Under the leadership of Professor S. Garnett Russell with the support of graduate assistants Katrina Webster (Fall 2020), Moisa Saidu (Fall 2020 and Spring 2021), Madison Collins (Spring 2021) and interns Carolyn Swen (Fall 2020), Madison Collins (Fall 2020) and Margaret Kepley (Spring 2021), the Center hosted events virtually to promote research and inter-disciplinary engagement across Teachers College and Columbia University through research projects, conferences, and presentations. These events provided a forum for students to discuss their research and interests related to education in Africa with scholars, faculty, practitioners, and colleagues.

During the fall and spring semesters, we welcomed guest speakers, including human rights activists from Sierra Leone, Uganda and Ghana. We also held an information session regarding education innovation connecting innovators working on the continent with Teachers College students to meet the needs of students on the continent before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The center piloted an alumni event connecting current students with former students from the Comparative and International Educational program at Teachers College. Alumni informed current students of the processes and pathways navigating the post-graduation environment of educational development.  

Finally, the African Studies Working Group (ASWG), a recognized graduate student group at Teachers College dedicated to convening around education in Africa and the African diaspora, co-hosted events with the Center. 


Overview of Virtual Events*

*Names of guest speakers and their organizations have been omitted. For more information regarding past events please contact Madison Collins mc4925@tc.columbia.edu

Fall 2020 Events 

Coffee Hour 

September 15th 2020

In the fall, the CAE hosted a virtual coffee hour event for students and faculty with interests in the fields of education and African Studies to connect with each other. The 2020-2021 team dedicated to the center was introduced and welcomed new students to join. The work of the CAE was highlighted and upcoming events for the semester were presented. 

Technology in Learning Spaces 

October 23rd 2020

The Technology in Learning Spaces event brought together partners and diverse actors working with educational technology (EdTech) in Africa as well as actors that have formed a partnership with African Universities to explore different perspectives on technology in learning spaces. Overall, the networking offered students, faculty, and experts the opportunity to have an inclusive informal discussion about technology uses in African education. One of the major highlights of the event was a presentation that looked at the role of teachers and facilitators in classrooms using technology. The presentation highlighted the importance of having viable internet connections and steady funding for local education initiatives to thrive on the continent.

Student Research Presentations 

December 8th 2020

The CAE organized the Students’ Research Presentations to give students at Teachers College an opportunity to present on their research projects in Africa or the African diaspora. The event gave an opportunity to students who have conducted or planned to conduct research in Africa or in the African diaspora and were willing to share their experience and research findings/expected findings with peers and faculty members. Selected students shared their experiences and research takeaways. Overall, the event also gave the opportunity for presenters to practice their research presentation skills in a comfortable environment.

Disability Rights and Human Rights Issues Panel: Human Rights in Africa

December 10th 2020

In collaboration with the Columbia University Human Rights Advocates Program (HRAP), the CAE hosted a panel of human rights activists conducting work in Africa. The panelists included a diverse group of speakers with various experience and from various areas of Africa. Following the presentations, a discussion panel invited questions from students.

Spring 2021 Events 

Beyond the Classroom Promoting Innovative Education Projects

February 24th 2021

In Spring 2021, CAE was supported by a DCI grant to implement the CAE’s new ‘Beyond the Classroom’ initiative. In collaboration with the African Studies Working group, the Critical Dialogue in Education (CDE) Group, the Students and Emerging Professionals Coalition: Education in Emergencies (SEPC:EiE) (TC student organization), CAE organized a two-part flagship event on Education and Innovation amidst Covid-19. The first part was an information-sharing and consultative conference in which  key challenges of education in parts of the continent were discussed using an innovation lens. The aim of the event was to convene a forum for faculty, students, activists, practitioners, and other stakeholders involved in education projects in Africa and the African Diaspora to discuss the major challenges to schooling in times of crisis by drawing from innovative thinking or to think of how to confront the challenges in new ways. The event started off with a presentation by faculty member, Prof. Mary Mendenall who shared about her work on education and innovative practices on the continent. Key outcomes of the event included: It was an opportunity to also hear from education actors outside our borders to share about how they envision education and innovative practices amidst COVID-19. Additionally, the event created a platform and the opportunity for Teachers College students to engage with schools, education-focused organizations and practitioners and come up with innovative education projects proposals to solve the most complex educational challenges faced in Africa and in the African diaspora in times of crisis. Through this event, CAE and TC students started to build relationships and have a solid foundation for education innovation ideas on the continent that they want to present in their individual students-led proposals. 

Sexual Reproductive Health Rights 

March 9th 2021

The 2021 Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights event built off of the Fall semester event highlighting human rights activists on the continent. Student interest focused this event on female sexual and reproductive rights as it relates to abortion and contraception rights in Africa. Researchers and practitioners came together to illustrate the circumstances for women and girls in refugee populations and in Sierra Leone. A panel discussion followed the presentations by various guest speakers to highlight these speakers’ motivations, challenges and considerations for culture while navigating this field in the various contexts in Africa. Student participants were given time to ask questions directly to the speakers and to their own interests regarding this topic. Each speaker was awarded a certificate of participation after the event.  

Working in Africa: Information and Experience Sharing Event with Alumni and Students 

April 7th 2021

Seven Teachers College alumni joined the event live and one alumni joined via a recording to provide advice and insight to current students regarding the job process post graduation. These alumni presented briefly on their current and past experiences working on the African continent. A panel discussion followed to allow for space for the alumni to discuss course recommendations, balance between interests and employment in the field and positionality in development and humanitarian work. Breakout rooms were provided for each alumni where current students could connect one on one with the alumni who aligned most closely with their interests. Alumni profiles and provided contact information were added to the Center for African Education website.  

Other initiatives 

Center for African Education website

African-focused courses for Spring 2021

Alumni Profiles

Human Rights Education Curricula- Nigeria 

Grants Awarded 

Vice President’s Grant for Diversity and Community Initiatives 

In the Spring of 2021, CAE was awarded a DCI grant in support of implementing the CAE’s new “Beyond the Classroom: Innovative Practices and Educational Challenges in Africa” project. The funds are aimed at supporting a two-part event: The first part of this event was an information-sharing and consultative conference to deliberate the key challenges of education in parts of the continent using an innovation lens. Part Two was intended to provide a platform for TC students to present proposals on how they can work together in teams and co-create innovative solutions that address the complex educational challenges faced by an African-based community organization/initiative or program.

After a successful first event, CAE resolved to postpone the second part to next semester due to a tight timeline for planning, and competing students priorities. It is hoped that Part Two will provide an opportunity for students to engage with organizations that presented during Part One, engage with them to come up with students-led proposals that will be presented in Part Two.