Research & Scholarship

At the Africa Institute, our focus is not just teaching or research. Instead, we focus on multifaceted scholarship: the scholarship of discovery, the scholarship of integration, the scholarship of application, and the scholarship of teaching (Boyer, 1990). To us, these four pillars are integral to our overall mission of advancing scholarship related to African societies. More than that, these four types of scholarship mutually reinforce our mission with each type of scholarship feeding back into the others.

The scholarship of discovery: This form of scholarship is about uncovering new knowledge that adds to our collective understanding of African societies. Whether this is understanding HIV in Uganda or the polluting effects of the horticultural industry around Kenya's Lake Naivasha, the core of the scholarship of discovery is about understanding what previously was not understood.

The scholarship of integration: The scholarship of integration is not about creating new knowledge for knowledge's sake, but rather is about drawing connections between dispersed pieces of knowledge so as to better understand the real world. Integration is about connecting across disciplines. Integration is about placing research against the broader socioeconomic milieu of society. Integration is about understanding the connections between pollution in Lake Naivasha and the increasing socioeconomic strain in communities around that lake. Integration is what we aim to accomplish at the Africa Institute. We aim to not just understanding the isolated facts, but we instead aim to understand the bigger picture. To this end, we have built, and will continue to build, strong partnerships with governments, organizations, and individuals across Africa, as well as with expatriates, since their accumulated indigenous knowledge is absolutely core to the process of integration. Moreover, African members of the Africa Institute are core to the scholarship of integration.

The scholarship of application: As many have written, Africa is a continent with many challenges. Because of this, we see discovery and integration as roads into action. It is only through applying our discovered and integrated knowledge that we can make a positive impact on African societies. Importantly though, we recognize that there is far too long of a history of outsiders thinking they know what is best for Africa, when in fact they know very little. To avoid this failing, we again leverage our partnerships and our African members. More than that, we are careful to always listen to those with whom we work in Africa.

The scholarship of teaching: Knowledge is only as powerful as it is widely spread. Because of this, we aim to leverage our scholarship in our teaching activities. More than that, the Africa Institute runs the Master of Management of Applied Sciences (MMASc) Program in Global Health Systems in Africa (GHS-A) program, and several of our members run service learning and exchange programs with partner universities and organizations in Africa.

Boyer, E. L. (1990). Scholarship Reconsidered: Priorities of the Professoriate. New York.