Research begins on African-US relations

Dr. Steve Wagner

Dr. Steve Wagner

Following the completion of his book, Dr. Steve Wagner, associate professor of history, is directing his attention to a new project.

Wagner received approval to spend the fall 2007 semester researching the history of relations between the United States and Africa. Wagner plans to concentrate primarily on sub-Saharan Africa due to the varying characteristics of the continent as a whole. Even with Missouri Southern’s international mission there are currently no courses offered in African history.

“They like you to pursue your own research and bring something back to the University,” Wagner said.

He hopes to prepare an introductory course to African history when he returns in the spring of 2008.

“This would be a hand-in-glove fit with our international mission,” said Dr. Chad Stebbins, director of the institute of international studies.

Currently Southern offers only limited class pertaining to Africa and its culture. As of now, Wagner does not expect to travel to Africa during his sabbatical term due to financial means. However he does plan to dedicate the time to utilizing all his resources to research the in-depth history of crucial points in U.S. and African history.

“In doing the history of South African relations the apartheid is definitely a hot spot,” he said.

The hopeful addition of an Introduction to African History course seems to be supported by the students. In a recent research course taught by Wagner two students chose topics relating to U.S. African relations. Though Southern dedicated a semester to Africa nine years ago, Wagner believes the University needs a greater understanding of African culture.

“That they chose the full continent of Africa shows how little we know about the society,” he said.

Wagner has traveled to multiple areas of Europe and Vietnam and hopes to be able to take students to Africa in the future.

“I wouldn’t want to take students if I hadn’t been there already,” he said.

If able to travel, Wagner hopes to visit Senegal and Botswana.

“Senegal has a well-established democracy,” he said.