African Futures Scholars Attend Leadership Retreat in Traverse City

The third cohort of African Futures scholars attended a leadership retreat in Traverse City, MI to strengthen their research leadership skills

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Published: Tuesday, 27 Jun 2023 Author: Justin Rabineau

Dr. Kadidja Kone participates in the leadership workshop

As part of the African Futures Research Leadership Program, the African Futures scholars attended a leadership retreat in Traverse City, MI on June 13 – 16. The scholars are early career women researchers from AAP member institutions who take part in a one-year program at Michigan State University (MSU) to strengthen and build the skills necessary to become research leaders in their fields. The program culminates in a leadership retreat to prepare scholars to incorporate what they have learned at MSU and apply it at their home institutions, and as an opportunity to experience the Grand Traverse Bay region in Michigan.


Led by two senior MSU faculty facilitators, Dr. Suzy McFarlane-Alvarez from the Department of Advertising and Public Relations and Dr. Patricia Edwards from the Department of Teacher Education, the  two-day workshop focused on building scholars’  skills as research leaders, including pitching their experience and work to potential funders, strengthening their mentoring and networking skills, and identifying and addressing institutional barriers for early career women researchers at their home institutions. Dr. Kadidja Koné, a scholar from Université Des Lettres et des Sciences de Bamako in Mali, emphasized the importance of acting as a change agent, especially as a woman researcher:


“Changes never come alone for women in academia, we must be proactive to see the changes we want our educational system to make. If we do not act, the system may simply transform us into what they want us to become.”


Scholars also had the opportunity to hear from Pfungwa Nyamukach from The Conversation Africa to learn more about science communication and the importance of sharing research with a broader audience.Reflecting on Ms. Nyamukach’s session, Dr. Jamiat Nanteza, a scholar from Makerere University in Uganda, highlighted the importance of using her climate change research to make a positive impact in the world through science communication:


“In the world full of professionals, I occupy a unique place - and my voice and expertise can contribute significantly to creating the positive change I want to see in society. But no change – however small - comes with comfort and exclusive ideas and discoveries. There is no short cut – as the expert in my field, I either start sharing my work and ideas and foster desirable change; or someone else will share it in a peculiar way and create undesirable change.”


Dr. José Jackson-Malete, Co-Director of AAP, provided an overview of the research landscape in African higher education, the characteristics of successful research leaders, and shared recommendations for the scholars to guide their career development. She added that the “AAP African Futures program was planting a few seeds at each university to become the change that African universities need.”


In addition to the workshops, scholars got a chance to explore highlights that Traverse City is known for, including one of its many wineries, Chateau Chantal, and the Mission Point Lighthouse on the Grand Traverse Bay. No stay in Michigan is complete without a trip to at least one of the Great Lakes, and for many scholars, this was their first time seeing one. Luckily, there was a break in the rainy weather and the scholars had a beautiful day to relax and reflect.


The current cohort of African Futures scholars will conclude their time at MSU with a virtual dissemination workshop on July 20 at 8:30am Eastern to share their research over the past year. You can register to attend the workshop here: https://msu.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_wRPuapghTZqoilFkNaoLFg