The Council partnered with the geography department of Grand Rapids Community College to present an interesting talk about the separatists referendums in New Caledonia, a collection of islands 750 miles east of Australia and under the rule of France since 1853.
Dr. Cadey Korson, a graduate of both Grand Rapids Community College and Aquinas College locally, presented on the issues surrounding the separatist movement in an event sponsored by GRCC and the Council on December 6 at the college’s Sneden Hall. Korson now teaches at Massey University in New Zealand.
In recent years, the citizens of the islands have been in conversation with the French government over independent governance and the first of three scheduled referendum votes was taken earlier this year. The results were 56.4% against and 43.6% in favor. The next votes will be taken in 2020 and 2022. Following the 2022 vote, the issue will be considered settled—as per a negotiated agreement.
Korson noted the various forces bearing on “islandian sovereignty” and how these differ from separatist movements on mainland continents. She also compared the voting totals of native islanders from those of other countries who have settled on the islands over past decades.
This collaboration with GRCC was made possible through the efforts of geography professor Mike De Vivo, a member of the Council’s “Great Decisions” planning committee. GRCC is one of 11 colleges and universities with a formal connection to the Council in its global awareness programming.