IU Global coordinated a visit to Ghana last spring to foster new partnerships and explore avenues for collaboration in Africa – a key priority of IU’s global engagement strategy. The delegation, led by Interim Vice President for International Affairs and Associate Vice Chancellor for International Affairs Hilary Kahn, built on decades-long engagement between IU and academic institutions and organizations in Ghana.
The strength of existing connections with Ghana became apparent as IU Global met with IU faculty and staff to determine the landscape of relationships with academic institutions, alumni, and organizations in Ghana on which the IU delegation could advance engagement and mutually beneficial collaborations. The trip then encompassed a comprehensive exploration of current, past, and potential new relationships across various disciplines, with a strategic focus on addressing societal, technological, and environmental challenges and collectively advancing shared institutional priorities.
IU’s history and interest in Africa is reflected in its many education abroad programs based in Africa, with nearly 100 IU students studying in sub-Saharan Africa in Summer 2023, and all but three participating in an IU-led program. Three programs were traveling to Ghana at the same time as the IU Global team including an IU Bloomington Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion program, IUPUI Liberal Arts, DEI, and Undergraduate Education , and Luddy School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering. In addition to meeting with Ghanaian institutions and faculty, the IU Global delegation was able to meet with students currently abroad, witnessing the impact of the programs’ experiential learning outcomes and their exemplary models for fostering global understanding in IU students.
The delegation spent two days at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) in Kumasi, Ghana, where conversations spanned KNUST’s outstanding school of optometry and their interests in public health, sustainability, African studies, and virtual global learning. Both institutions recognized the potential for joint efforts in research and academic programs related to sustainable urbanization, climate change, environmental science, poverty reduction, and architecture and interior design. KNUST’s investment in online classroom capabilities also opens doors for innovative teaching and learning collaborations, including virtual collaborative classes and experiential learning initiatives that give IU students the opportunity to engage with KNUST students and experience first-hand diverse academic perspectives without leaving Indiana.
Further, the delegation visited the University of Ghana (UG), a leading public university in Accra that has been a long-standing partner of IU. The discussions with UG’s Vice Chancellor and faculty members revolved around strengthening the existing partnership between the universities, with a focus on research collaboration, faculty and student exchanges, and joint initiatives in artificial intelligence, climate change, environmental and health sciences, data science, development policy, and African languages and cultures, among other areas of interest. The visit emphasized the potential for nurturing connections with a new generation of scholars and facilitating virtual exchanges.
The Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences (GAAS), renowned for promoting academic excellence and informing policy, also played a pivotal role in the visit. The IU delegation explored opportunities for collaboration on initiatives including research and policy advising on sustainable cities, shared interests in science technology, and knowledge sharing with GAAS’s international constituents.
The visit also included meetings with the University of Cape Coast, where discussions centered around potential collaborations in education studies, including disability studies, language and art education, educational technology, and public health, to name a few areas of potential collaboration. The IU representatives also explored possibilities for student and faculty exchanges, enriching the educational experiences and global perspectives of both institutions.
Additionally, IU’s visit encompassed fruitful discussions with Ashesi University, the Ghana Center for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana) the Afrobarometer public research and survey network, African Research Universities Alliance (ARUA), Global Mamas, and the Kufour Foundation. These engagements highlighted the university’s commitment to engaging with organizations dedicated to democratic consolidation, good governance, data-driven solutions, and socioeconomic research, allowing IU to contribute its expertise and collaborate on impactful initiatives.
Reflecting on the experience, Kahn expressed her enthusiasm for the future of IU’s global engagement and its potential to shape the next generation of ethical leaders.
There are a lot of possibilities that build on the decades of collaboration across institutional development, study abroad, and research. It was a joy to be able to meet in-person with students studying abroad, faculty partners, and alumni.Hilary Kahn, IU interim vice president for international affairs
Among the esteemed alumni is former minister of state in charge of tertiary education and pro-vice chancellor of the University of Ghana, Kwesi Yankah, whose doctorate in the ethnography of communication set the foundation for his long career strengthening academic institutions within his home country. Kahn was also able to reconnect with scholar and advocate Takyiwaa Manuh, PhD of Anthropology, Indiana University class of 2000, who last visited IU in 2018. Together, the two alumni have been powerful voices in the West African nation. Kahn hopes to engage more with them and to bring them back to the Bloomington campus as a part of the continued collaboration resulting from this visit.
With official IUAA Alumni Chapters in Ghana, Kenya, and South Africa, alumni play a vital role as a secondary audience in IU’s global endeavors. Hoping to capitalize on this momentum, Kahn plans to host a town hall meeting on October 2 to gather input and share experiences with the broader IU community. She aims to make Africa a priority during her interim year by continuing to explore collaborations and forging strategic partnerships that transcend borders and disciplines, enabling collaborative solutions to global challenges in Africa and beyond.
IU Global Connections: Ghana on October 2, 2023 from 12-1 p.m. (Zoom)