Harvard in West Africa (A PIFIE-Funded Project)

Through a three-year grant from the President’s Innovation Fund for International Education (2015-2017), the Harvard in West Africa Project seeks to expand Harvard’s presence in Ghana and Senegal, two countries in West Africa where Harvard Summer Programs exist. The Ghana Program has existed since 2008, and Emmanuel Akyeampong (History and AAAS) and Benjamin Kankpeyeng (Archaeology, University of Ghana) offer a course on “Representing Ghana’s Pasts: Slave Trades, the African Diaspora, and Slave Roots Tourism. Ousmane Kane (Harvard Divinity School) leads the Senegal program and offers a course on “Belief, Culture and Society in Francophone Africa.” These programs will be offered in alternative years (Senegal, 2015; Ghana, 2016; and so on). The University of Ghana hosts the Harvard Ghana program, and the West African Research Council (WARC) hosts the Senegalese one.

In response to student interest in learning a West African language while enrolled in the summer program, introductory courses for Wolof/Pulaar and Twi will be offered in tandem with the summer courses in Senegal and Ghana respectively. Students do not have to pay for language instruction, which will be covered by the PIFIE award, but those who enroll will receive Harvard credit. Harvard’s African Languages Program structures and supervises these language courses. Students on return to Harvard can continue instruction in these languages at the intermediate level.

The International Institute for the Advanced Study of Cultures, Institutions, and Economic Enterprise (IIAS) at the University of Ghana in Accra (www.interias.org.gh) and the West African Research Council (www.warccroa.org.) in Dakar will provide office support to Harvard students and faculty visiting these countries. These centers can arrange for students and faculty to be met at the airport; arrange accommodation; place students who have funding in internship positions; put students in touch with local scholars who work in the fields of interest; and pair students conducting research with a faculty mentor if desired.

Objectives of the Harvard in West Africa Project

  1. Offer in alternate years Harvard summer programs in Ghana and Senegal.
  2. Arrange for language instruction through Harvard’s African Languages Program as a complement to the Harvard summer programs. Students who desire advanced language instruction through FLAS can also utilize these language arrangements.
  3. Offer faculty and students local institutional support in Ghana and Senegal through two institutions, IIAS in Accra and WARC in Dakar.
  4. Place students who have their own funds in internship positions.
  5. Pair research students with a faculty mentor if needed.

Faculty and students who would like to avail themselves of these opportunities should contact: Emmanuel Akyeampong (akyeamp@fas.harvard.edu) and/or Ousmane Kane (okane@hds.harvard.edu).

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