SUU Conference to Tackle United States and Afghan Relations

Published: April 04, 2011 | Read Time: 2 minutes

Southern Utah University will host its first annual Sargon Heinrich Global Engagement Conference on Thursday, April 7, exploring the theme “Afghanistan and America: Complex Connections.”

According to Kurt Harris, director of SUU’s Sargon Heinrich Global Engagement Center, the relationship between the U.S. and Afghanistan is “quite obviously a strong topic of interest in the United States.” He continues, “This is an important conference because it brings together some of the lead figures working on creating stability in Afghanistan.”

For almost 10 years, U.S. soldiers have remained stationed in Afghanistan in efforts to protect American interests and help Afghanistan secure a more stable political system and economy.

Though the relationship between the two nations is a hot topic in the national and international media, the Sargon Heinrich conference at SUU is the first to explore the issue in an academic conference venue, according to Harris.

Considering the Global Engagement Center’s namesake and chief supporter, Sargon Heinrich, such discussions could not have found a better home than on SUU’s campus. Heinrich has “devoted his energy in recent years to building the economy of Afghanistan and improving the lives of its people,” said Harris.

Heinrich’s unique perspective should prove a valuable benefit to the students, faculty, staff and community members who choose to join in the discussion. The conference is free and open to the campus and general public.

Though happenings in Iraq headline the news, Jon McNaughtan, member of SUU’s President’s Fellowship, explains that some of the more meaningful things the United States has done in the Middle East have been in Afghanistan.

Thursday’s conference will explore the two countries’ impact on each other. Confirmed presenters include Afghanistan's former Deputy Ambassador to the U.S. and currently an official to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan Ashraf Haidari, Fellow at the Carr Center for Human Right Policy at Harvard University Michael Semple, Founder of the NGO Skatistan Oliver Petrovich and U.S. Central Command Operations Directorate Steve LaPlante.

The presenters will each have 40 minutes to present, with a 20-minute question and answer session to follow.

Though the conference is free, the Global Engagement Center asks those interested in attending to please contact the Center to give them a better picture of what to expect in terms of attendance.

Sargon Heinrich Global Engagement Center: 435-586-1995.

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