Universidade de Michigan – Divulgando STEM

 

DRAFT STRATEGIC PLAN

 

STEM – Africa Initiative Steering Committee

 

Vision

The STEM-Africa Initiative will advance research collaborations and career development in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics between the U-M and partnering institutions in Africa.  It will promote and enrich existing STEM initiatives in Africa and support new intellectual engagements that extend scientific knowledge and nurture emerging STEM scholars on the continent.

 

We shall attain this vision by accomplishing the following goals:

 

Goals:

1.      Faculty development at African institutions – mentoring and capacity-building

2.      Engaging UM faculty

3.      Biennial conference

4.      Access to Library facilities (Journals, etc.)

5.      Establishing opportunities for students at African universities to prepare, apply and be placed in graduate programs across all STEM fields at UM

6.      Research opportunities for M-STEM undergraduate students in Africa

7.      Student exchange

8.      Program revitalization and development

 A strategic plan for achieving these goals, together with projected milestones, is described in detail on the following pages.

  

Approach

Goal 1Faculty development at African institutions – mentoring and capacity-building

Two approaches are proposed for faculty development at African institutions:

a.       Professional development (Mentoring of junior faculty – UMAPS)

b.      Human capacity building through the establishment of Ph.D. degree programs.

a.      Professional Development:

For junior faculty in African institutions to thrive and be productive as researchers and educators, it is essential for them to have opportunities to develop professionally.   One effective way of accomplishing this is by providing opportunities for faculty in African Institutions to visit UM for periods of up to one year, at the end of which they would return to their home institutions.  Fortunately, as a result of the President’s Initiative on Africa, UMAPS, the University of Michigan African Presidential Scholars program is already in place and running effectively. 

The UMAPS program currently focuses on three countries:

1.      Ghana

2.      South Africa

3.      Liberia

However, this will eventually be expanded to include participants from other African countries. 

As part of the program, African scholars who participate will be enrolled in proposal writing workshops. Collaborative groups that develop as a result of the UMAPS program will be encourage to develop proposals to ensure broader participation of UM STEM faculty and further ensure sustainability of the program beyond the initial funding period.

 

b.      Human Capacity Building:

African institutions can contribute meaningfully to national development when they have the human resources to address the research needs of the nation, while also educating the workforce. Building human capacity for the institutions can be achieved in two ways:

1.      Providing opportunities for qualified African students to pursue Ph.D. degrees at UM.

2.      Working with African institutions to develop accredited Ph.D. degree programs in STEM fields.

Our plan is to pursue both options initially, with the view that the first option will fade with time, as the second option develops into a well established program.

This phase of faculty development will initially focus on three countries, viz. Ghana, South Africa, and Liberia.  Lessons learned from the programs implemented in these countries will subsequently form the basis for expanding the program to other African countries.

For such a capacity building program to be fully effective, it will be essential for UM to partner with other universities in the U.S.

 

Providing opportunities for qualified African students to pursue Ph.D. degrees at UM

On a national scale, this is the avenue pursued by most nations to provide effective Ph.D. education to their citizens, especially in STEM fields.  However, African Ph.D. students are seriously underrepresented in U.S. institutions, in STEM fields.  This is primarily due to the lack of effective guidance in the process of applying to U.S. institutions.  African students by and large, have very little knowledge of the critical requirements for admission to Ph.D. programs in the U.S.  There is no counseling on how to write effective personal and research statements.  There is very little or no access to GRE preparation programs.

Strategies:

1.      Collaborate with GRE preparation agencies such as Kaplan and Princeton to provide periodic preparatory programs at select locations in Africa.

 

This approach to building human capacity, however, has several drawbacks.

 

Helping African institutions develop accredited Ph.D. degree programs in STEM areas

The second approach to human capacity building, which is the more tangible of the two being considered, also happens to be the one that requires longer term planning and engagement.  This approach will require a significant amount of resources from the U.S.  Fortunately, however, there are a number of foundations whose charter allows them to support such programs.  Strategies that will be pursued to accomplish this option include:

1.      Encouraging STEM proposals for graduate curriculum development to be submitted to the African Scholar Exchange program.

2.      Encouraging STEM faculty sabbatical leaves of absence in Africa.

3.      Proposals to acquire funds to support specific faculty activity in Ph.D. program establishment.

 

Goal 2 – Engaging UM Faculty

UM faculty will be engaged using the seed funds of $35,000 to 40,000 (with a requirement that the project include an African collaboration).

For the first three years, a request for proposals will be issued to STEM faculty at UM to submit proposals on collaborative projects with counterparts in African Institutions.  Each project will be funded at a level of $5,000 to $10,000.

 

Goal 3 – Biennial  Conference

During the first few years, a biennial conference will be organized with participants from UM and African Institutions.   The cost of the conference will be borne by ASC at the rate of $50,000 to $60,000 each time, in the initial stages.  After that it, can be co-organized with partner U.S. Institutions, and be made self-sustaining through external sponsorship. 

Partner Institutions?

 

Goal 4 – Access to Library Facilities

With access to library facilities being one of the major obstacles to the progress of young faculty in African Institutions, it is essential to develop a strategy that will provide them with easy access to current literature at little or no cost.  Such a strategy should preferably enable all STEM faculty in African Institutions to have easy access, irrespective of their location.

Best approach?

Expected Outcomes 

Milestones: 1, 3, 5, 10 years

Benefits to UM

Benefits to Africa(n Institutions)

Sustainability of program

 

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