Africa Scholars Forum

Researchers Across Disciplines Develop Emerging African Studies Program - February 2021

"As many regions embrace global cooperation on initiatives to combat pressing problems such as climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic, UMass Boston’s deep capability in African studies provides a platform to participate."

The Africa Scholars Forum at the University of Massachusetts Boston is a university-wide academic platform for the teaching, research, and programming of Africa convened by an informal network of Africanists at UMass Boston.

The Africa Scholars Forum serves many functions, including building a more formal educational presence around African studies, providing a collaborative hub for work on Africa at UMass Boston, and facilitating among Africanist faculty shared resources and existing initiatives in African Studies in a convened, organized, institutional space.

African Studies at UMass Boston: an Historical Snapshot

Goals and Objectives

On May 30th, 2018 at the inaugural meeting of the Africa Scholars Forum steering committee. All committee members listed below agreed to work on the following initiatives:

  1. Develop an undergraduate minor and a graduate certificate in African Studies
  2. Establish a formal speaker series on African issues at UMass Boston
  3. Engage student groups on campus who have Africa programming missions, and create undergraduate student research initiatives on African study
  4. Establish a platform for deepened African research study for graduate students at UMass Boston
  5. Promote existing and new exchanges with area African Studies programs and universities in Africa to facilitate faculty and student exchange, especially study abroad and community research
  6. Achieve prestigious grant awards on African study collaboratively.

Faculty Committee Members by College and Department

McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies
Rita Kiki Edozie, Conflict Resolution, Human Security, and Global Governance
Maria Ivanova, Conflict Resolution, Human Security, and Global Governance
Darren Kew, Conflict Resolution, Human Security, and Global Governance
Jane L. Parpart, Conflict Resolution, Human Security, and Global Governance
Malcolm Russell-Einhorn, Conflict Resolution, Human Security, and Global Governance
Timothy Shaw, Conflict Resolution, Human Security, and Global Governance
Courtenay Sprague, Conflict Resolution, Human Security, and Global Governance
Stacy D. VanDeveer, Conflict Resolution, Human Security, and Global Governance

School for Global and Social Inclusion and Social Development
Sindiso Minsi Weeks, Global Inclusion and Social Development

College of Education and Human Development
Tyra Mendez, College of Education and Human Development
Angela K. Stone-MacDonald, College of Education and Human Development
Abiola Farinde-Wu, College of Education and Human Development

College of Liberal Arts
Nada Mustafa Ali, Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
Ping-Ann Addo, Anthropology
Chinelo Achebe Ejueyitchie, Africana Studies
Christopher Fung, Anthropology
Heidi Gengenbach, History
Jemadari Kamara, Africana Studies
Adugna Lemi, Economics
Aminah Pilgrim, Africana Studies
Jean L. Rene, Africana Studies
Kibibi Mack-Shelton, Africana Studies
Anthony Van Der Meer, Africana Studies
Quito Swan, Africana Studies

College of Management
Josephine Namayanja, Management Science and Information Systems

College of Nursing and Health Sciences
Carrie Ann Gakumo, College of Nursing and Health Sciences
Phil Nyakauru Gona, Exercise and Health Sciences

Non-Academic Units
Charlie Titus, Division of Athletics, Recreation, Special Projects and Programs

Program Assistant
Nyingilanyeofori Hannah Brown

Senior Program Assistant
Gifty P Debordes-Jackson

Members Initiative

The faculty and staff members of the ASF are dedicated to advancing research, study, and programming of Africa and the African diaspora through diverse platforms and projects. See some of our member initiatives below:

Rita Kiki EdozieRita Kiki Edozie, founder and chair of the Africa Scholars Forum at UMB, served as the Local Arrangements Committee co-chair for the African Studies Association (ASA) 62nd Annual Meeting. ASA is the world's leading international association of scholars and professionals focusing on the study of Africa. The ASA Annual Meeting is the largest gathering of Africanist scholars in the world in attendance of about 2,000 scholars and professionals. Professor Edozie's 8th book project is discussed here.

Malcolm Russell-EinhornMalcolm Russell-Einhorn, Strengthening Rwandan Administrative Justice (SRAJ) is a Center for Peace, Democracy, and Development project that aims to improve the quality, consistency, legality, and transparency of decision-making by Rwandan district authorities in administrative cases that involve thousands of citizens and businesses.

