Former Interim President
Amos Claudius Sawyer
The 49th annual conference of the Liberian Studies Association (LSA) held last week at Ramapo College of New Jersey was highly inspiring, engaging and memorable. It provided wonderful opportunities for Liberians and other participants to reflect on, in light of the theme of the conference, the challenges and prospects facing the country. A number of scholars, policy researchers, social critics and political activists, including former President Amos Sawyer, participated in presenting and discussing several papers, films and posters on a variety of topics relevant to the theme of the conference. Dr. Amos Sawyer emphasized that there were gaps between policy intentions and their implementations in Liberia. Accordingly, he challenged LSA members to consider expanding scholarship in order to produce practical ideas and models that will contribute to enhancing the implementation of helpful policies in Liberia.
Also present were both the President, Provost and two Academic Deans of Ramapo College. In addition, the lead actor in the film, "Out of My Hand," which to the best of my knowledge is one of the first Liberian films trading globally through Netflix was present. Participants at the conference viewed the film and engaged, Mr. Bishop, the lead actor in the film, who responded to comments on his experience in the film as an actor in his role as a rubber plantation worker in Liberia who immigrates to the US and becomes a cab driver in NYC.
The conference ended with a renewed determination to think about ways to translate the ideas shared at the conference into practical actions to assist Liberia's state building and economic development. Especially in the area of education, there was almost unanimous agreement on the need to think about ways to increase scholarship and improve education, its institutions, accessibility and educational opportunities for Liberian children. It was also discussed that improvements in the quality and quantity of education were essential to help improve voting behaviors in October 2017, reduce fraud and produce innovative means to fight corruption and abuses of power in Liberia. Furthermore, in order to facilitate the pursuit of the goals of the LSA, its members attending the conference elected me as president of the LSA replacing Dr. Samuel Johnson, Jr., whose term has ended.
Although we did not have the opportunity of your presence at the conference, we missed your potential contributions and hope you will consider joining us at the 50th annual conference in 2018 (venue and date will be announced later)...
George P. Gonpu, Ph.D.
Anisfield School of Business
Ramapo College of New Jersey
Mahwah, New Jersey