The Council for the Development of Social Science research in Africa (CODESRIA), is pleased to announce the launching of a new initiative aimed at strengthening relations between African academics in the diaspora and African universities. The initiative, called African Diaspora Support to African Universities, seeks to mobilize African academics in the diaspora to contribute to the strengthening of African universities, the nurturing of new generations of scholars in Africa in a culture of excellence, and the revitalization of the social sciences, higher education studies, and the humanities. The specific objectives of the initiative will include the strengthening of PhD programs and the curricula in the social sciences and the humanities (SSH); contribute to the filling of gaps and dealing with shortages in teaching; mentoring of young social science scholars in Africa, more generally; as well as in strengthening relations between African academics in the diaspora and the institutions where they are based and African universities.
The initiative derives from CODESRIA’s mandate as the leading pan African social science council of the continent and its responsibility to help address the problem of the shortage of qualified academic staff in many African universities both for teaching and for PhD supervision. This problem has worsened with the creation of hundreds of new public and private universities. The consequences of these shortages include the lack of capacity in most of the social science and humanities departments and schools in African universities to organize quality postgraduate programs and conduct research. In some instances, capacity for postgraduate supervision does not exist, and doctoral and masters students take longer to complete their programs due to a lack or shortage of qualified supervisors and mentors.
On the other hand, the existence of a large African academic diaspora has been documented in numerous studies. Many of these scholars are willing to lend a hand in the revitalization of universities in their home countries or elsewhere in Africa. Other highly qualified academics are circulating outside the universities, within Africa itself, and it would be important to have an initiative that taps into the knowledge and skills they have. Therefore, one effective way to address the shortage of qualified senior academic staff and PhD supervision capacity in African universities is to mobilize the academic diaspora to support universities in Africa. The initiative will do this through the following strategies:
Organizing the joint supervision of masters’ and doctoral students in the SSH;
Facilitating the review and further development of curricula in the SSH;
Organizing the sharing of course outlines and relevant literature, and the introduction of new teaching methods;
Enabling diaspora academics to take up short-term teaching engagements at African universities as part of their sabbaticals;
Establishing a College of Mentors to aid early career academics in African universities, including through joint research and publications
Enabling diaspora academics and senior African scholars to serve as external examiners in each other’s university departments
Enabling diaspora academics to serve as directors and resource persons in the various research and training networks that CODESRIA will undertake as part of the proposed initiative.
Organizing experience-sharing / training workshops for PhD advisors, as well as summer schools for advanced doctoral and post-doctoral students and early career academics.
Launching a scholar exchange program through which CODESRIA will facilitate the hosting of visiting African professors and guest researchers by diaspora academics, and the hosting of diaspora academics by African universities
The initiative will be organized around the following activities:
Visiting Professorships: diaspora academics will visit African universities for durations varying from 15 days of stay to 3 months; the African universities hosting them will provide accommodation, or help them rent apartments at reasonable rates.
Curriculum review and development
Sharing course modules and relevant literature
Mentoring and co-supervision of doctoral students (a College of Mentors)
Advanced workshops for PhD advisors based at African universities
Joint Research Projects on the African diaspora and diaspora linkages (including scoping studies, and a review of current policies and frameworks for the governance and management of the linkages between African institutions and the diaspora)
The Program is supported by the Carnegie Corporation of New York and by CODESRIA’s core funders. African universities that are interested in hosting African scholars in the diaspora, and in participating in the programme in other ways, and African scholars who are willing to contribute to the success of the initiative are invited to contact CODESRIA at the following address:
African Diaspora Support to African Universities
Avenue Cheikh Anta diop X canal IV