April 23, Washington University in St. Louis hosted the inaugural meeting of the university’s Africa initiative.
The Africa initiative was founded in 2018 to enhance the university’s impact on the continent through research, teaching and entrepreneurship. Benjamin Akande, assistant vice chancellor for international affairs-Africa, reported at the meeting that there are 128 faculty members engaged in 36 countries on the continent and that more than a hundred more faculty members are interested in participating in some way.
The university’s involvement in Africa is robust: its researchers are tackling public health issues there, including women’s health, infectious diseases and childhood nutrition. Human development is also a key outreach point: Mary McKay, the Neidorff Family and Centene Corporation Dean of the Brown School, leads the SMART Africa Center, a collaborative effort aimed at lessening gaps in child and teen mental health care in Ghana, Kenya and Uganda. Washington University also has a close relationship with McDonnell International Scholars Academy affiliate, the University of Ghana.
“Washington University is very established on the continent,” Akande said. “Some of these engagements go back 20 to 25 years, and they are spread across the university’s seven schools. There
is hugeopportunity and significant potential for Washington University moving forward. Additionally, we hope to identify and engage key partners and supporters for the Initiative in the United States and Africa.”