VANCOUVER, Wash. — Since the September 11 attacks, Americans have been struck by the importance of a part of the world they know little about. The stakes are high. The central and south Asia region includes hundreds of ethnic groups, four nuclear weapons states and a history of intense conflict. Washington State University Vancouver plans a forum Dec. 6 titled “Afghanistan and Its Neighbors: Understanding the Region,” that will discuss the political, social and cultural complexities of Central and South Asia.

The forum is set for 7 p.m. in the Student Services lecture hall and is free and open to the public. Featured speakers include Anita Weiss and Lynn Renken.

Weiss is a professor of international studies at University of Oregon. She is an expert on Pakistan and South Asia and was conducting research in Pakistan on September 11. Her most recent book, “Power and Civil Society in Pakistan,” links politics and culture in the world’s sixth largest nation and only Islamic nuclear state. Renken is the program director for Mercy Corps, a poverty relief organization based in Portland, Ore. As the director of Mercy Corps’ ongoing project in Afghanistan, she will explain the dynamics of Afghani people and politics before, during and after U.S. military operations there.

Members of the WSU Vancouver faculty will also comment on current events from the perspective of the other nuclear powers in the region, India, China and Russia. There will be time for questions from the audience. This forum is sponsored by the WSU Vancouver programs in public affairs with support from the WSU Vancouver Diversity Task Force.

For more information, call 360/546-9640.