Adugna LemiAdugna Lemi is the director of the African Economic Research Consortium (AERC), a Kenya-based, capacity-building organization that also provides a training program. The AERC Training Program is designed to augment the pool of economic researchers in sub-Saharan Africa by supporting postgraduate studies in Economics and Agricultural Economics and by enhancing the capacities of departments of Economics and departments of Agricultural Economics/Agribusiness in local public universities.

Heidi GengenbachHeidi Gengenbach, Assessing the New Green Revolution for Africa: The Impact of a Value Chain Approach on Women Farmers and Household Food Security is a collaborative, interdisciplinary, multi-country project. Gengenbach is leading the Mozambique case study, which is investigating the nutritional consequences of women farmers' participation in an ongoing donor-funded program to commercialize cassava production.

Maria IvanovaMaria Ivanova, The Center for Governance and Sustainability, is home to Regional Environmental Diplomacy Institute (REDI), which is an experiential environmental governance teaching program that is designed to enhance the knowledge and skills of negotiators, policymakers, and students. REDI has so far focused on supporting the Horn of Africa, a region that is particularly vulnerable to climate change. A cohort of PhD students recently visited the region as part of their coursework. View Part I and Part II of a video describing the project.

Charlie Titus and Jemadari KamaraCharlie Titus and Jemadari Kamara, Youth Education and Sports with Africa (YES) is a multiethnic, coeducational, sports and leadership development program administered in conjunction with partner organizations in West Africa by the Division of Athletics and Recreation, Special Projects and Programs and the Department of Africana Studies. The program affords young athletes and coaches in West Africa the opportunity to participate in basketball clinics.

Darren KewDarren Kew directs the Center for Peace, Democracy, and Development which investigates and addresses some of the most challenging human security concerns worldwide, including in Nigeria, Rwanda, and South Africa. Through four key areas of work—Peace building and Conflict Resolution, Democratic Development, Global Health and Development, and Law and Justice System Reform.

Nada Mustafa AliNada Mustapha Ali, Dr. Ali is researching Gender, Militarization, and peace-building in Sudan and South Sudan; She directs The Human Rights Minor at UMass Boston, an interdisciplinary program of study open to students from all disciplines. Housed in the Department of Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, the minor emerged from the student-faculty-community collaboration of the Human Rights Working Group.

Quito SwanQuito Swan directs the William Monroe Trotter Institute for the Study of Black Culture, which addresses the concerns and social justice of the Black community in Massachusetts. It is the home of the policy brief series Resilience, and the journal The Trotter Review, which provides intellectual information on the challenges and opportunities facing Blacks in the Greater Boston Area. The institute seeks to inform and address racial disparities, as well as support the socio-economic resilience of Black communities in Massachusetts.


Special Program

Fatima Kyari Mohammed Portrait

The Fatima Kyari Mohammed scholarship program was inspired by African Union (AU) permanent observer to the United Nations (UN), Ambassador Fatima Kyari Mohammed’s generous donation of her honorarium for her keynote address at the Africa Day 2020 and the matching support from the McCormack graduate school’s Africa Scholars Forum (ASF). The scholarship provides $1000 in funds to a Master’s or Doctoral student whose capstone project, thesis, or dissertation engages an African issue. Given travel limitations presented by this year’s COVID-19 global pandemic; next year, the scholarship will hopefully include an internship opportunity for the recipient of the award at one of the African Union’s permanent representational offices around the globe (including Addis Ababa, Geneva, Cairo, Brussels, Lilongwe, Washington DC, and New York City). The scholarship has been established by the ASF to promote the research and scholarship of critical issues in the African continent among graduate students at UMass Boston.


Past Events

The Africa Scholars Forum hosts various events throughout the academic year to bring together scholars and community members in Massachusetts. These events include talks showcasing scholarly and community research on African politics, economics, policy, development issues as well as on literature and the arts. Some of the recurring events hosted by the forum include the annual Africa Day, Ubuntu graduation and recognition ceremony, the Amilcar Cabral speaker series, and annual Kwanzaa end of year.

Welcome and Business Meeting 2020  - October 16, 2020

ASF Business Meeting 2020

The Fall 2020 Welcome and Business Meeting features guest speaker, E. Edna Wangui, PhD, Associate Professor, Ohio University College of Arts & Sciences. Professor Wangui’s research examines the gendered dimensions of rural development and rural livelihood change, environmental conservation, and climate change adaptation. She has focused on identifying the nature and root causes of land use/cover and livelihood change and linking land use/cover and livelihood change to gender relations and gendered labor availability within the household. Currently, she is examining the gendered dynamics of sustainable land management practices in the Upper Tana watershed in Central Kenya.

