James E. Smith Midwest Conference on World Affairs

James E SmithRecognizing the need to bring a strong international component to an undergraduate education, the University of Nebraska at Kearney sponsors this conference on global issues. The Midwest Conference on World Affairs began as an important campus and community activity in the 1960’s. In 1988, the event was renamed “The James E. Smith Midwest Conference on World Affairs” in honor of a professor whose vision and dedication significantly affected the continuation of the conference.


Many issues that shape the quality of our lives have an international dimension. Global economic interdependence is now a reality that no nation can ignore. The development of appropriate environmental strategies, the resolution of regional conflicts and the enhancement of human rights all require a global perspective. The fundamental objectives of the World Affairs program include: (1) to introduce important global issues to the students and local community; (2) to expose conference participants to a variety of viewpoints from other countries; and (3) to promote global awareness.
The James E. Smith Midwest Conference on World Affairs serves as an opportunity for students to hear the opinions of leaders in the global community and to discuss current and pressing world issues.

Given the geographic location of Nebraska in the center of the continental United States, this conference is, for many people, their best chance to interact with representatives of other cultures. All events are open to the public and there is no admission charge. The University works with local civic organizations to create opportunities for community-wide participation.

Through the information provided at this conference, we hope to introduce UNK faculty, students, and the broader Kearney community and beyond to existing options for activism. It is our hope that members of the audience will be sufficiently inspired by what they hear at the conference to maintain a lifelong interest in international affairs.

2020 Conference agendas and presenter biographies to be posted in the future.