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First Mellon Faculty Seminar to Focus on Human Rights in Africa

The first Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Faculty Seminar, titled “Human Rights in Africa: A Transdisciplinary Approach,” will take place during the 2015-16 academic year at Washington and Lee University.

The faculty seminars are funded through a $577,000 grant W&L received in 2013 from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support W&L’s strategic initiative in global learning and enhance the quality of programs and projects in international education. The faculty seminars, one of three areas the grant supports, will focus on a particular issue that can be examined from a variety of perspectives.

“Human Rights in Africa” will include contributions from six W&L faculty members representing the College, the Williams School of Commerce, Economics and Politics, and the School of Law–Mohamed Kamara, associate professor of French; Dayo Abah, associate professor of journalism; John Lambeth, associate professor of Romance Languages; T. J. Tallie, assistant professor of African history; Tyler Dickovick, Grigsby Term Associate Professor of Politics; and Henok Gabisa, visiting doctoral fellow at the School of Law. They will work with students and visiting scholars to explore two main topics: women’s, gender and LGBT rights, and migrations, causes and fallout. The faculty will teach three courses in those areas, and student work from these courses and the seminar will be published in special editions of undergraduate and law journals.

Highlights of the seminar will include two symposia, a series of book colloquia and an African film series.

“This interdisciplinary seminar will draw from our faculty’s existing teaching and research interests and expertise, but will equally strengthen them by inspiring new ways of thinking about or approaching them,” said Kamara. “It is our hope that the activities we plan and the conversations that will ensue therefrom will enrich our understanding of the human rights challenges facing Africa today.”

He added, “In keeping with W&L’s mission to graduate students prepared for ‘engaged citizenship in a global and diverse society,’ the faculty seminar seeks to benefit from and build upon a track record of interest in global learning and exchange at Washington and Lee.”

A second Mellon Faculty Seminar will be held during the 2016-17 academic year. Information about guidelines and application can be found online.

Cover photo by hdptcar