In seeking to enhance the African presence in the life of the liberal arts campus community, the Africa Network is not aiming to foster major new programs in African studies. The organization’s goals are, at once, more modest and more imaginative. Through a variety of special initiatives, the Africa Network intends to foster an informed awareness of Africa in both the curricular and co-curricular programs of the participating institutions. The independent liberal arts colleges, with their strong traditions of thoughtful teaching, co-curricular programming, and residential life, offer an ideal setting for the Africa Network initiatives. The Africa Network will initially sponsor two key programs:
- The annual meeting where the focus will be on creative teaching and the study of Africa in the liberal arts context. Other concerns will include faculty and student research, study abroad, language studies, grants and resource development, and inter-institutional cooperation.
- An inter-institutional consultancy program that will enable member institutions to visit one another’s campuses and to connect the expertise in one institution with the developmental needs and aspirations of another. For example, an Africanist at a member institution who is seeking a more substantial role for Africa in the general education program could apply to bring to the campus an Africanist from a member institution with an exemplary general education program. This program, building on the creative energy and good will found at the annual meetings, will foster new levels of understanding, common purpose and cooperation.
Future Program Possibilities
- A Faculty Development Initiative that will offer the participating institutions the opportunity to send one or two faculty members to an NEH-style Africa Seminar. The Africa Seminar, held over a two summer period, will provide liberal arts faculty, with little or no background in African studies, a foundation for curriculum development and for fresh possibilities in their scholarly and creative work. In the first summer, the faculty participants will be in residence for approximately four to six weeks at an institution with strong resources in African studies. In the second summer, the seminar members will spend one to two months in African, ordinarily in association with a cooperating African university. Through this program, liberal arts colleges will be able to create and/or multiply their resources for including African perspectives in the curriculum and the wider intellectual life of the campus.
- An African Studies Initiative that will bring a variety of African artists, scholars, and political leaders to the campuses of the participating colleges. The perspectives project is a co-curricular enrichment program that will ordinarily provide one or two special events each term. The visiting artists, scholars, and political leaders would be on campus for one to three days, presenting a major campus-wide program and meeting, as desired, with diverse campus constituencies, some individual classes, and local and regional media. Through this program, the entire campus community will be challenged at least two to four times a year to discover diverse dimensions of African history, culture, and contemporary issues.
- An African Student Fellowship Program that will provide tuition assistance to African students admitted to Africa Network institutions. Each of the participating institutions will be asked to provide a one half tuition (or greater) scholarship to two African students each year. (In the fourth year of the program, this will mean eight active scholarships.) The Africa Network will seek funds to match the commitment of the participating institutions and to provide partial assistance to the African students in meeting their expenses for board, room, books, and travel.
- A Student Exchange and Service Learning Project that will enable North American students to study and to pursue service assignments in cooperation with an allied African university. The Africa Network member institutions will be assisted in selecting a sister campus in Africa. The sister campus partnerships linking Africa Network members and African universities may also foster the development of student and faculty exchange programs and a wide variety of additional cooperative activities.