The UGA African Studies Institute will host the 20th annual Southeastern Model African Union Nov. 3-5 at the Georgia Center for Continuing Education. Students representing colleges and universities from across Georgia and the Southeast will participate in the competition, which is designed to give them an opportunity to learn about diplomacy, leadership and governmental organization through a unique simulation experience.
The event is modeled on the African Union, the international organization founded as the Organization of African Unity to promote cooperation among the independent nations of the continent. The main purpose of the UGA event is to bring Africa as close to the students as possible by simulating the activities of the African Union. The regional competition is a precursor to the national Model African Union held in Washington, D.C., in February.
The SEMAU conference and competition includes cultural events, opening and closing ceremonies featuring visiting dignitaries and a Nov. 2 reception for participants hosted by Athens-Clarke County Mayor Nancy Denson at the Lyndon House Arts Center.
The simulation is designed to enrich and enhance students’ understanding of the political, economic and cultural dimensions of different African countries and their relationship to each other and the rest of the world as members of the African Union.
“Originally, organizers targeted political science students, but then they realized the issues are not only about politics but also human rights, economics and cultural matters,” said Jean Kidula, a professor of music in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences Hugh Hodgson School of Music and one of the co-directors of the 2016 conference.
Students participate in roles at every level, including an executive council where they imitate heads of state, and committees on democracy, governance, human rights; economic matters; social issues; peace and security; pan-Africanism and continental unity.
The Model African Union is a twofold educational experience. The first phase of learning begins in the classroom or study sessions where the participant gathers information, conducts research and learns about issues relating to a specific country. The second phase takes place in the simulated meetings of the actual commissions of the African Union, which will be held at UGA’s Hotel and Conference Center.