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Spring 2017 Seminar - Governance, Elections, Nationalism, and the Building of an Inclusive Democratic State

Elections in Central African Republic - UN Media

The Institute for African Development hosts a weekly seminar series under the general theme “Issues in African Development.” The series examines a different sub-theme each semester and has become a key introductory course on African development at Cornell. It is widely acclaimed as an excellent introduction to African politics and the challenges of development on the continent.

The Spring 2017 Issues in African Development seminar will look at issues of governance and the building of an inclusive democratic state. As Göran Hyden has observed, “governance is at the heart of Africa’s challenges because it has implications for the continent’s social and economic development as well as its political stability.” It is a vehicle for sustainable economic development and poverty alleviation. The purpose of democratic governance is to make the rules of the political game acceptable and legitimate in the eyes of as many stakeholders as possible. 

Many challenges continue to manifest themselves in African governance. The introduction of multiparty elections in the early 1990s brought optimism about the prospects of democratic consolidation, but despair is also creeping in as the conduct and results of many elections have been widely disputed. While elections alone cannot speak to the quality of a country’s democracy, they are an important indicator as part of a broader political framework that promotes good governance, the rule of law, and equal participation in politics. 

In the spring semester we propose to examine the question of governance in Africa in its broadest sense. The seminar series will explore the state of governance in Africa, the challenges of developing inclusive governance structures, and the challenge of managing ethnicity in Africa. How do we ensure that governance structures promote gender equality and the empowerment of women? How do we improve governance and strengthen national institutions in ways that ensure growth rather than promoting control and oppression? These issues must be addressed as we seek to consolidate democratic governance in Africa.

Begins February 2, 2017

2:30 PM every Thursday

G08 Uris Hall

Seminar Poster