Home Featured News GRCC Political Science professors speak at United Nations symposium

GRCC Political Science professors speak at United Nations symposium

GRCC UN Feature
GRCC Political Science professors Gordan Vurusic, and Keith St. Clair, and Calvin College Political Science professor Joel Westra

By Lauren Winther

Grand Rapids Community College held a symposium Monday to commemorate the founding of the United Nations.

About 75 people attended the event, with many students attending to earn course credit.

“I came to this event because it’s part of an online course that I’m taking,” said GRCC student Max Marshall, 21.  “We have to write an essay on what’s going on,”

Some students, such as Daniel Wiess, 21, attended the event simply because they enjoy geography.

“I really like physical geography, and I want to learn more general knowledge about the the world,” Wiess said.

Academic advising was available for those interested in international careers, which took place in Sneden Hall, room 103.

Over the next two days, Tuesday (Oct. 22) and Wednesday (Oct. 23), academic advising will be available for those students in a specific discipline, such as economics, history or sociology.

The event began with a plenary lecture entitled, ‘The Role of Journalism in Post-Soviet Central Asian Countries’ which was hosted by Leon Yacher, a geography professor, from Southern Connecticut State University.

Before jumping into the role of journalism in post-soviet Central Asian countries, Yacher gave the audience brief information of the different countries.

“Central Asia, particularly the former Soviet Republics, that today are independent republics, are countries in Central Asia that are largely unknown to westerners, particularly unknown to Americans,” Yacher said.

Yacher also described what it was like to travel to Central Asia after the Soviet Union collapsed.

“During Soviet times, the Soviet Union collapsed in the early 1990’s, during the Soviet era, traveling to what we today would call central Asia, was virtually impossible,” said Yacher. “The only way you could do that as a tourist, in which the actual official tourist board of the Soviet Union would literally take you from one point to the other, with a very scheduled itinerary.”

After the Soviet Union collapsed they went through a transformation period where they were actually welcoming foreigners, although it was still hard for westerners, including Americans, to visit without a formal invitation from the government.

After discussing the ways of the Soviet Union, Yacher described different schemas used by different journalists in different countries.

Some journalists use different schemas such as propaganda, free press, and public relations as tactics to report information.

During this time, being a journalist was dangerous work. Some journalists were beaten, murdered, or had their families threatened.

Yacher also stressed how it was illegal to own a photocopier. One could make copies of important documents, but could not own a photocopier in their homes, or they would be severely punished.

The next event led into a roundtable discussion, entitled, ‘The United Nations: Retrospect and Prospect.

The table discussion included GRCC Political Science professors Gordan Vurusic, and Keith St. Clair, and Calvin College Political Science professor Joel Westra.

Westra acted as the retrospect while Vurusic and St. Clair were prospect.

Each professor discussed both positives and negatives about the United Nations. During questions, each was asked to rank the United Nations from one to 10, each giving it a high mark.

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