As part of Florida A&M University’s expanded international focus, designed to prepare students to compete in a global society, officials at the historically Black university are looking to establish economic and development collaborations with African leaders as well as foster relationships to higher education institutions in Africa. This week, a delegation of FAMU faculty and 12 FAMU students will visit Ghana.
Dr. Lydia McKinley-Floyd, dean of FAMU’s School of Business and Industry (SBI), and Tallahassee Mayor John Marks, who is also traveling with the delegation, plan to explore areas of potential economic and developmental collaborations that can be cultivated between Tallahassee and Ghana.
At the same time, FAMU students will spend 10 weeks conducting research on health disparities associated with HIV/AIDS and cancer through a National Institutes of Health Program called Minority Health International Research Training (MHIRT), which is designed for minority graduate and undergraduate students with health research training.
“The MHIRT grant will facilitate student awareness of minority and international health problems, stress the importance and opportunities of international collaboration in research, as well as address health disparities from a global health perspective,” said Dr. Henry Lewis III, dean of the College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences and a member of delegation.
McKinley-Floyd aims to foster relationships between the University of Ghana, Cape Coast University and the University of Science and Technology. “We hope to establish linkages for our students and faculty from SBI,” said McKinley-Floyd.
In Nigeria, FAMU recently signed a memorandum of agreement with the University of Abuja (UOA) to strengthen the bonds between the institutions and further academic, social and cultural objectives.
FAMU currently maintains 16 active international memorandums with institutions, like the University of St. Martin in the Netherlands Antilles and the Universidade do Estado da Bahia in Brazil, as a means of facilitating meaningful international experiences for its students, says Joseph V. Jones, interim director of Florida A&M University’s Office of International Education and Development.
“The UOA partnership was birthed out of a happenstance meeting of two cancer researchers, one from Nigeria and the other from Florida. Both were interested in conducting cancer research in Africa, among other places, for diaspora studies. We seized this opportunity to expand the collaboration,” Jones said.
The agreement focuses on the university’s mission to enhance its international initiatives and programs through education, research and outreach. “This partnership will also expand the global experiences of our faculty and students and provide them with unique learning opportunities that will help them to achieve their goals,” said FAMU President James H. Ammons.
The collaboration will include, but is not be limited to, the following: academic and cultural exchanges, including program offerings; exchange of educational materials; research reports; reprints and other publications; faculty and staff development; joint research and development projects; student exchanges; joint programs; transfer of technology; and other scholarly pursuits, FAMU representatives say.
“Given the strong genetic ties of African-Americans to West Africans, especially Nigerians, this collaboration offers immense opportunity to address common problems faced by Blacks of West African ancestry,” says Dr. Folakemi Odedina, professor and division director of economic, social and administrative pharmacy at the FAMU College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences.
FAMU’s presence is also being felt on the southern coast of Africa. Jeremy Levitt, incoming associate dean for international programs and distinguished professor of international law, recently taught a course, “Humanitarian Intervention in Africa,” to 32 law students and lawyers at the University of Pretoria, South Africa.
Levitt’s lecture, which also was attended by FAMU law students and faculty, was presented via international videoconferencing from a classroom at the College of Law in downtown Orlando.
His presentation focused on Africa’s incessant deadly conflicts and the difficulties United Nations international peacekeepers as well as African regional institutions, such as the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States, face on the continent.
Levitt argued that because of international apathy and neglect, Africa has been forced to forge African solutions to African problems.
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