Denison University will host a lecture on the Somali people -- a topic that interests several professors and students on campus.

Denison University will host a lecture on the Somali people -- a topic that interests several professors and students on campus.

The lecture is being given by photographer Abdi Roble and writer Doug Rutledge, who recently published The Somali Diaspora: A Journey Away. The lecture is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. Monday, March 30, in Burton Morgan Lecture Hall, 150 Ridge Road.

"I'm interested in studying more about the Somali community, and a couple of my students are doing research projects in the Somali community this summer," said Anita Waters, a Denison professor of sociology, anthropology and black studies.

Their book details the journey of Somali refugees, escaping Civil War in their country. According to information from the book's Web site, Roble and Rutledge followed one Somali family from a refugee camp in Kenya to California and Maine, also documenting "the lives of Somali people in Columbus, Ohio, which is the second-largest Somali community in the United States."

Waters, who lives in Columbus, said she has been fascinated with their presence in her hometown.

"I think they've made Columbus a lot more interesting, and for that, I am grateful," she said. "I think it's interesting to see how that community functions and alleviates difficulties members face as immigrants and refugees."

Because of her interest, Waters invited some of her students to complete their young-scholar summer research projects, studying the Somali population.

Krista Slavicek, a Denison junior studying history with a minor in sociology-anthropology, will work on how welcome the Somali community has been in Columbus.

"I am researching the degree of acceptance that the larger Columbus community has for the Somali community, based on media sources such as newspapers, interviews with Somali organizations, public schools, the police department, etc.," Slavicek said. "I will divide my research into pre-9/11 (terrorist attacks) and post-9/11 findings and see if the degree of acceptance has declined since 9/11 due to the fact that the majority of Somali immigrants are Muslim."

Because Slavicek, a Dublin native, also lives in the Columbus area, she said, she hopes to get a greater understanding of the place the Somali community has in the larger Columbus community."

Her project has broader ramifications, though, she said.

"My project also has global implications since its theme relates to the growing trend of transnationalism -- the flow of peoples across national borders -- and the affect that has on the local population of where they choose to settle," she said.

Sophomore Sydney Camel, who is in Denison's black-studies program, will study health-care issues for the immigrants.

Waters said Denison does not have a large number of Somali people attending the university, but some students on campus are from that region of Africa. She said she expects the lecture to draw some student interest, but she mentioned that it also is free and open to the public.

The Goodspeed Lecture Fund, the college's black-studies program and the departments of sociology and anthropology, studio art and religion are sponsoring it.

lwince@thisweeknews.com