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Public Affairs Conference

April 15-18, 2008

Seeking Solutions: Conflict, Violence, and the Courage to change
Avenue of Flags

Engaging Topics

The conference features more than 20 discussion panels, which touch business, family, international issues, the arts and schools.

Free & Open to the Public

All events are free and open to the public. No registration is necessary. Free parking.

Welcome from the Conference Chair

Dr. Dianne Strickland Three years ago, Missouri State University commemorated its centennial year. The keystone of the celebration was the inaugural Public Affairs Conference. During 2007, we hosted the third conference: One World, Many Voices. The fourth annual Public Affairs Conference will convene April 15-18, and its theme is Seeking Solutions: Conflict Violence and the Courage to Change.

The past three conferences exceeded expectations and we anticipate that this conference will do so as well as a result of support from Missouri State President Michael Nietzel, Provost Belinda McCarthy, presenting sponsor the Springfield News-Leader and the conference’s talented team of Candace Fisk, director of the Missouri State Public Affairs Academy, Mary Ann Wood, director of public affairs support, and the more than 20 Public Affairs Conference Task Force members. We invite your participation to help ensure this year’s success.

Our theme, Seeking Solutions: Conflict, Violence and the Courage to Change, reflects the reality of our world and our determination to make beneficial changes to that world. Everywhere we look we see conflict and violence — from the homes and streets of Springfield to the mountains of Pakistan and Afghanistan. Dedicated to seeking solutions in our local communities, as well as in the larger world of which we are a part, this conference will provide an opportunity to hear the ideas of many different individuals — ideas that can lead to productive changes in our world.

Through our diverse program of panels, keynote sessions and special events, we are constructing a conference reflecting the interests of our University and of our metropolitan community. We invite you to participate in a dialog with our presenters as we pursue our goal of seeking solutions.

Dr. Dianne Strickland
Provost Fellow for Public Affairs
Conference Chair

Welcome from Missouri State’s President

Dr. Michael T. NietzelPlease accept this invitation to join us for Missouri State University’s fourth annual Public Affairs Conference April 15-18, 2008, in Springfield.

Since having its Public Affairs mission signed into law in 1995, Missouri State University has been successful in integrating the mission into the fabric of campus life. From the curriculum to convocations to special events to living units to service learning, the campus has embraced the mission and all it stands for. Our national recognition from the Templeton Foundation and The Princeton Review speaks to that success.

A centerpiece of the statewide mission is the annual Public Affairs Conference, which brings together an impressive group of individuals from across the United States and around the world to discuss a serious topic. The participants bring a wide range of experience and viewpoints. The result is a series of discussions that are informative, challenging and inspiring.

This year’s theme — dealing effectively with cycles of conflict and violence — is an important topic for all of us. I hope you will join us for these four memorable days as we explore ideas and options.

Dr. Michael T. Nietzel
Missouri State President

Welcome from Missouri State’s Provost

Missouri State has a mission of promoting public affairs — our goal is to promote community engagement, cultural competence and ethical leadership in our students, faculty and staff. We focus on the major issues impacting public life, public policy and the well being of individuals, families, communities, nations and our planet. It is our mission to stimulate and enhance citizenship and service on the part of our students, faculty and community.

This year we are focusing on conflict and violence. These pervasive problems of the human condition continue to plague us, much as they did in centuries past. In some ways we, as governments and as individuals, seem to learn little from our experience; our problems are greater now than ever before. The technology and innovation that support personal conflict and combat yield damaging and even lethal outcomes in situations that once might have ended without harm. The speed with which news and information about terrorism and warfare travels the globe seems to inflame passions rather than to promote understanding.

It is easy to forget that violence, despite its potential political roots or implications, is always an intensely personal matter, for someone, somewhere. While we may be fascinated with the sights and sounds of violence in the media, and sometimes appear even numb to its effects, the true impact is shattering. Violence impacts families, schools and local communities, not just in the present, but in the future lives and world view of all who suffer from its effects.

Our public affairs mission is to work toward solutions as we strive to understand problems, examining the cultural factors that support conflict and violence and promoting the leadership and values required to overcome these challenges. At the conference you will find amazing stories of peace keeping and peace making, in situations where violence would have been a completely understandable, even normal, response. We learn about strategies to achieve conflict resolution and to offer understanding and forgiveness, in circumstances that challenge our humanity.

The public affairs agenda is not simply an intellectual exchange, but one that is expected to reach to the depths of human feeling, and promote a call to action and good works. The topics of this year’s conference offer us both an incredible challenge and a deeply meaningful opportunity to achieve that goal.

Dr. Belinda McCarthy
Missouri State Provost