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By Terry Tavita

APIA, Samoa (September 2, 2002 - Samoa Observer/PINA Nius Online)---Distinguished writers on Samoan-related disciplines are expected next week at the Samoan Studies Conference, to be hosted in Apia by the National University of Samoa.

The university's Institute of Samoan Studies head, Lau Dr. Asofou So‘o, said the primary objective of the conference is to "identify future research directions in Samoan studies."

"The high caliber presenters will be speaking on their specific disciplinary areas and, at the same time, will open up new potential frontiers for further research studies," said Dr. So‘o.

Papers to be presented will also be included in the first edition of the Journal of Samoan Studies, to be published by the National University of Samoa.

According to Dr. So‘o, the conference was initially planned as a minor gathering, as there is a Pacific History Association Conference in December.

"But the overwhelming support from overseas will make it a full-fledged three-day conference comprised of top level presentations by respective authorities on many areas of Samoan studies," he said.

The ultimate goal of these conferences and the accumulation of the research studies is "to develop the Institute of Samoan Studies here at NUS as the center of excellence in Samoan studies."

Another benefit of inviting distinguished Pacific writers to Samoa is that students can see for themselves the people whose works they are studying in person, instead of "just reading their work."

"We also want their experience to rub off on our junior lecturers or, even better, inspire our younger staff."

Though the conference will lean towards the social science disciplines there will also be substantial input from experts on science-related fields.

The lineup of academics confirmed to present papers includes such leaders as:

§ Emeritus University of the South Pacific Professor Ron Crocombe;

§ Dr. Guy Powles, of Australia's Monash University, who has written extensively on Pacific Law;

§ Professor Andrew Pawley, of the Australian National University, who is credited as a pioneer in the scientific study of the Samoan language;

§ Head of the School of Pacific and Asian Studies, Australian National University, Dr. Gerard Ward;

§ Head of the Department of Sociology at Auckland University, Dr. Cluny Macpherson;

§ Head of Pacific History Studies at the University of the South Pacific, Dr. Morgan Tuimaleali‘ifano;

§ Dr. Tia Seloti, of the American Samoa Community College Language Task Force.

§ Head of Academics at the Samoa Polytech, Dr. Emma Vaai;

§ Dr. Featuna¹i Liuä‘ana, of Malua Theological College; and

§ Noted Samoan historians Lëi‘atuaualesä Vaiao and Dr. Fay Ala‘ilima.

A public forum, hosted by selected panelists, will also be organized on the last day of the conference. There members of the public can ask questions or comment on the papers presented.

"We want to do away with the ivory tower mentality of universities as above public reach," said Dr. So‘o.

"The public is instrumental in the development of any university institution."

For additional reports from the Samoa Observer, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/Samoa Observer.

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