Oakton receives scholarship to study West African culture

Thanks to a Fulbright-Hays Group Projects Abroad (GPA) grant from the US Department of Education, faculty members at Oakton Community College will experience West African culture next summer.

The information gathered from the international seminar will infuse West African content into Oakton’s curriculum and enable the future development of a study abroad program in Ghana for Oakton students.

Eleven Oakton members and five educators from Evanston Township High School, Maine West High School, Carl Sandburg College and the College of Lake County will travel to Africa for five weeks for the “West African Anti-Colonial Imagination and Identity : Ghana and Togo “project.

The college receives this prestigious grant for the third time. Katherine Schuster, Distinguished Education Professor / Global Studies Program Coordinator, and Donovan Braud, English Professor and Department Head, will be the co-chairs of the grant.

“Receiving this prestigious grant is a testament to the collaborative strength of Oakton faculty in teaming up with a diverse group of educators and also in partnership with local high schools and colleges,” said Schuster.

“This is Oakton’s third Fulbright-Hays GPA grant, which is a significant achievement given that it is not common for community colleges to be awarded. We are extremely proud and honored.”

The team will travel to Ghana and Togo for five weeks in 2022 to immerse themselves in West African history, culture and the arts.

“The selection of Sub-Saharan Africa for this project was prompted by our identification of a significant interest in African diaspora and culture studies,” Braud said.

“Our degree program at Oakton currently offers only a few unrelated courses in African history, culture and arts. Through an intensive and immersive academic seminar in Ghana and Togo, participants will produce meaningful academic content to share the ideas and knowledge they have acquired.

“This grant will contribute to Oakton’s continuing efforts to develop African studies offerings in community colleges and high schools by opening an interdisciplinary dialogue between American academics and Ghanaian and Togolese academic, business, civic and cultural leaders.”

During the seminar, the cohort of instructors will learn about West African culture, languages ​​and literature, visual arts, mass media, politics, religion, history, philosophy, social movements and sustainable development projects by connecting with a range of representatives from academia, civil society, political institutions and indigenous cultures.

“This exciting opportunity will enhance my teaching by allowing me to broaden my knowledge of Ghanaian and Togolese folklore, mythology and literature,” said Tina Fakhrid-Deen, associate professor of English at Oakton, who is part of the contingent. going to Africa.

“Learning from West African scholars, community members and students will enrich my understanding and growth in this area of ​​literature. This seminar will also support my development of literary modules that recognize, create awareness, study and honor contemporary and long-standing West Africa literary traditions and their links with the wider diaspora. “

The total cost of the project is $ 148,628 and will be funded by $ 96,620 (65%) of the federal grant. The remaining $ 52,008 (35%) will be funded from non-federal sources.

For more information, contact Schuster at schuster@oakton.edu or Braud, dbraud@oakton.edu.

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