Delegation setting African foothold for new program

Researchers from The Africa Institute at Western are currently on the ground half a world away to establish a formal foothold for a new program that will help students “bring hope to the world.”

“More and more students are wanting something different – an opportunity to affect social change,” said Irena Creed, The Africa Institute director and a professor in the departments of Biology, Earth Sciences and Geography. “The passion among young people to change the world is more pervasive than ever. We want to create an inclusive, supportive and collaborative learning environment for students to pursue their passions.”

A specialty field within the Master’s in Management of Applied Science (MMASc), Global Health Systems in Africa will be a 12-month professional master’s program that combines communication, management and leadership skills with courses focused on global health, using case studies in Africa. Subject to final approval from university Senate, the program is expected to launch in September.

A delegation, including Creed, is travelling in Uganda until July 14 to establish a field school for the program.

Creed calls the program’s timing “special” as it coincides with the release of the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals. These 17 new goals, to be finalized in September, build upon the UN Millennium Development Goals established in 2000.

“This is the global agenda for the next 15 years, for how to make the world a better place,” she explains. “Our program aligns very well with this agenda.”

The focus on Africa builds on Western researcher’s existing strengths, including Gregor Reid’s work with probiotics and health; David Cechetto’s leadership in maternal and child health in Rwanda; Charlie Trick’s focus on ecosystem health in Kenya; Joanna Quinn’s research on transitional justice in Uganda; Henri Boyi’s work on history and aftermath of the genocide in Rwanda; Ian Colquhoun’s work in biodiversity and conservation in Madagascar; Sherrilene Classen’s work on traffic morbidity and mortality in South Africa; and Ernest Yanful’s work on waste management in Ghana.

“Africa faces significant challenges and has populations of individuals at great risk. If we take a place where challenges are severe, we can learn and apply the knowledge and skills elsewhere,” Creed said. “When you look at areas of great need, coupled with Western’s on-the-ground success, you have a remarkable alignment of opportunities to offer an exceptional student experience.”

Follow the delegation on its blog, African Experiences Abroad.