The Africa Initiative of Syracuse University is a University campus-wide project located in the Department of African American Studies in The College of Arts and Sciences. The purpose of the Initiative is to focus on Africa as an important site of knowledge by highlighting teaching, research and publication work by Syracuse University scholars representing a variety of disciplines including the arts, humanities, social & natural sciences, mathematics, engineering and others.
The Initiative aims at spearheading a revitalized interest in Africa, which has been on the wane in many institutions of higher learning since the end of the so-called “Cold War.” In this respect, it is important to note that Syracuse University once had a vibrant African Studies Program that no longer exists, although notable resources accumulated during its existence, such as the East African Collection at the Bird Library, remain. Moving forward from this history, the Africa Initiative of Syracuse University plans on building upon relevant aspects of this previous experience, while adopting fresh approaches and charting new directions as dictated by the present global affairs.
The Africa Initiative’s presence in the Department of African American Studies reinforces a critical site where the bulk of academic work on Africa at Syracuse University is done and where the Continent and the Caribbean are perceived as concomitant parts of the department’s Pan-Africanist vision. In bringing together Syracuse University scholars from various disciplines, the Africa Initiative aims at not only promoting interdisciplinary exchange, but also reinforcing the university’s ongoing effort to diversify and internationalize the educational experience of our students. In this regard, the Initiative places great emphasis on study-abroad programs in Africa, as well as the provision of financial resources to give students exposure to the Continent.
At The Africa Initiative of Syracuse University, we believe that such critical interventions, interactions and discourses will help alter the dominant perception of Africa as a continent ridden with perpetual crises and despair by providing an alternative vision and platform for constructive discourse on Africa and African peoples. Just as important, and in furthering this commitment, the Initiative offers a significant pool of experts specializing in various aspects of an extremely diverse and richly endowed continent.