UMA Ties to the Camden Conference
The University of Maine at Augusta’s relationship with the Camden Conference began almost a decade ago as the idea of Deborah Meehan. She is currently the Executive Director of nine off-campus UMA centers. As she puts it, “Years ago when I attended the Camden Conference as a community member I regretted that local university students (URock) were not participating. Busy lives, not enough funds and questions about how to fit the CC into their academic programs were barriers to participation that I wanted to tackle.”
Through much effort, Meehan was able to establish a class as an independent study course in history that could be applied to students’ degree programs. With the assistance of Kimberly Scott and the Education Committee of the Camden Conference, course design and development by adjunct professor Peter Lodge, and key financial assistance from Bangor Savings Bank for conference fees, the class has become an annual University of Maine Augusta catalogue course offered each spring. Beginning with just three students attending the 26th Annual Camden Conference, titled “The Middle East—What Next?”, class size has and interest in the course expanded. Assigned readings on each year’s new topics and attendance at the annual conference are class requirements. UMA participants have gained great opportunities to learn about important international topics from their readings, class discussions, and lectures at the conference by experts in the field.
The Camden Conference offers a unique opportunity for University of Maine Augusta students. As Meehan explains, “[UMA] students are typically older, working and caring for family while also attending the University. Many are first-generation college students and they can be hesitant about participating in something that could be an intimidating academic forum. But not so with the CC. Each year students return inspired, confident in their contributions and eager to learn more.”
UMA students have participated in the Camden Conference’s “Bill Taylor Essay Contest,” and since 2014 have won a number of contest awards by showcasing the knowledge they have gained through both their UMA courses and the conference itself. The University of Maine at Augusta continues to view the Camden Conference on International Affairs as an important learning experience for its students and looks forward to continuing the relationship.
Image: UMA students at Strand, 2020 from Left to Right: Shale Peters, Celena Zacchai, Chelsea Kidd, Sean Bunnell, Tracy Pinkham, Zoe Crowe, Kathleen Soper.
Past UMA winners of essay contest:
2015-Brad O’Brien, “Current State of US Russia Diplomatic Relations“
Stacy Gooldrups, “Russia’s Failed Democracy“
2016-Danny Chambers, “Liberia: Governance and its Socioeconomic Impact“
2017-Jonas Eichenlaub, “Refugees Can Be Part of the Solution: The Challenges of Lebanon“
Zoe FitzGerald Beckett, “Climate Change Refugees: What’s in a Name?”
Brad O’Brien, “Oh, Child Left Behind: The Next “Lost Generation”
2019- Pamela Schaltenbrand, “China’s Belt and Road Initiative”
Melissa Verburgt,”The Future of U.S.- China Trade: Partners or Opponents”