Guyana, Michigan Universities to Develop Joint Conflict Resolution Studies GEORGETOWN, Guyana
The university in this ethnically divided South American country and another university in Michigan are planning to develop research and a curriculum in political and ethnic conflict resolution, organizers said early this month.
The University of Guyana and Detroit’s Wayne State University have agreed to exchange faculty, students and research in conflict resolution studies in Guyana over the next five years.
“It is very timely and significant for us, given the conflicts which have arisen and which we are facing in our country today,” says Vice-Chancellor James Rose of Guyana’s only university.
Rose and other officials from both universities, which began discussing the project last year, signed a memorandum of cooperation on Oct. 1.
Guyana’s population of just over 700,000 is almost evenly divided between people of African and East Indian descent. Black Guyanese largely support the opposition, while ethnic East Indians support the governing party.
As a majoritarian democracy, however, the government is run by the party that wins a simple majority in elections, often leaving a large minority opposition that feels underrepresented.
In recent months, violence has increased drastically, with unidentified gunmen targeting police officers and business leaders. So far this year 12 officers have been killed, compared to seven officers killed over the last 20 years.
Many Black Guyanese have seen the gunmen as freedom fighters, demanding an end to perceived discrimination against Blacks. The government, dominated by Guyanese of East Indian descent, has denied the accusations of discrimination.
Mark Kirton, dean of social sciences at the Guyana university, said the conflict resolution studies could help Guyana work out some issues of representative governance.
“Guyana has never been short of conflicts,” he says.
Conflict resolution is also a new subject for the Detroit university, a public school enrolling 31,000 undergraduate and postgraduate students.
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