Support the African Studies Center

Please consider making a contribution to the African Studies Center. Your help will enable us to expand our outreach capacity and activities, offer funds for faculty and student research and training, and enhance area study and language training at the U-M. There are four areas in which we seek financial backing:  

First, the African Presidential Scholars Program (UMAPS) brings early career faculty members from Ghana, South Africa, Liberia, and Uganda to the University of Michigan for residencies lasting up to six months. The program addresses head-on what the Chronicle of Higher Education has identified as the current “crisis” in African higher education: namely, chronically under-funded universities with a shortage of PhD-holding faculty who are unable, for lack of resources, to train new cohorts of PhD scholars. The program goals are twofold: (1) to help integrate the next generation of African scholars into international academic networks and support the attainment of their doctoral degrees, thereby helping their home institutions build capacity, and (2) to promote greater internationalization of U-M by bringing talented Africa-based faculty to our campus to collaborate in research, scholarship and teaching. The UMAPS program aims to help retain and strengthen faculty in African institutions of higher education while simultaneously enriching U-M through the inclusion of African perspectives... a win-win scenario.

Second, the African Heritage Initiative (AHI) advances the critical study of heritage work in Africa. At the intersection of business, politics, and history, “African heritage” is being reconfigured and marshaled as a resource to be celebrated, commoditized, and deployed by corporations, by governments, and by commoners eager to gain revenue and political leverage. The African Heritage Initiative brings together scholars from Ghana, South Africa and U-M to query the many assumptions circulating about “heritage” and uses to which it is put. A long-term goal is to build a graduate program triangulated between U-M and our South African and Ghanaian partners (with the future option to expand into other regions of Africa), and to deepen our intellectual engagement with the vast domain of African heritage through research projects with African colleagues already deeply engaged in these issues.

Third, the African Social Research Initiative (ASRI) works to expand African social scientists’ capacity to utilize quantitative data. African researchers and policy-makers are trapped: they must reluctantly depend on international consultants and institutions to (1) collect statistical data on demographic, governance, health, education, social and economic concerns, (2) analyze this data, and (3) issue policy recommendations on how to address and overcome problems. African policy-makers cannot be expected to create sustainable programs without accurately knowing whom they seek to benefit and how those benefits can best be realized. The ASRI initiative seeks to expand the famed U-M Institute for Social Research training programs in survey data collection and analysis to Africa. Following on the success of a 12-year-long short course in statistical analysis in Cape Town, South Africa, U-M and South African faculty piloted a second short course in Cape Coast, Ghana in 2011. The chief object of the African Social Research Initiative is making knowledge accessible in order to enable better, more informed decisions.

And fourth, the STEM-Africa Initiative is unique in its engagement of science as a trans-Atlantic affair. When academics and policy makers think of "African studies," the default position is often to focus exclusively on African history, culture, language and arts. The natural or "hard" sciences are thought to lie beyond the mandate of African studies. Yet science thrives in Africa. In a continent unparalleled in its biodiversity, featuring more endemic species of flora and fauna than any other, and where the stakes of human/wildlife interactions are critical due to large predator populations, science is a life and death reality. Understanding particle physics, harnessing solar and wind power, engineering solutions to persistent water scarcity, and developing mathematical models for averting health crises are all concerns that drive African STEM scholars in their pursuit of innovation. STEM-Africa seeks to nurture emerging scholars on the continent and advance research collaborations in STEM disciplines between the U-M and partnering institutions in Africa.

The ASC seeks an endowment to support the continuation of the U-M African Presidential Scholars Program, as well as funding to advance the exciting collaborations of our African Heritage, African Social Research, and STEM-Africa initiatives. We hope that you will contribute generously to our effort to build the Center’s financial security by sending your pledge or gift today. Please return with your check to: African Studies Center, The University of Michigan, 1080 South University Ave., Suite 3603, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1106. You can also make donations directly through the ‘Giving’ section of our website, at www.ii.umich.edu/asc. All donations to ASC are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law and will be counted as part of the University of Michigan Capital Campaign. Thank you for your support.