Penn's 4-College Consortium in African Studies

Penn's 4-College Consortium in African Studies



A four-college consortium has been created at Penn, Bryn Mawr, Haverford, and Swarthmore to establish an African Studies Undergraduate National Resource Center. The consortium was inaugurated at an all-day "African Studies Workshop" on Friday, November 5. The program involved faculty and students from the four consortium schools as well as other universities and colleges in the Philadelphia region. A $520,000 Title VI grant from the U.S. Department of Education will enable the four institutions to make use of each other's resources in developing a national center for the teaching of African languages and African area studies. The amount will be matched by the four institutions. "This is an extraordinary opportunity to use the resources of four outstanding institutions to contribute something of value to international education," said Dr. Sandra Barnes, director of the new Resource Center and professor of anthropology. "It is particularly important to the study of Africa, which is often marginalized in American perceptions of the rest of the world." The grant will help combine the many Afri-canist resources at Penn with the strong traditions of international study and well- developed African research connections and internship opportunities for students developed by Bryn Mawr, Haverford, and Swarthmore. The Resource Center is another in a series of cooperative programs among the four institutions that link their library systems and allows the students to take courses at each other's institutions with no additional expense, Dr. Barnes said. During the past six years, faculty members at the University of Pennsylvania have created an African Studies Program involving graduate and undergraduate students. This includes the introduction of an African language-teaching program within the Penn Language Center, an African Studies major and minor within the Arts and Sciences curriculum, and an expanded range of interdisciplinary courses and events focused on Africa. A new program in Africana Studies was also inaugurated at Bryn Mawr and Haverford in 1991. A significant African component has been added to the Swarthmore curriculum through its programs in Black Studies and International Relations and Public Policy. Instruction in African Studies at the four schools currently involves 44 faculty members who are experts on all regions of the continent. The faculty are involved in extensive and ongoing research and publishing projects centered on Africa. They teach a total of 118 courses that are offered in 18 departments and professional schools. Penn already has three such centers: South Asia, Middle East, and Eastern Europe. The Africa Center is therefore a major addition to Penn's international dimension. The new grant will help the consortium colleges:

* train students in African languages and African regional studies; * strengthen African holdings in the four libraries; * expand in community outreach activities that focus on sub-Saharan Africa; * expand course offerings on African topics; * expose more students to Africa through study, work and internships abroad; * expand the African presence on the four campuses through visiting scholars and international students; and * provide faculty with opportunities to enhance their research and experience in African countries, and to develop the African course offerings at each institution.

Penn has a lengthy involvement with Africa, which began with the founding in 1887 of what is now the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. The Museum came to emphasize ethnographic research and the building of study collections. In 1942 came Penn's African Studies Program, offering language instruction in Ethiopic, Hausa, and Swahili. Two prominent students of the period, Nnamdi Azkiwc and Kwame Nkru-mah, received master's degrees on African topics and went on to become major political figures in West African independence. For additional information on the grant, contact Dr. Sandra Barnes, (215) 898-8969, or Dr. Tom Callaghy, political science, (215) 898-6324.

Editor: Ali B. Ali-Dinar
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