International Studies & Programs

Faculty

The Michigan State University African Studies Center has 170 faculty with experience on Africa, probably the largest in the nation, including the largest faculties in social science (40) and in economics and agricultural economics (16). The Center features many other scholars in African languages, the arts and humanities, education, agricultural and natural sciences, health and medicine and other fields. The faculty members are listed alphabetically by college and departmental affiliation, noting geographical areas of Africa experience, and teaching and research interests.

 

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Nwando Achebe Department: History
Countries/Research: Nigeria
Email: achebe(at)msu.edu

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Biography: Nwando Achebe is an award-winning author and professor of history at Michigan State University. She is the founding editor-in-chief of the new Journal of West African History (maiden issue, spring 2015), to be published by Michigan State University Press; and Co-Convenor of the African Studies Association Women's Caucus. Nwando Achebe's research interests involve the use of oral history in the study of women, gender, and sexuality in Nigeria.

Adesoji Adelaja Department: Ag. Food & Resource Economics
Countries/Research: Nigeria; Ghana
Email: adelaja(at)msu.edu

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Biography: Dr. Soji Adelaja is appointed in the tenure stream in AFRE and in 2004 was named the John A. Hannah Distinguished Professor in Land Policy.  Until April 2011, he served as director of the Land Policy Institute, which he founded in 2006.  In that capacity, he also served as the director of the W. K. Kellogg Foundation, funded Michigan Higher Education Land Policy Consortium (MiHELP), and the People and Land Initiative (PAL).  Dr. Adelaja’s work in public policy is highly respected and he has served as advisor to several key local, state, and national policy makers.

John Aerni-Flessner Department: Residential College in the Arts & Humanities (RCAH)
Countries/Research: Lesotho
Email: aernifL1(at)msu.edu

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Biography: John Aerni-Flessner earned a BA in History from Grinnell College in Iowa. He taught high school in rural Lesotho (a country in southern Africa) and in the Yup'ik Eskimo village of Kwethluk, Alaska before returning to graduate school. He earned a PhD in African and World History from Washington University in St. Louis and taught at SUNY Cortland in Upstate New York before coming to Michigan State. His main research focuses on how ordinary people grappled with the idea of independence in mid-20th century Africa, and how they came to terms with their changing relations to the state during the decolonization process. As a social historian, his classes tend to focus on big ideas like nationalism, slavery, sport/leisure, development, etc. and then examine how ordinary people interacted with these ideas, were changed by the ideas, and how they were able to change them in subtle ways.

Dalen Agnew Department: Pathobiology & Diagnos Inv Cvm
Countries/Research: Ghana
Email: agnewd(at)msu.edu

Peter Alegi Department: History
Countries/Research: South Africa
Email: alegi(at)msu.edu

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Biography: I am a  historian of late 19th- and 20th-century South Africa. My work focuses on the relationships between popular culture, politics, and social change. I’m the author of Laduma! Soccer, Politics & Society in South Africa and African Soccerscapes: How a Continent Changed the World’s Game, and co-editor (with Chris Bolsmann) of Africa’s World Cup: Critical Reflections on Play, Patriotism, Spectatorship, and Space and  South Africa and the Global Game. Current research projects include work on digital South(ern) African history and on community beauty pageants in apartheid South Africa. I am Editor of the “African History and Culture Series” at Michigan State University Press; Editorial Board member at the International Journal of African Historical Studies and African Studies; and book review editor for Soccer and Society.

Laura Apol Department: Teacher Education
Email: apol(at)msu.edu

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Biography: Laura Apol is an associate professor of teacher education. Her research interests include literary theory and children's and adolescent literature, issues of diversity in children's and adolescent literature, critical reading and response to literature, and historical children's literature. Recent projects include using writing to facilitate healing among high school- aged orphans in post-genocide Rwanda, and publishing stories of Rwandan Tutsi genocide for children of Rwanda and of the world. She has co-edited a collection of poetry for children and, as a published writer and poet, she conducts creative writing workshops and classes for teachers and students on all levels.

Ann Austin-Beck Department: Educational Administration
Countries/Research: South Africa
Email: aaustin(at)msu.edu

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Biography: Ann E. Austin is a Professor at Michigan State University, who held the inaugural Mildred B. Erickson Distinguished Chair in Higher, Adult, and Lifelong Education (HALE) from 2005 to 2008. Her scholarly interests focus on faculty careers, roles, and professional development, work and workplaces in academe, organizational change and transformation in universities and colleges, reform in doctoral education, and the improvement of teaching and learning in higher education. Her recent publications include Rethinking Faculty Work: Higher Education's Strategic Imperative (2007), concerning changes in academic workplaces and faculty careers, as well as work on doctoral education and higher education issues in developing countries.

Titus Awokuse Department: Ag, Food & Resource Econ.
Email: awokuset(at)msu.edu

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Biography: Dr. Titus Awokuse is Chairperson and Professor in the Department of Agriculture, Food and Resource Economics at Michigan State University.  Prior to joining AFRE he was Chairperson and Professor in the Department of Applied Economics and Statistics at the University of Delaware.  He is an internationally respected scholar who has consulted for private businesses, national governments, international development agencies, and non-governmental organizations.  He has taught undergraduate and graduate courses in international trade, agricultural and natural resource policy, and applied statistics.

Safoi Babana-Hampton Department: Romance & Classical Studies
Countries/Research: Morocco
Email: babanaha(at)msu.edu

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Biography: Safoi Babana-Hampton is Associate Professor of French in the department of Romance and Classical Studies at Michigan State University. Her primary areas of teaching and research are 20th and 21st century French and Francophone literatures and film. Her book Reflexions littraires sur lespace public marocain dans loeuvre d'Abdellatif Labi (Summa Publications, 2008) critically examines of the role of culture in the construction of civic consciousness and the formation of a modern public space in Morocco. Her current research project is a comparative study of images of multicultural and transnational citizenship in literary and filmic productions from the Maghreb and the Maghrebi diaspora in France.

John P. Beck Department: Human Resources & Labor Relations
Email: beckj(at)msu.edu

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Biography: John P. Beck is an Associate Professor in the School of Human Resources & Labor Relations at Michigan State University. He previously served as associate director of the School, primarily in charge of two of the School's outreach units, the Labor Education Program and Union Management Initiatives. He also co-directs a project (with Karen Klomparens, the Dean of the MSU Graduate School), "Building Mutual Expectations and Resolving Conflicts in Graduate Education," on the use of interest-based conflict resolution approaches for graduate students and their faculty mentors. John holds degrees from Michigan State University and the University of Michigan. He worked for five years on the staff of the University of Michigan Labor Studies Center. He has taught labor studies on the community college level in both Oklahoma and Michigan and has taught history and education courses at the university level.