October 2, 2018

Goucher Receives Grant for African Studies

As part of a $88,190 grant, Goucher professors and local teachers will immerse themselves as students in two African states in the summer of 2019 and return to their classrooms with experiential and firsthand knowledge. 

This is the first time Goucher has earned the Fulbright-Hays—Group Projects Abroad Program grant, which is issued through the U.S. Department of Education. Six Goucher professors, two Goucher staff members, and six K-12 teachers and administrators from Baltimore City schools are included in this intense, four-week immersion in Rwanda and Mauritius, a small African island in the Indian Ocean.

As part of the grant proposal, “Bringing African Studies into the Curriculum: A Multilayered Approach,” the program participants will convene at two symposium events on Goucher’s campus. Additionally, a virtual toolkit with syllabi, lesson plans, and supporting information will be available to the public.

“The idea for the grant started from a recognition that creating a more diverse curriculum requires an investment in the faculty,” said Eric Singer, associate provost for external programs and project director for the grant.

The grant is an offshoot of the African Leadership University study abroad partnership with Goucher, Singer said. ALU has agreed to host the grant participants on its campuses in both Rwanda and Mauritius, although learning will take place outside of the classroom, too.

Each day will be split between morning lectures from local experts  and afternoons filled with site visits in Mauritius and Rwanda. Grant participants will explore digital hubs and export processing zones, tour museums, walk through markets, and visit local schools, which is particularly for the benefit of the K-12 school teachers, Singer said.

“Having those firsthand experiences allows faculty to craft a course and the curriculum around those topics in more than a theoretical or abstract way,” Singer said.

Although faculty participants have not yet been selected, they will come from many disciplines across campus, Singer said. The goal is to increase both faculty and student knowledge of African societies by integrating an Afro-centric curriculum in a variety of majors and minors where there might be a lack of coverage.

The educators will examine cultural differences between Mauritius, Rwanda, and the U.S.; ways in which Rwanda is attempting to become the Silicon Valley of Africa; and how African societies have attempted to forge their place in the international community, Singer said. 

He added, “By bringing these perspectives and then synthesizing them into the curriculum, our students will begin to see the vitality of the African continent in all of its complexity and differences so they can better understand its dynamism.”