CSU Leading New USG African Studies Consortium

Columbus State University, Georgia Southern University and the University of Georgia are leading a new, University System of Georgia African studies consortium. The consortium, to be developed over the next three years, will reinforce CSU's newly-established Certificate of African Studies Program.

CSU will formally launch its new African studies program Thursday (9/16) with a keynote speech by visiting scholar Ali Mazrui (12:30 p.m., Davidson Center Auditorium) followed by a key-to-the-city presentation by Columbus Mayor Robert Poydasheff to Mazrui (2 p.m., Davidson Center Columbus Room).

'The USG consortium will offer a large array of courses online for students enrolled at any university within the system,' said CSU sociology professor Florence Wakoko-Studstill who is directing CSU's role in the consortium

Funded by a $364,818 U.S. Department of Education grant, faculty at CSU, GSU and UGA are designing a sustainable African studies curriculum to serve all other established or emerging USG African studies programs (collectively named the Africa Council).

In addition to USG-enrolled traditional students, consortium courses will target individuals working in various professions including public school teachers who wish to enhance their skills in teaching about Africa, Wakoko said.

The initial CSU-based courses for the consortium are scheduled to be offered this spring, including a Swahili language course. Swahili is a widely spoken language in eastern and southern Africa. Potential, additional language courses include Yoruba (a first language of 30-40 million people in western Africa) and Zulu, spoken by about 25 percent of South Africans.

Also planned for spring 2005 in the consortium: 'African Women and Development,' to be taught by Wakoko, and 'African Educational Development,' to be taught by anthropology professor John Studstill, who directs the CSU certificate program.

Preparations for these courses include the training of a graduate teaching assistant, Dorothy Cheruiyot, a CSU graduate student and native of Kenya. Also, a USG-wide faculty development workshop will be held Oct. 15-16 at UGA, and competitive scholarships will be announced for faculty seeking to integrate African content in their curriculum.

Wakoko, a Uganda native, said the consortium's mission parallels the CSU Strategic Plan provision to 'advance the international aspects of teaching, research, public service and outreach missions and to enrich the learning environment of students.'

Wakoko credits colleagues at CSU for helping secure the consortium grant. 'I would be wrong if I did not mention that the consortium grant owes its success to Dr. Mary Schild, chair of the Department of Psychology & Sociology, Dr. Neal McCrillis, the director of the Center for International Education, and Dr. George Stanton, dean of the College of Science, for their expertise and prompt support,' she said.

Wakoko said the benefits of establishing the consortium will be immediate and broad 'given the existing structural and international resources at CSU and other collaborating institutions.'

CSU's certificate program, beginning this fall, includes courses in history, sociology, anthropology literature, business and ecology leading to an 18-credit hour-approved certificate. 'The certificate will enable participating graduates to compete favorably for careers in national and international professions,' Wakoko said.

In addition to Wakoko and Studstill, other CSU faculty members teaching certificate-applicable courses include language professor Jackie Konan and history professor Joel Tishken. Economics professor Maurice Shalishali includes an African perspective in his international business class; and, Wakoko identified other Africanist scholars at CSU whose efforts in Africa-related research 'will add a strong dimension to the program,' including professors Paulina Kuforiji (education), Julie Ballenger and John Davis (biology), and Zewdu Gebeyehu and Abiye Seifu (chemistry).

Wakoko summarized the overall mission of the USG consortium and CSU certificate program as 'enhancing the teaching of courses focused on African content, the initiation of new courses and revision of existing courses and collaboration in research opportunities in and about Africa.' More specific, long-range objectives, she added, include a 'sister university' relationship between CSU and a campus in Africa for student and faculty exchange.

For more information on African studies at CSU, contact John Studstill or Florence Wakoko-Studstill at 568-2116 or visit online at http://cie.colstate.edu/africanstudies.htm