Mahwah, New Jersey - This year’s Liberian Studies Association annual conference has been held at Ramapo College with a call by former Interim President Amos Sawyer on researchers to begin to focus on questions about the policy implementation processes in Liberia.
Former President Sawyer acknowledged the contributions by academics to understanding the country’s development problems and their causes, but said there was now a greater need for a rigorous study of the way policies aimed at addressing these problems are being implemented.
Delivering the keynote address at the association’s annual conference, Dr. Sawyer pointed out that the findings and recommendations from these types of studies would help enhance public policy implementation and ensure an efficient use of resources for the country’s development.
The conference was held at the Ramapo College of New Jersey under the theme “Governance, Institutional Quality and Elections: Prospects and Challenges for Inclusive Democratic Statebuilding in Liberia,” and attended by a large number of academics and non-academics who are either conducting research on Liberia or have worked or are working in Liberia.
Prominent among people at this year’s conference were Madam Sarah Morrison, former Public Information Officer at the US Embassy in Monrovia and Dr. Peter Mercer, President of Ramapo College.
In addition, Dr. James Guseh, Dr. Stephen Kiefa, Dr. George Kieh and Counselor Mohammedu Jones participated in the conference.
Issues examined at this year’s conference included the current constitution review process, campaign finance, the use of the Vai language in the fight against Ebola, microfinance and women’s political capital, the relationship between the U.S.-Liberian Dollar exchange rate and the price of the country’s primary exports, and the current reform of primary education.
Others included the role of online radio in the discourses of reconciliation in post-war Liberia and its diaspora, and the challenges facing the current land reform process.
Dr. George Gonpu, a Professor of Economics at Ramapo College, was elected and installed as President of the association replacing Dr. Samuel Wai Johnson, Jr.
The Liberian Studies Association conference, the largest gathering of scholars working on Liberia, has been held annually since 1968.
In 2009, the association’s meeting was held in Monrovia at the University of Liberia by the Association of Liberian Universities.