African Studies Center to mark 15 years with symposium


The African Studies Center at the University of Michigan is celebrating its 15th anniversary with a conference titled “Higher Education in the 21st Century: Keys to U.S.-Africa Partnership.”

The event, scheduled for April 5-6, aims to showcase the collaborations and partnerships between U-M and Africa through education and research.

The two-day conference features opening remarks by President Santa J. Ono and keynote speeches from U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Mich., and Mary Catherine Phee, U.S. assistant secretary of state for African affairs.

Other speakers include Adedolapo Fasawe, mandate secretary for health and environment, Nigeria’s National Capital; Sarah Mosoetsa, CEO of South Africa Higher Education and the Human Sciences Research Council; and Judd B. Devermont, operating partner at Kupanda Capital and former special assistant to President Joe Biden.

The conference brings together ASC’s community of researchers through six expert-led panel discussions. The first three panels will feature the impact and progress of the following initiatives: the African Social Research Initiative, STEM-Africa, and the African Heritage and Humanities Initiative.

The fourth panel features U-M African Presidential Scholars Program alumni from across West, East and Southern Africa, as well as their achievements, which reflect the program’s success in fostering exchange and academic growth.

The state of higher education in Africa is the feature for the fifth panel and will bring together policymakers and practitioners to assess and discuss contemporary challenges and opportunities.

Complementing the scholarly discussions, the sixth panel — organized by students — will focus on first-hand experiences of higher education in the 21st century.

The African Graduate Students Association, the African Student Association, and the Africa Business Club at the Stephen M. Ross School of Business are collaborating to curate student poster presentations, showcasing their work and research in and on Africa. These presentations not only represent the student voice but also the outcomes of the ASC’s continued support for undergraduate graduate research ventures in Africa.

“The last 15 years have been remarkable in U-M’s partnership with Africa and African institutions for higher education,” ASC Director Omolade Adunbi said. “We have collectively achieved several giant strides in ways unimaginable. U-M’s presence on the continent and Africa’s visibility at Michigan have increased exponentially in ways that deepened our diversity and inclusivity.

“Looking into the future, it is our expectation that U-M’s partnership with Africa will continue to be a shining example for collaborative engagement in the United States and beyond.”

This conference signifies ASC’s commitment to fostering and deepening partnerships and collaborative efforts between U-M and Africa, highlighting the ongoing dedication to interdisciplinary research, the cultivation of educational leadership and the exchange of knowledge.


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