Prof. travels to Iraq to teach

first_imgA Notre Dame political science professor had the unique opportunity last month to teach students about “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” in a place where such terms are foreign and difficult to grasp.Professor Vincent Muñoz traveled to the American University of Iraq-Sulaimani (AUI-S) to teach students about the principles behind the United States Constitution and Declaration of Independence.“The ideas were new and not familiar. They really wanted to know what it means to have the right to life, the right to liberty,” Muñoz said. AUI-S, a private university, opened in 2007 and offers an American-style liberal arts education. All classes are taught in English.Muñoz met AUI-S Provost John Agresto last November after the Notre Dame professor gave a lecture about the Constitution in Philadelphia. Agresto later invited Muñoz to teach students about American democracy in a workshop setting at AUI-S.Muñoz left for Iraq on March 25 and returned on April 5, traveling 30 hours each way. Notre Dame’s Institute for Scholarship in the Liberal Arts (ISLA) funded the trip.“I definitely want to thank Agustin Fuentes, director of the ISLA,” Muñoz said.On a typical day, Muñoz did some of his own work in the morning, ate lunch with faculty in the afternoon, met with his class and held informal conversations with students after class.“I taught for five days, but the total trip was 10 days,” Muñoz said. “I taught a 75 minute class which tended to go to 90 minutes. Anyone could come, and more students came every day.”Muñoz said the students arrived at each seminar class well prepared and with many questions.“The first day we did the Declaration of Independence and [discussed] what the purpose of government is. The second day we did the Federalist Number 10. [We then] spent two days on religious freedom and one day on constitutional design,” Muñoz said. “Students were so engaged because Iraq just wrote a constitution.”Muñoz said most students looked to America as the ideal democratic society.“[We discussed that] liberal democracy has its advantages and disadvantages,” he said. “They are so enamored with the idea of democracy, to have someone talk about the disadvantages of democracy was new to them.”Muñoz said some female students worried about the abuses of freedom. These students were concerned too much freedom could lead to an increased prevalence of abortions and pornography.Toward the end of his stay in Iraq, Muñoz gave a lecture open to the entire university titled “Constitutional Democracy and Religious Freedom.”“In the lecture I did a comparison between the Iraqi and American constitutions,” Muñoz said. “Islam is the established religion in the Iraqi constitution. I compared that to how we don’t have an official religion in America. Students thought it would be impossible not to have an established religion [In Iraq].”Muñoz said students were surprised a separation of church and state is not considered anti-religious. They also struggled to comprehend the idea of a limited government.“They had not seen the arguments for these ideas before,” Muñoz said.Muñoz said his class felt “in many ways, just like a seminar at Notre Dame.”But he said teaching students who are so unfamiliar with concepts like freedom of speech and freedom of religion — concepts most Americans do not think twice about — was refreshing.“[The trip] reminded me why I love to teach these things, because the students were so hungry to learn and the ideas were so new to them,” Muñoz said. “The eagerness of the students was infectious — they desire so much to live as a stable democracy like America.”last_img read more

Akinwunmi Heads NFF’s Reform Committee

first_imgAmaju Pinnick Given three months to complete restructuring of Nigeria footballDuro IkhazuagbeAmaju Melvin Pinnick’s desire to bequeath a sustainable football culture for the country got a boost wednesday with the naming of a first-of-its-kind Reform Committee for the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF). The committee is a fulfilment of the promise made by Pinnick when handed a fresh four-year mandate at the NFF’s Elective Congress in Katsina last month. He said in his acceptance speech then that the administration of the game in the country would be reformed to bring it in line with global best practice.First Vice President of the NFF, Seyi Akinwunmi, is saddled with completing the restructuring the country’s football in three months. The constitution of the committee whose membership cuts across a broad spectrum of football stakeholders was endorsed at the 74th Annual General Assembly of the federation in Asaba last week.NFF 2nd Vice President/LMC Chairman Shehu Dikko will serve as Vice Chairman, with other Board members Ibrahim Musa Gusau and Chidi Ofo Okenwa also in, as well as NFF General Secretary, Dr. Mohammed Sanusi.There are also Chief Taiwo Ogunjobi (Chairman, Osun State FA), Rt. Hon. Margaret Icheen (Chairman, Benue State FA), Porbeni Ogun (Chairman, Bayelsa State FA), Nasiru Saidu (Chairman, Sokoto State FA), Alh. Garba Mohammed (Chairman, Yobe State FA), Dr. Kweku Tandoh (Executive Chairman, Lagos State Sports Commission), Godwin Dudu Orumen (Executive Chairman, Edo State Sports Commission), Alh. Farouk Yarma Adamu (Commissioner for Youth Empowerment, Gombe State), Chief (Mrs) Dilichukwu Onyedinma (Director of Sports, FCT), Alh. Abba Yola (Chairman, NFF Technical Study Group) and Isaac Danladi, Chairman of NPFL Club Owners).Others are Alh. Shuaib Gara-Gombe, business mogul Yemi Idowu, Sampson Ebomhe and sports journalists Tony Ubani, Felix Awogu, Osasu Obayiuwana, Godwin Enakhena and Chisom Ezeoke, as well as one representative each of the Nigeria Football Coaches Association, Nigeria Referees Association and the National Association of Nigeria Professional Footballers.Already, the committee has appointed George Etomi and Partners as independent Secretary/Legal Adviser (with liberty to seek other legal advice). The law firm will do all the collation and categorization of data. The Chairman, Akinwunmi who is an attorney, has also appointed leading journalist, Mr. Colin Udoh, as his Special Assistant with specific responsibilities for research and social media enablement.Akinwunmi revealed yesterday that the committee will have a dedicated website and relevant email addresses (@Nigeriafootballreforms), “for people in every nook and cranny in Nigeria and also in the diaspora to be able to contribute to this debate and reform, as we will post all and any relevant document for review and general discussions.There could even be scheduled Q and A session on particular topics to be handled by specific persons.“In line with FIFA and CAF best practice, of these members shall be selected a 9 (nine) – Member Bureau that will serve as the engine room to drive the committee work and manage the day to day activities of the committee. There will be a minimum of six meetings (twice a month) and a 2-3 Day retreat at the end of the exercise. All other interactions would be done online.”It was further gathered that the committee will visit each of the geopolitical zones (not all the members) to have town hall discussions and meet specific groups, as well as engage a permanent media team to cover every meeting and interaction across the country on a retainer basis (ultimately, materials would be produced and archived for posterity).Share this:FacebookRedditTwitterPrintPinterestEmailWhatsAppSkypeLinkedInTumblrPocketTelegramlast_img read more