Dr. Gerald Caplan, a leading Canadian authority on genocide and genocide prevention, was on campus November 6-8 as the 2007 Carol Hoffmann Collins Global Scholar-in-Residence at the McCulloch Center for Global Initiatives. Caplan spent three busy days talking with members of the College and larger communities about genocide and genocide prevention and the development challenges facing Africa.
Caplan is author of Rwanda: The Preventable Genocide (2000) (the final report for the International Panel of Eminent Personalities to Investigate the 1994 Genocide in Rwanda); the Report on the Well-being of African Children (for UNICEF); and The Betrayal of Africa (forthcoming in early 2008). In addition to his scholarship, Caplan serves as a senior consultant to the African Union and the United Nations, and also as volunteer chair of the International Advisory Board for the University of Toronto Centre for International Health's HIV/AIDS Initiative for Africa.
The fourth annual scholar-in-residence hosted by the McCulloch Center, Caplan engaged the community in dialogue in a variety of settings, from lectures to classes to informal gatherings.
His visit began Tuesday evening with a faculty seminar and dinner, where he spoke on the U.S. role in African development. On Wednesday and Thursday he met with students in five classes from the departments of history, geography, anthropology, and politics. "He's able to present complex ideas in a very clear and comprehensible way," said Abigail Avoryie '08, a student in geography professor Girma Kebbede's class, Africa: Problems and Prospects. He met students informally over lunch on Wednesday; on Thursday he had lunch with doctors and midwives from Baystate Hospital in Springfield to discuss public health issues in Africa.
On Wednesday evening, Caplan addressed an enthusiastic, standing-room-only audience in Gamble Auditorium in a lecture titled "Genocide Prevention and the International Community: A Fable for our Time?" (See link to audio below)
Caplan expressed admiration and respect for the students he met during his three days on campus. At the end of class before lunch on Thursday, after more than an hour of questions, seven students still had their hands raised. "What's the matter with you guys?" he asked, smiling. "Don't you ever stop?" Later, he said, "There's something really special about these kids. They are into all parts of these issues."
Eva Paus, Carol Hoffman Collins Director and professor of economics, was delighted with the success of this year's program. "The intention behind the scholar-in-residence series is to 'embed' an international expert for a few days in the MHC curriculum and provide many different venues for discussions of critical issues in our global world. Gerry Caplan interacted with many members of the Mount Holyoke community; the intensity of the discussions and conversations demonstrated students' deep interest in the issues and their willingness to ask tough questions of Caplan and themselves."
Carol Hoffman Collins '63, who lives in London, was also on campus and attended many of Caplan's presentations. "I'm so impressed with the program," she said. "Eva does a wonderful job. I hope to come again next year."