Many issues that shape the nature and quality of our lives have an international dimension. Today’s economic interdependence, the development of appropriate environmental strategies, the resolution of regional conflicts, social inclusion, and the enhancement of human rights all require a global perspective. Important aspects of the educational experience include discussion and interaction with people from diverse cultures. Recognizing the need to bring a strong international component to an undergraduate education, the University of Nebraska at Kearney sponsors this conference on global issues. The Midwest Conference on World Affairs began as an important campus and community activity in the 1960’s. In 1988, the function was renamed “The James E. Smith Midwest Conference on World Affairs” in honor of a professor whose vision and dedication significantly affected the continuation of the conference.
Global economic interdependence is now a reality that no nation can ignore. The development of appropriate environmental strategies, the resolution of regional conflicts and the enhancement of human rights all require a global perspective. The fundamental objectives of the World Affairs program include: (1) to introduce important global issues to the students and local community; (2) to expose conference participants to a variety of viewpoints from other countries; and (3) to promote global awareness.
The James E. Smith Midwest Conference on World Affairs serves as an opportunity for students to hear the opinions of leaders in the global community and to discuss current and pressing world issues. This conference is unique in the state of Nebraska. Through panel discussions, lectures, classroom presentations and group activities, participants are exposed to a variety of important issues and afforded the opportunity to interact with distinguished guests from all over the world.
Given the geographic location of Nebraska in the center of the continental United States, this conference is, for many people, their best chance to interact with representatives of other cultures. All events are open to the public and there is no admission charge. The University works with local civic organizations to create opportunities for community-wide participation.
The UNK Archives & Special Collections has rich holdings related to the World Affairs Conference, due to the generosity of many of the organizers. From the 1964-1975 run, we have materials related to conference planning, such as biographies of speakers, invitations sent and responses received, budget documentation, publicity garnered, and evaluations done following each conference. We have similar holdings from roughly 1999-2004. In addition, across all years of the conference, the Archives has public facing materials like programs and proceedings. We also hold assorted other items, including cookbooks produced in coordination with the conference, photos taken at the conferences, and newspaper special issues featuring the World Affairs Conference. All items can be explored in the UNK Archives, located on the second floor of the Calvin T. Ryan Library. Contact Laurinda Weisse (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Sally Sinor (email@example.com) for access. A pdf listing of 1963-1975 World Affairs Conference materials held by Archives and Special Collections can be found here. A digital archive of 2006-2014 is available here.