The recent international seminar held in UoG on the topic: “Is china-Africa Bilateral Trade more than Resource Focused? Rhetoric Vs Reality”, was a marvelous example as to what extent that higher education institutions around the world today are expected to respond to much higher, diverse and increasingly complex and interconnected economic, political, and national security realities and challenges confronting the global landscape than before.
The researcher himself, an Ethiopian Diaspora, Dr. Aye Mengistu, an associate professor in solbridge International school of Business, Woosong University, republic of Korea was thespeaker of the seminar. This international event held on April 25, 2015, in the HDP hall of UoG’s head quarter was convened by the college of business and economics (CBE). The nature of the topic- its being onthe widely politicized issue of China’s growing engagement in Africa through bilateral trade, finance and investment, and its local meaning and implication to Ethiopia seem to have been the motivating factors for the seminar to drawmuchattentionand ignitesuch an unusual hot discussion and debate among the participants. The seminar brought together more than 30 participants representing the various units of the CBE, and others.
As recognized in the opening remark made by Dr. DesalegnMengesha, academic vice president of UoGduring the occasion, even though the seminar is just a small indication of Dr. Aye’s relentless efforts, and the impact he is making towards the betterment of our university and the country at large, it was his own initiative to deliver the seminar to UoG’community, devoting his tight schedule while he is here in Ethiopia to facilitate a much bigger nationally significant initiative between Ethiopia and Korea.
According to the vice president, Dr. Aye is a uniquely visionary and exemplary Ethiopian fellow who took the initiative and devotedly played an instrumental role to realize the recently officially signed cooperation agreement between UoG and University of Korea, within a very short period of time…Inspired by the problems he observed during his visit in UoG’s teaching hospital a year ago Dr. Aye has been playing the role of a change agent for UoG.It is a rare honor to have such a prominent guest speaker as Dr. Aye and share his very rich international research and academic experience.
Based on the parameters or variables he considered in his study most of the rhetoric told, and propagated even through famous international newspapers and magazines about china’s ‘resource-focused’ bilateral trade engagement with Africa are found to be exaggerated, if not unrealistic.
As the point of discussion he introducedwas timely and debatable, a number of questions and opinions were raised from the audiences’ side for which Dr. Aye responded collegially based on his research findings. Some of these questions and opinions raised from very diverse perspectives by the participants were stimulating to future
research, and added more color to the seminar, providing new and inspiring ways to view, explore, enjoy and understand different phenomena related to the topic.
However, Dr. Aye stressed and advised the participants, as academicians, not to trust and/or rely on “hearsays”, and even the commonest “rhetoric” about a phenomenon,widely propagated throughfamous press outlets, he told rather to depend on empirical evidences proved through research which is the pursuit of truth. As it was observed during the occasion, most of the participants acknowledged what Dr. Aye did and they were grateful to him.
In the after noon, Dr. Aye held a consultative meeting with the faculty of the school of Economics, during which the options of extending specific partnership areas that can be established between the school and Korean university counterparts have been discussed .
Apart from its significance in integrating international experiences and perspectives into the university’s teaching, research and community service engagement missions, the seminar proved to be a great success, bringing a number of outcomes: The seminar informs the current changing expectations that universities like UoG are
required to respond to on international issues beyond the national and regional boundaries. The results and recommendations of such wide-reaching international researches that are internally meaningful and with wider scope of national and international perspectives and expert commentary, do also have critical importance to provide focus, to make sense of the complex external forces to those inside the nation, and to interpret it to those outside and thus evaluate the realities in the nation at both the policy and practice levels.
Besides the seminar is supposed to stimulate participants and give them insight to produce research in the future that are tailored to address wider scope beyond the local and national socio, economic, political… needs.
As narrow focus in research, discourages international research partnerships, and can seriously impede the collaborative and global development of knowledge, the seminar is believed to have an important role in facilitating and informing institutional decision making and advancing conversations in UoG at the leadership level to evaluate the future strategies and management practices, on research and internationalization. Equally important, it provided opportunities for connection and networking to participants which could spark new collaborations in the future.
Vice Director, International relations
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