Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump walks with Mexico President Enrique Pena Nieto at the end of their joint statement at Los Pinos, the presidential official residence, in Mexico City, Wednesday.
Dario Lopez-Mills / AP

As the United States gears up for the 2016 presidential election, voters must tackle the ever-present concerns of foreign policy and international engagement. In an era of globalization, increasingly open channels of information, disputes over land and growing trans-national trade, Americans are trying to figure out America’s role in the world.

Toyin Falola at Sokoto State University in Nigeria, August 2014.
toyin falola / Flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0)

When Toyin Falola was a teenager, he dropped out of high school to join the first major peasant rebellion in post-colonial Africa. The two-year Agbekoya conflict in southwest Nigeria claimed the life of his grandfather, and by the time Falola entered college, the riots shaped everything.

Joshua Landis and Rebecca Cruise remember former United Nations Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali, who died this week at age 93. He served in the post from 1992-1996.

Then, Suzette Grillot talks with Northwestern University social anthropologist Adia Benton. Her research in Sierra Leone focuses on what she calls "HIV exceptionalism."

AIDS prevention sign in Sierra Leone
Karin Lindström/Union to Union / Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS estimates about 54,000 people live with the disease in Sierra Leone. The small, predominantly Muslim country on the tip of West Africa was ravaged by civil war throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, and more recently saw widespread cases of the Ebola virus during the 2014 outbreak in the region.

Shevaun Williams / Shevaun Williams & Associates/World Literature Today

For 45 years, Meshack Asare has vividly written and illustrated stories for children that relate to their experiences growing up in Africa.

The Ghanaian author and artist grew up in the 1940s and 50s, the son of an accountant and a trader. His father loved to read – history books and magazines filled with vibrant color photographs. But Asare says there was nothing for a child to read other than textbooks designed to teach English reading and writing.

“It began with not reading children’s books, or the kinds that I would have loved as a child,” Asare said.

Water4's Steve Stewart demonstrates the electricity-free water pump the organization uses in its charitable work in Africa.
Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

Oklahoma’s small water systems face a big problem: Drinking water standards are getting stricter, their treatment plants are becoming obsolete, and many cities and towns can’t get the loans and grants needed for expensive upgrades.

Rebecca Cruise and Suzette Grillot discuss the problem of shipping hazardous material in light of the Chinese port explosion, Amnesty International’s announcement that they want to see the sex trade decriminalized, and the African continent's first full year without a polio case.

Then, Suzette talks with Taiwanese author T’ien-Wen Chu. She won the University of Oklahoma's Newman Prize for Chinese Literature for her collection of short stories that intimately draws the reader into the text, and chronicles Taiwan's fraught linguistic past.

Hunter Defends Big Game Hunting

Aug 5, 2015

The professional hunter who helped an American kill a popular lion named Cecil in Zimbabwe last month said in court today that he had not done anything illegal. He is accused of luring Cecil off of a park where the lion had protected status, onto a neighboring game farm, then trying to destroy the lion’s tracking collar.

Zimbabwean officials now want to extradite two Americans: Minnesota dentist Walter Palmer, who shot Cecil with a bow and arrow, and Dr. Jan Seski, a Pennsylvania doctor who killed a different lion in a different hunt a few months earlier. Both deny wrongdoing.

For some time, researchers suspected that the São José-Paquete de Africa, a Portuguese slave ship, was lost in 1794 off the coast of Cape Town, South Africa. But only now, after years of painstaking work, have they finally confirmed it.

Rebecca Cruise and Suzette Grillot discuss the former military dictator who’s about to take over for Goodluck Jonathan as Nigeria’s new president, and two dozen looted religious artifacts recently returned to Italy.

Then, Rebecca talks with war photographer Ashley Gilbertson. His most recent book, Bedrooms of the Fallen, depicts the homes of men and women who died in Iraq and Afghanistan to remember how they lived, rather than how they died.

Muhammad Buhari speaks at the international think tank Chatham House on February 26, 2015.
Anieduugo / Wikimedia Commons

In the mid-1980s, Muhammadu Buhari ruled Nigeria as an iron-fisted military dictator. But today, Buhari represents a transition toward democracy for the country as the first Nigerian to come to power through a democratic process.

Rebecca Cruise joins Suzette Grillot to discuss an expansion of government surveillance in France that critics compare to the PATRIOT Act here in the United States, and they talk about African child migrants and draw comparisons to similar issues at the U.S./Mexican border.

Then Rebecca talks with Trinity University political scientist Sussan Siavoshi She's spent her career studying an Iranian cleric who almost became the country's Supreme Leader. They'll also talk about gender issues in the Islamic Republic.

A Pen-Pal Friendship Changes Two Lives

May 4, 2015

When Pennsylvania schoolgirl Caitlin Alifirenka was offered a pen pal in a foreign country, she chose Zimbabwe because she liked the sound of it. But as she began to correspond with Martin Ganda, who lived in Zimbabwe with his family, she had no idea the extent to which that correspondence would change both of their lives.

As Alifirenka began to learn more about the poverty that Martin faced on a daily basis, her perceptions of her own world began to change.

Joshua Landis discusses Tuesday night’s State of the Union address and President Obama’s proposal to combat the self-proclaimed Islamic State, and Rebecca Cruise provides an update on anti-Islam protests in Leipzig, Germany.

Then Joshua and Suzette Grillot talk with University of Oklahoma sociologist Loretta Bass about first- and second-generation immigrant populations in France, and revisit issues of race and identity.

French flags
Quinn Dombrowski / Flickr

The relationship between racial identity and national identity is a contentious subject in France.

France’s National Assembly voted in 2013 to remove any references to race from national legislation, and French President François Hollande has asserted his belief that racial distinctions have no place in French society.

University of Oklahoma sociologist Loretta Bass calls this attitude toward racial issues the “Ostrich Policy.”