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Using university partnerships for mutual development. Lessons from a half century of successes and failures. By David Wiley, Professor of Sociology and Director, African Studies Center, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI [email protected]

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Using university partnerships for mutual development

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Using university partnerships for mutual development

Lessons from a half century of successes and failures

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  • By David Wiley, Professor of Sociology and Director, African Studies Center,

    Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI

    [email protected]

  • Coordinator of partnership programs with UCAD (Senegal), Addis Ababa University, University of Zimbabwe, and University of KwaZulu-Natal.

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A large number of linkage agreements are signed on the basis of brief visits or response to donor RFPs. Frequently, these have few results and lead to little or no long-term activity

  • Both U.S. and African universities report “filing cabinets full of linkage agreements” that came to nought.

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Many partnerships are linkages and not partnerships

  • However, it is in vogue now to term most any linkage, no matter how small, a partnership.

  • Instead, we suggest a narrower definition of a partnership to raise the bar for mutual work: Partnerships are “any collaboration that has mutual benefits to both (all) the partners, that will contribute to the development of both institutional and individual capacities at both institutions, that respects the sovereignty and autonomy of both institutions, that is empowering, and has relations of reciprocity, transparency, and equity in power.”

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Utilizing partnerships for training and retention

  • Both northern hemisphere and African institutions need capacitation in their knowledge of the other, as well as assistance in offering an internationalized curriculum.

  • This does not occur without targeted planning and negotiation to seek a mutual commitment to providing instruction and mentoring.

  • This cooperation is more likely to develop from particular types of partherships

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Types of Partnerships: 1

  • Individual researcher partnerships

    • Persons with area studies commitment from the North who keep links with partner individuals and institutions or African scholars returning to update their knowledge.

    • These partnerships tend to endure

    • Frequently, they do not broaden beyond the the particular individual.

    • They tend to be more focused on social sciences and humanities and less on science, technology, agricultural, engineering, or medicine fields

    • Often supported by Fulbright grants

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Types of Partnerships: 1Individual researcher partnerships

  • New model of the Diasporan Returnee Scholar is very important as potentially very sustainable in MA/MS/PhD mentoring, research, and undergraduate teaching.

  • See Nigerian and Ethiopian models: the African university pays air tickets, local lodging and transportation, and sometimes a stipend for returning diasporan scholars to offer seminars, lectures, and mentoring.

  • It would be useful to share all these models through the AAU.

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Types of Partnerships: 2

  • Research project-based projects

    • Usually based on one researcher’s grants and research plans and frequently do not extend beyond the grant.

    • Sometimes result in longer-term links with African partners, especially if they are former graduate students or colleagues

    • Cooperation usually linked to term of the research grant or contract

    • Teaching and mentoring will develop only if African university negotiates this at beginning

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Types of partnerships: 3

  • Donor initiative projects and contracts

    • Especially common in 1950s to 1970s with large institution-building projects

    • Often are not partnerships but they may evolve into mutuality.

    • Frequently do not last beyond the initial contract period

    • Some exceptions where cooperation continued over the years out of personal commitments

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Types of partnerships: 4

  • Aid project-based linkages

    • Donors offer competitions for their home institutions to propose areas of collaboration with particular African partners (of foreign policy interest)

    • Were common especially in 1970s to 1990s, but have declined now

    • Partners frequently could not or did not find follow-up funding to continue the activity or linkage

    • Instruction and mentoring developed only if negotiated in the original RFP or as a side agreement

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Types of partnerships: 4 - Aid project-based evaluations

  • Too often were simply service delivery and not partnerships: “…while the overseas institution often played a major role in identifying the problem to be addressed, the U.S. partner often played a major role in addressing it.”

  • East African universities: “…deans and directors from African universities were open and frank about the need for joint decision making and activity, from initial program design and budget determination to project implementation and final reporting.”

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These aid-based partnerships funds frequently were used for specific U.S. foreign policy goals

  • The trend in the U.S. in the 1980s & 1990s and beyond was to create specific partnership programs, often defining the particular foreign institution, purpose, and activities that are expected.

  • These programs resemble contracts for providing services and may not conform with conditions that promote best practices in development international partnership.

  • Included curricular service activities, especially in Eastern Europe contracts to build business programs post-Cold War

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New AID project-based programs: Higher Education Grants for Development Partnerships

See new USAID RFP now for February deadline.

  • 20 planning grants of $50,000for long-term higher education partnerships between African and U.S. institutions

  • In (1) agriculture, environment and natural resources, (2) health, (3) science and technology, (4) engineering, (5) education and teacher training/preparation, and (6) business, management and economics.

  • Program hopes for $1 million per partnership per year after initial planning grant year.

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Governmental funding trends: Decline of partnership funds due to the economic crisis and priority on funding military goals in budget

  • U.S. government funding for partnerships declined markedly after 2000.

  • When the military budget exceeds that of all other nations combined, there is little margin for civilian priorities in foreign affairs.

  • Not clear now if there will be new funding for partnerships with the national economic crisis.

