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Simmons College Partners on International Social Development Conference, July 2013

April 24, 2013

This summer, Simmons College with Makerere University of Uganda, will co-host the 18th Biennial International Consortium for Social Development Conference in Kampala, Uganda, from July 15 to 19.

The conference, "Opening New Frontiers in Social Development: Facing Opportunities and Challenges," will focus on emerging issues of social development, including health, government and non-government roles, social justice, and human rights. The International Consortium for Social Development (ICSD) is an organization of practitioners, scholars, and students in the human services.

Social Work Professor Hugo Kamya, a member of the ICSD board, says that the conference is a significant entrée for the College onto the global leadership stage. "The Simmons community has always been a pioneering entity in cultivating and supporting its leaders," said Kamya. "This conference is a continuation of that work."

Kamya said that participation by Simmons students and faculty is crucial. Click here to learn how to apply.

Below, Professor Kamya discusses the significance of the international gathering and why international experience is good for all students.

What is the conference about?

The 2013 ICSD conference in Kampala, Uganda, is about social development and the direct path it offers to various global issues, academic fields, social themes, and communities.

While this conference aims to reveal emerging issues of, and approaches to, social development, the conference is also focused on long-standing concerns including Millennium Development Goals; policy limits; poverty and hunger; global climate change; continuous marginalization and social exclusion; issues of social justice and human rights; mobilization of governmental, non-governmental, and civil society institutions.

Additionally, this conference is about leadership. The Simmons community has always been a pioneering entity in cultivating and supporting its leaders. This conference is a continuation of that work. With students and faculty attending this conference, Simmons College is on a global stage, exchanging expertise and identifying strategic approaches to building a future filled with promise.

Why is the conference important?

This conference is important because people are important. Whether a street vendor or the president of a leading nation, social development impacts us all. This conference focuses on the interconnectedness of cultures, identities, governments, and societies. During a time when we hear stories of tragedy on a daily basis, it is important to learn of the great work that people are doing to meet challenges and dismantle systems that prevent the advancement of our global community.

Also, we want to open new frontiers in social development. These issues have been talked about a lot in the past. How can we look beyond the discussions that have been heard about this issue and bring the conversation into new places and new frontiers.

The hope is that it will touch these issues and spark people into thinking about them differently in order to bring about change.

Lastly, this conference is about identifying our commonalities across differences. It is not a surprise that within the 200+ abstract submissions we received for the conference, representing more than 26 countries, there are common themes being researched, discussed, and reviewed. Just to name a few: gender equity, the youth movements, human rights, global warming, LGBTQ movements, healthy communities, and domestic violence.

What is the significance of having it in Uganda?

Uganda has been at the forefront of many of these issues as a developing nation. One of its success stories is the reduction of HIV/AIDS. Uganda has spearheaded an education program that is being exported all over sub-saharan Africa.

This is the second time this conference is being held in Africa. Prior to this, it was held in South Africa in 1999. As a developing nation, Uganda is the first to hold this conference.

Why is it important for all students to have an international experience, regardless of their chosen profession?

We look to students and youth to be the future leaders in social development. A few weeks ago, I was in Uganda and met with the U.S. ambassador to Uganda. His interest and work with the youth, so-called "Generation Change," was clearly evident. The youth are the future of social development. The youth must be engaged.

Simmons's participation (among students and faculty) also is crucial. It is a way to showcase our interest and investment in global leadership.

(Photo by Jennifer Knott 'SW13: Beatrice, a 62-year old teacher living with HIV, and her kindergarten students at "Beatrice's School" in Uganda, July 2012.)