Africa Scholars Forum Welcome and Business Meeting

eUbuntu 2020 - May 15, 2020

Ubuntu Ceremony 2020

The Africa Scholars Forum, co-sponsored by the Pan African Graduate Student Association (PAGSA), premiered her first virtual Ubuntu ceremony on May 15, 2020. The ceremony was an interactive event to remember as Africanist scholars and supporters connected across the world brandishing their African attires and Adinkra backgrounds to celebrate Africanist scholarship and achievements and reflect on the effects of racism and inequality on the COVID 19 response to Blacks, especially in the United States. The Keynote lecture was delivered by renowned Pan Africanist community leader Tony Kwame Ansah Jr., and it was titled Race, COVID 19, and the African Identity. The lecture touched on the widespread impact of COVID 19 on Blacks in the state and the available resources to help curb this impact. The event also featured a poem rendition and an award ceremony where Pan Africanist graduating scholars from various schools at UMass Boston received recognition awards and virtual badges for their academic achievements. Other awards include the Community Engagement Award, awarded to Tony K Ansah Jr. for his outstanding community contributions to Pan Africanist literature, philanthropy, and capacity building, especially during this COVID 19 crisis and the Fatimah Kyari Mohammed Africa Unity Scholarship Award for Pan Africanist graduate scholars. The meeting was attended by the Distinguished African Union Ambassador to the United Nations, Ambassador Fatima Kyari Mohammed.

Africa Scholars Forum Ubuntu Recognition

Africa Day 2020 - March 6, 2020

Africa Day 2020

The Africa Scholars Forum celebrated its 2020 Africa Day with the theme “Challenges to Pan Africanism: Afrophobia and Migration within Africa’s Borders.” The event featured a plenary keynote address by Ambassador Fatima Kyari Mohammed ( the African Union Ambassador to the United Nations) and a gala keynote address by renowned Nollywood filmmaker Rahman Oladigbolu( Producer of the award-winning film “Soul Sisters”). The event also featured a plenary panel session with distinguished scholars from the Greater Boston Area, a graduate student roundtable, a fashion show, Afrobeat entertainment, and African food.  The Africa Day 2020 event celebrated and deepened discussion and Africa research study for graduate and undergraduate students at UMass Boston. It also led to the establishment of the Fatima Kyari Mohammed ASF scholarship fund.

2020 Africa Day Welcoming Remarks
2020 Africa Day Keynote Ambassador Fatima Kyari Mohammed
2020 Africa Day Panel Between Afrophobia and Afrophilia
2020 Africa Day Students Roundtable


Ubuntu 2019 - May 15, 2019

Ubuntu Award Ceremony 2019

The African Scholars Forum celebrated her first Ubuntu ceremony on May 15, 2019. This event was co-sponsored by the Pan African Graduate Students Association (PAGSA). The event was a celebration of Pan Africanist academic and community engagement achievements at UMass Boston and the Greater Boston Area. The ceremony was captioned "Ubuntu" to recognize the oneness of all Blacks. "Ubuntu" is part of the Xhosa phrase "Umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu", which means, "a person is a person because of other people". The event featured a keynote lecture, award ceremony, and networking with great African food and music. The keynote speaker was community visionary Vivian Kobusingye Birchall, and she presented a talk on the significant role of Africans in Boston. The award ceremony included recognition awards to Pan Africanist graduating scholars with Bachelor, Master, and Doctoral degrees from various schools at UMass Boston. These scholars were presented with branded Kente stoles, certificates, and award plaques as recognition of their academic achievements. The ceremony also featured a community engagement award from ASF and PAGSA recognizing Vivian Kobusingye Birchall for her community engagement achievements, especially her work as a producer and host of Africa2U, a local TV show that increases awareness of African nations, people, and culture in America.

Launching Event: First Africa Day - February 27, 2019

Africa Day 2019

The Africa Scholars Forum launched a successful 1st Africa Day with the theme "Pan Africa Rising." The event featured keynote speakers, panel discussions, graduate student flash talks, an African marketplace, and a gala night reception with Afrobeat entertainment and African food. Africa Day was a premier event that hopes to establish a platform for deepened Africa Research study for graduate and undergraduate students here at UMass Boston.

Opening Remarks by Professor Rita Kiki Edozie and Keynote Lecture by Professor Pearl Robinson
Panel Discussion 1: African Perspectives on Democracy, Security and Global Governance
Panel Discussion 2: Beyond Neoliberalism and the Prospects for Pan-African Economics
Graduate Student Flash Talks

McCormack Speaks Blog



Africa Scholars Forum