University Offers Forum for Global Issues

The annual Global Understanding Convention (GCU) has been a prominent campus-wide event at the University for the past 14 years. The convention lasts for a week and covers various topics relating to social injustice and inequality, global issues, and non-violence. This year’s convention is taking place during the week of April 13-17 and is sponsored by the Institute for Global Understanding. 

According to the University’s official website, the slogan for this year’s convention is “Practicing Non-Violence in a Violent World.” The schedule includes several different events such as lectures, art installations, public speakers, film screenings, and workshops. 

Dr. George Gonzalez, Chair of the Global Understanding Convention, added insight on the purpose of the convention. “Each year, the theme and the content are especially geared towards the students, which is why we insist on staying a convention rather than morphing into an academic conference. The focus on the intellectual needs and interests of the students is unique and something that we take as basic,” said Gonzalez. 

The Outlook editorial staff believes the convention covers a wide variety of topics that need to be discussed amongst students and faculty. 

Many staffers admit that in the past they only attended events during the convention because it was a classroom requirement. It has been the experience of most staffers that many professors ask their students to attend events during the week either as extra credit or as a replacement for class. This begs the question, would students attend if they were not required to for class? The Outlook editorial staff weighs in. 

One staffer, who attended last year for class described his/her positive experience, “I thought it was very informative. Last year, I listened to a speaker present facts on gender discrimination in a country other than our own. I really can’t remember where she was from or the specifics of the lecture, but I left feeling empowered and more knowledgeable on the subject.” 

Another editorial board member reflected on past experiences with the convention, “Some of the sessions I went to have been pretty cool! But again, the only reason I went was because it was required for my classes. Otherwise, I don’t think I’d go. I just have an awfully busy schedule, work, etc. that it’s really hard to attend on-campus events like this.”

On the contrary, some feel that it is sometimes difficult to connect with the information being presented at the events during the convention. “I’ve been forced to go for classes, some of the sessions are interesting but others are poorly organized and boring,” added one staffer. 

There are mixed feelings regarding this year’s convention. Most staff members who plan on attending this year are attending as a class requirement. Others said they would attend this year without the request of a professor. One editor stated, “I would attend whether professors asked me to or not, especially this year, as I have begun to see the relevance of things like this to my major.” 

The editorial staff understands the significance of the convention and believe people should make an effort to attend, as it is important to discuss controversial topics. “Although people don’t go unless it’s required for class, people should want to go. They talk about a vast amount of important issues ranging from inequality, race, and gender roles that should be discussed and highlighted to the MU community,” added one staffer. 

There is discussion regarding the issue of professors putting too much of an emphasis on the convention. Some editors feel that professors involved put too much of an emphasis on the convention while others felt that professors do not put enough of an emphasis on the importance of the event. “Students can really get a lot out of this convention, but I think it is pushed more as extra credit just to build attendance,” added one editorial member. 

 Overall, The Outlook staff understands the significance of the convention, but also finds it difficult to attend events during the week due to busy schedules.Some hope topics such as gender equality, different cultures, and racial issues including police tension are covered during this year’s scheduled events.