African academics in the Diaspora to spend time in African Universities

African-born scholars living and working in American and Canadian universities are now able to apply for fellowships to undertake academic projects in African universities under a diaspora initiative supported by the Carnegie Corporation of New York.

Some 100 scholarships are up for grabs under the Carnegie African Diaspora Fellowship Program which will commence in June 2014 and will run for two years.

The aim is to transform the ‘brain drain’ that strips African universities of many of Africa’s finest minds into ‘brain circulation’, in which African academics in North America are encouraged to share their knowledge and expertise with their motherland.

Scholars will have the opportunity to work in a university for periods ranging from 14 to 90 days in areas including teaching, curriculum, research, and graduate training and mentoring.

“The fellows will engage in capacity building educational projects proposed and hosted by faculty at higher education institutions in six Carnegie partner countries in Sub-Saharan Africa,” the corporation said in a press statement. The countries are Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda.

Interested universities in the partner countries are also able to apply to host a scholar, and to design a project to be jointly undertaken with an academic in the diaspora. Both private and public universities are eligible to participate in the initiative.

The programme will be managed in the United States by the Institute of International Education, or IIE, in partnership with Quinnipiac University.

It was inspired by a report by historian Dr Paul Tiyambe Zeleza, the university’s vice-president for academic affairs, on the potential gains of engagements between Africans in the diaspora and African institutions.

The university will guide the programme, with an advisory committee made up of prominent African scholars setting its strategic direction. The initiative was developed in consultation with African institutions, especially the Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa, or CODESRIA.

Potential fellows and interested host universities should apply by 17 March, ahead of a May 2014 selection date, Carnegie said in the statement.

Institutions may name the scholars they want to work with, but if not, the IIE will maintain a roster that will enable diaspora scholars to be linked up with a university that matches their discipline, expertise, activities and objectives.

“The prospective African host institutions must submit the project request, but prospective fellows can collaborate with a host university to design a mutually beneficial project. An institution may, but is not required to, name a proposed scholar in a project request.”

Multifaceted and innovative projects that are in tune with the internationalisation of higher education are encouraged and will be prioritised, the statement added.

While host universities will be required to meet a fellow’s upkeep and costs of in-country transport, the programme will provide daily stipends, health insurance cover, visa fees and air tickets.

The initiative aims to facilitate equitable, effective and mutually beneficial partnerships between African scholars and their diaspora counterparts.

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