity in a nation that has been at war off-and-on since 2004. English language learning allows students to better understand American foreign policy and provides skills that can help them gain upward social mobility.

Students in Smedley’s upper-division multiculturalism class at SOU are paired with students from the CAR to share their life stories, dreams and educational challenges.

“We need to encourage our students to be bold, compassionate and excited to explore cultures, languages, teaching and service-learning in a global context,” said Smedley, who served as an international mentor at Kabul Education University and a faculty member at American University of Afghanistan before joining the SOU faculty last summer.

“My work in Africa is continually connected back to my classroom teaching at SOU,” he said. “These types of educational experiences are transformative, and help develop students’ cultural competence in a global world.”

The CAR project is considered a medium for promoting security, peace and conflict resolution while teaching about democracy, gender and human rights, and restorative justice. The program was organized by the U.S. Embassy of Bangui in conjunction with the English Language Specialist program, which sends academics throughout the world to help strengthen education.

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Open forums to introduce SOU’s Campus-Community Resilience Assessment

NEWS RELEASE (available online at https://goo.gl/i3L221)

(Ashland, Ore.) — Southern Oregon University will hold a pair of open forums to introduce a Campus-Community Resilience Assessment that will be conducted over the next few months to determine the local area’s ability to absorb or adapt to ongoing climate changes.

The forums, which are free and open to the public, will be from 5 to 7 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 26, and from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 27. The same information will be shared at both sessions, which will be in the Rogue River Room of SOU’s Stevenson Union.

SOU’s Sustainability Office is taking on the resilience assessment as part of the university’s Climate Commitment to the Climate Leadership Network, which is made up of more than 600 U.S. colleges and universities. SOU was one of just six institutions to be recognized at the Climate Leadership Network’s summit last year.

Member institutions in the network each commit to take action on climate issues and prepare students to solve current and future challenges. Members may make a “Carbon Commitment” to work toward carbon neutrality, a “Resilience Commitment” to focus on climate adaptation or – as SOU has done – a “Climate Commitment” to do both.

The Resilience Assessment is a response by SOU to the reality of climate change and the urgent need for action. It will provide a baseline of current efforts on campus and in the community to address changes in the climate, identify vulnerabilities and develop initial indicators of resilience.

The assessment will draw input from five small working groups that will each focus on a specific topic: social equity and governance, health and wellness, ecosystem services, infrastructure and the economy. Nominations are still being accepted from those who would like to serve on the groups. Anyone who is interested may contact the university’s Sustainability Office at (541) 552-8139 or sustainability@sou.edu, or by attending one of the upcoming forums.

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About Southern Oregon University
Southern Oregon University provides outstanding student experiences, valued degrees, and successful graduates. SOU is known for excellence in faculty, intellectual creativity and rigor, quality and innovation in connected learning programs, and the educational benefits of its unique geographic location. SOU was the first university in Oregon—and one of the first in the nation—to offset 100 percent of its energy use with clean, renewable power. It is the first university in the nation to balance 100 percent of its water consumption. Visit sou.edu.