African Leadership University (ALU) is building a strategic global partnership network with other higher education institutions worldwide. The goal of the institution is to be able to both give back through innovative contributions to global education, and simultaneously draw on the wealth of knowledge and expertise from world-renowned universities to promote the dispersal of knowledge at the institutional, faculty, and student levels.
Marielle Van der Meer, Vice-President of Global Affairs at the university points out, “Our aim is to offer our students the best possible global exposure – and expose the world to the richness of our community. Education doesn’t stop at borders – so neither should we.” ALU’s partnership with Middlebury College is one such collaboration that has already yielded fruit for both schools.
Professor Dr. Nadia Horning’s Experience
Dr. Horning, a professor of political science at Middlebury College, became interested in teaching at ALU after conducting research online and realizing that her skills could help make an important contribution to the students’ education. Her pilot seminar, Comparative Politics of Africa, took place in January of 2015 and 2016, with an emphasis on political science issues in Africa.
Dr. Horning finds the continued collaboration between the schools beneficial for both African and American educational environments. Her experience teaching in Mauritius was worth her time, as the students were very open to innovative concepts and willing to learn. Teaching was also beneficial to her; she worked with the students to strike the right balance between conventional and ALU teaching models, which expanded her teaching capabilities and gave her teaching additional meaning.
In the true spirit of ALU’s network, her teaching experience at ALU is reaching all the way back to her college campus in Middlebury, Vermont. She learned much about how vital it is to educate those in leadership positions regarding Africa, its history and the experiences of its people. In her words, “The result of marginalizing Africa in theoretical debates is the truth our ignorance precludes us from seeing: We know so little.” Now, she can take the knowledge she has gained and impart it to her students at Middlebury, breaking down that ignorance and building the foundation of inclusion.
Exchange student classes
Another way ALU leverages its network to promote global knowledge is by facilitating student exchanges between the two institutions. The exchanges, along with visiting faculty programmes, help broaden the overall experience for students at both colleges. In the words of Middlebury College exchange student Sena Voncujovi, “Without a doubt, ALU is a must for any aspiring leader passionate about positively impacting the African continent and finding African solutions to African problems.” The educational opportunities at ALU help provide a better foundation with which to apply liberal arts skills.
Honorary doctorate for ALU founder
The founder of ALU, Fred Swaniker, received the second of his honorary doctorates on May 28th at Middlebury College. This honor serves as a symbol of the vital ties between the two institutions. As Fred pointed out, “[The partnership] serves as a model of true global partnership – a holistic relationship centred around mutually beneficial and enriching opportunities such as Study Abroad, faculty exchanges, and other collaborative initiatives.”
Many in the educational field, including students, see such opportunities as representing a major change in how colleges and universities will address the needs of an increasingly global educational environment. The men and women who form the backbone of these partnerships will continue to provide opportunities that give graduates the necessary tools to address the needs of our diverse world and the challenges that young leaders will face in the coming decades. This strong network of students, professionals and institutions will facilitate the provision of robust leadership for all of Africa.