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Ethiopia Forum

Ethiopia Forum: Challenges and Prospects for Constitutional Democracy in Ethiopia

Symposia and Panel Discussions

March 22-24, 2019
Michigan State University
International Center
427 N Shaw Ln, Room 115
East Lansing, MI 48824

See Prospectus here.

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Program Objectives

Faculty from Michigan State University, Western Michigan University, Central Michigan University and other scholars from around the MSU community have launched an Ethiopia Forum with symposia and panel discussions to take place at the International Center, Room 115, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan, over the weekend of March 22, 2019 (during the Adwa Victory Month and the year designated as Year of Global Africa).  The Forum will explore the challenges and opportunities to transition to constitutional democracy in Ethiopia, and a way forward for a united and peaceful Ethiopia and its neighbors.  The principal objective of the Forum will be primarily educational with a focus to promote open and healthy debates and discussions on key themes that are of critical importance for Ethiopia’s future.  The Forum is intended for knowledgeable academic and public intellectuals with expertise on the region to apply reality-based analysis and offer policy options for a united, peaceful and democratic Ethiopia. The symposium papers (up to ten pages of pithy compositions) and brief reports of the panel presentations will be edited into a monograph for dissemination to various audiences including personalities in the Ethiopian national leadership and institutions and organizations in Ethiopia and elsewhere whose mission is to make Ethiopia become a united, peaceful, modern, and progressive state.

Program Components

  • Symposia featuring invited speakers
  • Keynote address and dinner/reception
  • Panel discussions led by invited panelists

Confirmed Symposia Speakers
and Themes for Their Papers

  • Alemante Gebre Selassie, Professor Emeritus of Law, College of William and Mary, Constitutional Issues: Individual Citizen Rights vs. Group Ethnic Rights in Ethiopia
  • Almaz Zewde, Professor of Sociology, Howard University, Human Rights in Ethiopia
  • Asrat Tessema, Professor Emeritus of Business, Eastern Michigan University, Economic Issues: Finance and Investment
  • Assefa Mehretu, Professor Emeritus of Geography, Michigan State University, Federal Boundary Formations
  • Berhanu Abegaz, Professor and Chair of Economics, College of William and Mary, Economic Issues: Development Models for Ethiopia
  • Berhanu Mengistu, Professor of Public Policy and Administration, Old Dominion University, Peace, Justice, Truth and Reconciliation in Ethiopia
  • Daniel Kendie, Professor Emeritus of History, Henderson University, Regional Integration for Peace and Development in the Horn of Africa
  • Daniel Teffera, Professor Emeritus of Economics, Ferris State University, Economic Issue: Land Reform and Development in Ethiopia
  • Getachew Begashaw, Professor and Chair of Economics, Harper College, Good Governance in Ethiopia with Checks and Balances
  • Messay Kebede, Professor of Philosophy, U of Dayton, Role of Ethnic Identity in a Modern Polity
  • Sisay Asefa, Professor of Economics, Western Michigan University, Economic Issues: Agriculture & Food Security
  • Solomon Getahun, Professor of History, Central Michigan University, The Role of the Ethiopian Diaspora
  • Tadesse Giorgis, Professor of Psychology, Chicago State University, Education Policy and Practice in Ethiopia

Program Dates

Forum events will take place on March 23 and 24, 2019.  Guest arrival will be on Friday, March 22.  Two symposia are scheduled during the morning and afternoon hours on Saturday, March 23.  A keynote lecture and reception/dinner will be on Saturday evening.  Two panel discussions are scheduled for Sunday morning, March 24.


There is no registration fee to participate at this event. However,all participants (presenters and attendants) are kindly requested to fill in the online registration form to help the organizers plan for refreshments, and for the conference dinner/reception.  You may send a message to Assefa Mehretu (mehretu(at) for information on the Ethiopia Forum.

Register Now


Travel to East Lansing

Destination airports are Lansing (LAN), Detroit (DTW) and Flint (FNT).  Those who fly into Lansing (LAN), shuttle services, taxis or Uber are available for the 20 minute ride to East Lansing.  For those who fly into Detroit (DTW), the Michigan Flyer runs directly from Detroit Airport via Ann Arbor to East Lansing for about $25.  For those who may arrive in Flint (FNT), there are Greyhound/Indian Trails available for rides to East Lansing.

Hotel Accommodation

Rooms have been reserved for invited speakers at Towne Place Suites of East Lansing (2855 Hannah Plaza, East Lansing, MI 48823).  There will be a few more rooms that will be available on a first come first get basis for registered conference participants who will pay their own accommodations.  For invited speakers, check in date is Friday, March 22 and check out is on Sunday, March 24, 2019.  Please reserve early to access one of the reserved rooms at the Towne Place Suites.

There are many other hotels/motels in the East Lansing area in close proximity to Michigan State University. Please consult your Google Maps.

Ethiopia Forum Sponsors

The African Studies Center, as the principal sponsor of the Ethiopia Forum, has generously offered its office platform and staff to assist in a variety of preparatory procedures including reserving the conference venue, booking hotel accommodations, logistical details, publicity protocols, and managing of finances. The following sponsors are acknowledged for their generous financial contributions to cover cost of the Forum. 

  • African Studies Center, MSU
  • College of Social Science, MSU
  • Department of Geography, MSU
  • Ethiopian American Foundation, Michigan
  • International Studies and Programs, MSU
  • James Madison College, MSU
  • Residential College for Arts and Humanities, MSU
  • The Graduate School, MSU

Contact Information

Please direct questions to Assefa Mehretu (mehretu(at), Room 103, Department of Geography, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824.  Office phone: 517-355-3409.

Organizing Group

Abraham Engeda, Professor of Mechanical Engineering, MSU (engeda(at)

Aklilu Zeleke, Professor of Mathematics, Lyman Briggs College and Department of Statistics & Probability, MSU (zeleke(at)

Assefa Mehretu, Professor Emeritus of Geography, MSU (mehretu(at)

Imru Assefa, Analyst (Retired), Product Testing, Bioanalytical Chemistry (mogesash14(at)

Kifle Negash, Economist, Foreign Service Officer, Department of State (Retired) (kinegash(at)

Sisay Asefa, Professor of Economics, Western Michigan University (sisay.asefa(at)

Solomon Getahun, Professor of History, Central Michigan University (getahuns(at)