After four years of budget cuts and delays in building a home for its African and Brazilian Studies, the University of the West Indies (UWI), Cave Hill Campus has joined forces with the University of Johannesburg (UJ) to launch the Institute for Global African Affairs.
Through the joint initiative individuals will be able to earn a Masters Degree in African Studies. The programme, which will be taught online and face-to-face should starts in January 2020.
Outlining the programme during a media launch earlier today at the Cave Hill Campus, Director of the Institute for Pan-African Thought and Conversation at UJ, Professor Adekeye Adebajo said the joint institute will focus largely on promoting dialogue and research, especially on the Caribbean.
The courses proposed by UJ for the joint Masters Degree will focus on “Pan-African thought, theories around the African economy, conflict resolution, regional and international organizations”, while UWI proposed courses will focus on “sustainable development, racism and culture, gender and African identity and black popular culture” he outlined.
“The plan on our side now is to use an existing course in development studies with four courses – Pan-African Thought, Critical Development Theories, Social Policy and Advanced Research Methodology – to be adapted to suit our needs so that we can look comparatively at these issues within Africa and the Caribbean,” Adebajo explained.
As part of the programme, students will get the opportunity to do internships with South African ministries, UN agencies and other sustainable development organizations. The course will require a 20,000-word thesis.
“To manage the issue of limited funding we have talked about using both technology as well as lecturers from both universities travelling from each other’s campuses to undertake intensive teaching courses. So we hope all of this can be worked out and hopefully we can start the course by January 2020, at the beginning of our academic year,” Adebajo said.
Principal of the Cave Hill Campus and Pro Vice Chancellor of the UWI Eudine Barriteau said that having the new UWI/UJ institute would enable the campus here to be “strategically involved in the global African network enterprise and to participate in the unfolding global African narrative.
“This institute intends to be at the forefront of sharing and participating in generating knowledge about Africa and the continent of the 21st century. The Cave Hill campus welcomes the Institute for Global African Affairs,” she said.
However, officials said while a “lean and mean” approach would be taken now, it was the aim of the UWI to have a physical location at the Cave Hill Campus in the near future.
For the moment the institute will operate from the offices of the CARICOM Research building in Barbados and the Institute for Pan-African Thought and Conversation in Johannesburg.
Vice Chancellor of the UWI Sir Hilary Beckles explained that the US$4 million building that was intended for African and Brazilian studies some four years ago would be brought back on track.
It was on October 2014 that demolition work started on the site of the old chapel at the Lazaretto, St Michael to make way for that institute.
Explaining that work on that location was later foiled after the UWI received budget cuts from regional governments, Sir Hilary said it was now his intention to have that building completed given that the UWI was expecting a financial ease “in the coming year”.
“Unfortunately due to the budget cuts we had to stop construction after six months, but we intend to return to the completion of that building . . . Even if we do not get the support from our traditional forms of revenue, I will be very aggressively participating in the global financial system to find those resources in order to complete that building,” pledged Sir Hilary, while stating that the building would be constructed in the design of “a slave ship”.
Vice Chancellor of the University of Johannesburg Professor Tshilidzi Marwala said the cooperation between the UWI and UJ for the Institute for Global African Affairs began a year ago when the two institutions signed a memorandum of understanding. He said the success of the relationship was now up to “the determination of our scholars”.