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Problems with most of these models: They did not address the development needs of all the partners

  • Models did not identify the shortfalls in internationalizaton of the U.S. university and its need for knowledge of Africa as part of core instructional mission.

  • They posited a one-way flow of “development knowledge,” reflecting the dominance of the Western models of development, structural adjustment, globalization, and unilateralism.

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5. New more mutual partnerships: efforts for more multilateral, balanced, and equitable partnerships

  • Strategic focus on a limited number of partners for the longer-term

  • Engage multiple faculty & departments

  • Invest in team-based strategic planning at the beginning

  • Engage multiple partners, not only bilateral

  • Incorporate shared teaching, faculty & grad student exchange

  • Conceptualize this as “creating a more global university,” not as an aid or missionary venture

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Addressing these problems of partnership standards and ethics - See four documents on your flash drive

  • Ethics & Guidelines for individual faculty working in Africa (Michigan State African Studie faculty)

  • U.S. African Studies Association Ethical Conduct in Research in Africa

  • Best Practices for International Partnerships

  • Study Abroad Ethics for U.S. institutions

The key to all these are values on reciprocity, transparency, and equity.

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Ethics for individuals in partnerships

  • Do no harm

  • Open and Full Disclosure of Objectives, Sources of Funding, Methods, and Anticipated Outcomes

  • Informed Consent and Confidentiality

  • Reciprocity and Equity

  • Deposition of Data and Publications

  • Professional Misconduct

  • Preservation of Cultural Heritage

  • Support of Academic Freedom

  • Support of Human Rights

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Best practices for international institutional partnerships

  • Provides a checklist for components of truly mutual partnerships.

  • Partners need to plan for meeting standards of best practices as they begin initial negotiations for partnerships.

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Checklist for best practices for inter-national institutional partnerships in Africa

1. Be clear about goals – What each has to give and to wishes to receive

2. Develop consortial linkages where possible

3. Understand each other – both constraints and opportunities

and commit to communicate frequently

4. Jointly decide what activities to pursue and resources used with “mutually acceptable resolutions of inevitable differences of judgments and perceptions.

5. Build for the long-term and not only “the project”

(5-10 years)

6. Develop detailed written agreement after planning and consensus

7. Be constant in goals regardless of leadership change.

8. Develop clear agreements and procedures for addressing conflict

9. Be transparent on funding sources, amounts, and intended uses of funds and any representations to potential funders.

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Best Practices for International Partnerships in Africa, contd.

10. Be transparent on issues of power among the leaders and stakeholders

11. Provide internal funding from both institutions

12. Address inequalities of resources among partners

13. Seek broad support from university faculty and administration.

14. Seek to agree on ethical and human subjects guidelines

15. Abstain from military, intelligence, covert, or secret research.

16. Engage in proprietary research only with mutual agreement

17. Be inclusive and equitable - equal opportunity regardless of race, ethnicity, nationality, gender, age, or sexual orientation.

18. Credit and acknowledge all contributions

19. Celebrate partnerships

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Especially for U.S. Africanists: No military or intelligence funding for any aspect of African studies

  • Since 1982 is policy of all Africanist centers, programs, and associations

  • Is the only world regional studies in the U.S. with such a policy

  • Have been under attack from the right wing in Congress for this policy

  • Especially important now with the new U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM)

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Using partnerships to obtain training and teaching, mentoring, and post-graduate training

  • All these are possible, but require the partners to negotiate agreements to provide these aspects of partnering from beginning of the partnership.

  • Always should involve exchange of knowledge and not one-way flow, though the subject matter may be different.

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Conclude on a cautionary note about an impending perfect storm that is growing, that will affects us all, and that increases our need to plan for partnerships that will empower us for truly international education and for collaborative action toward our governments and societies.

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We in the North and in Africa are facing a perfect storm with great implications for our partnerships

  • Huge economic crisis has developed with a loss of liquidity to fund anyone’s “development”

  • Loss of consensus on economic models functional for development

  • Impending budget cuts in “non-essential” programs in the wealthy nations may include partnership funding

  • Impending onslaught of global warming across the continent

  • Growing energy shortages that already are driving up food prices across the continent out of reach of the poor and making our partnership travel more costly and less possible

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More elements of the perfect storm

  • Continuing flow of Small Arms and Light Weapons to the African continent

  • Continuing civil conflict that urgently needs to be contained and feeds on these arms

  • The African Union has the will but not the resources to address these crises

  • A UN system in disrepair has weakened capacity to address the burgeoning conflicts after decades of neglect and U.S. hostility to multilateral institutions and budget boycott

  • A world currently dominated by unilateralism without strong traditions of negotiation, consensus-development, and peace-making

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Result: An urgent need for the intelli-gence of the universities to identify and promote “the ways forward” for our individual governments and each other

  • Provide intelligent analysis for government

  • Promote multi-national and multi-lateral cooperation

  • Collaborate to identify policy, energy, and poverty-amelioration paths

  • Develop programs together to address the nationalism, racism, ethnicity, and gender biases that infect our populations

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A common past as prologue- for a common and partnered future

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