The Inaugural Conference on International Development (CID), organized by VIU’s School of Public & International Affairs (SPIA), featured 27 influential presenters on various topics important to the development world; everything from industries and energy, conflict and development, regional integration, children and diasporas, as well as the most recent challenges and success stories of development were brought to the table.

The entire conference was divided into five panels focusing on specific issues. Three plenary speakers also presented at the event which spanned two days from Friday, March 20 to Saturday, March 21, 2015. On Friday morning, Dr. Klara Bilgin opened the event with an introduction of the university, as well as an excellent summary of development goals, challenges, and strides across the globe in recent decades. She was followed by the first plenary speaker, Alexis Bonnell, Director, Office of Engagement and Communications, US Global Development Lab USAID, who talked about the innovative and collaborative work of the lab.

The first panel of the day centered around a discussion of industry and energy and was moderated by Dr. Michael Cain, Professor of Political Science at St. Mary’s College of Maryland and Senior Energy Manager at Engility. Mariana Neisuler, Senior South Asia Energy Officer at the US Department of State, Keunwon Song, PhD candidate at George Mason University, and Renata Ribeiro, PhD candidate at the Institute of Social and Political Studies, Rio de Janeiro State University joined the discussion.

The second panel, “Conflict and Development,” was led by CDR Arthur Gibb, Permanent Military Professor, Chair, Department of Leader Development and Research, at the United States Naval Academy. Dr. Justin Leach, Assistant Professor at Troy University, Ernest Ogbozor, PhD candidate at George Mason University, and Tahir Bushra, MA candidate at the University of Manitoba, Canada also presented.

Midday plenaries featured Faustine Wabwire, Senior Foreign Assistance Policy Analyst at Bread for the World and Tamara Arsenault, Program Innovation Specialist at Global Communities who spoke of their organizations’ practical experience in the field.

The final panel of the day was titled “21st Century Challenges: Food, Health, and Technology” and was moderated by Dr. Joshua B. Forrest, Associate Professor of Political Science, La Roche College. Dr. Forrest was joined by Tahereh Saheb, Lecturer at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and Dr. Emmanuel Munishi, Lecturer in Development Studies and Quality Assurance and Control Manager at the College of Business Education of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. The first day of the conference was brought to a close by a reception courtesy of the VIU President’s Office.

The following day featured two fascinating panels on regional integration and the effect of diasporas and development in a modern context, moderated by Malaika Walton, Senior Officer of Programs and Partnerships at Cuso International, and Dr. Kwaku Nuamah, Adjunct Professor at the VIU School of Public & International Affairs, respectively. The first panel included Dr. Robert Chalwell, Assistant Professor of Political Science at Broward College, Sally Mahmoud Ashour, Assistant to the Minister at the Egyptian Ministry of Social Solidarity, and Dr. David Owen, Assistant Professor, Department of Government and Political Affairs at Millersville University of Pennsylvania. Following the last panel, participants were invited for sightseeing in nearby Washington, DC.

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