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Fulbright Hays-winning Whitworth professor Megan Hershey to present March 8 lecture on democracy in Africa

February 23, 2012

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Whitworth Assistant Professor of Political Science Megan Hershey, who specializes in African studies, will deliver the second lecture in the university's 55th annual Great Decisions Lecture Series. The series features five speakers who focus on current political, cultural and economic subjects of interest to the international community. The public is invited to attend the lectures free of charge. Hershey's lecture, "Democratic Challenges and Change in Contemporary Africa," will take place on Thursday, March 8, at 7:30 p.m. in the Robinson Teaching Theatre in Weyerhaeuser Hall at Whitworth University. For more information, please call (509) 777-4937.

During her lecture, Hershey will discuss a number of current events in Africa and their implications for democracy, including an update on the HIV/AIDS epidemic, recent religious violence in Nigeria, and the indictment of four high-profile Kenyans by the International Criminal Court in connection to the 2008 post-election violence in that country.

"I'm excited for Megan's first public presentation of her materials at Whitworth," says Patrick Van Inwegen, Whitworth associate professor of political science and chair of the department. "Since she has lived and studied in Africa, Megan has an excellent perspective on the future of democracy on the continent."

Van Inwegen adds that Hershey's dissertation showcases her field research in determining the effectiveness of non-governmental organizations, such as church-supported groups, in delivering effective treatment of HIV/AIDS in Kenya and how they can improve treatment by connecting with locals involved in that fight.

Hershey won the Fulbright Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad fellowship, as well as the Carlton T. Hodge Prize in African Studies, for her work on NGOs addressing HIV/AIDS in Kenya. She is proficient in Swahili, completed her field research in Kenya, and has also spent time in Tanzania and Sierra Leone.

Hershey, who joined the Whitworth faculty in 2011, received her Ph.D. from Indiana University and her bachelor's degree from Ursinus College. Her areas of academic expertise include comparative politics, African politics, international development, politics of HIV/AIDS, NGOs, and foreign aid.

In addition to the March 8 lecture, Great Decisions lectures will take place on March 29, April 12 and April 26. The lectures will begin at 7:30 p.m. and will be held in Weyerhaeuser Hall's Robinson Teaching Theatre. For information on upcoming lectures, please call (509) 777-4937. Great Decisions 2012 is sponsored by the Whitworth Political Science Department.

Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private liberal arts university affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA). The university, which has an enrollment of nearly 3,000 students, offers 60 undergraduate and graduate degree programs.


Kathy Fechter, academic program assistant, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4937 or

Emily Proffitt, public information officer, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4703 or