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African democracy training program

For the past 10 years, the Les Aspin Center has sponsored training programs in democracy principles and practice for community leaders from Kenya, Ghana, Uganda, Mali, Nigeria and Tanzania. The training program began in 1996 with funding from the United States Agency for International Development and has been extended since then.

The Democracy Training Program involves six weeks of lectures and discussions in a seminar setting, and participants participate in site visits to experience and learn about democracy and the public policy process.

Generally, the training starts with a one-week orientation seminar in the participants' own countries. The next five weeks are conducted at the Les Aspin Center in Washington, D.C., and at Marquette in Milwaukee, Wis. In Washington, the participants, academic professionals, congressional representatives and staff, and officials from non-governmental organizations discuss the American democratic process. In Wisconsin, the participants attend lectures by Marquette faculty and staff, state legislators, and church and media officials. The participants also visit local government facilities and engage in dialogue about local government issues with Wisconsin state and Milwaukee county government representatives.

The presenters and participants discuss, compare, and critique the American and African political institutions and how these operate to produce and implement effective public policy.

The entire seminar experience enables participants to understand and synthesize key insights that can be integrated into their country experience, which help them identify what is relevant for promoting effective democratic participation in their countries.

Recently, the Les Aspin Center expanded its Africa programming to include an exchange program with the Republic of Liberia sponsored by the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

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