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Carleton University launches Canada’s first graduate program in African Studies

Carleton UniversityThis January, Carleton will begin a collaborative master’s program that will seal the university’s reputation as the “go to” place in Canada for African Studies.

“We realized that no one else in the country is offering this kind of program,” says Blair Rutherford, director of Carleton’s Institute of African Studies (IAS). “We have consistently heard from undergraduate students in degree programs across Canada, as well as representatives of organizations that work in this area in Ottawa, about the possibility of a grad program in African Studies, so we know the demand is there.”

Adds Rutherford: “We also recognize that Africa is at the forefont of many key contemporary and historical issues that make it an exceptionally important continent to study in this age of internationalization. It is home to social movements for human rights; is a key player on the international scene for trade, resources, economic and international development; and is a growing centre of world arts. Nigeria has the third largest film industry in the world and there have been five African Nobel Prize winners in literature.”

The new collaborative graduate program builds on Carleton’s existing initatives in the field. Carleton’s Institute of African Studies (IAS) is the only stand-alone degree-granting academic unit in this area in Canada. It was launched in 2009 along with a combined honours undergraduate program while the Canadian Association of African Studies moved its office from the University of Alberta to IAS in 2011. The Institute has already hosted close to 100 events. More than 35 existing faculty at Carleton contribute to the field of African Studies.

The new program will be open to master’s students in the following 14 programs at Carleton: anthropology, applied linguistics and discourse studies, businessadministration, economics, English, film studies, French and francophone Studies, history, international affairs, legal studies, political economy, political science, sociology and/or women’s and gender studies.

“This new concentration will add value to their existing degree by allowing them to focus on African Studies as part of their home degree,” says Wallace Clement, Interim Dean, Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Affairs.

The new graduate program also fits with Carleton’s strategic plan as the program:

· Is interdisciplinary – the new concentration will draw from expertise in threedifferent faculties and will bring graduate students together from 14 different master’s programs to participate in mandatory credit courses in African Studies.

· Expands Carleton’s focus on globalization – It will promote new research and academic links between Carleton and African universities, as well as focusing research on the African continent. This will be done partly through the use of videolinks.

· Fosters community engagement – A placement course will enable students to work in the Ottawa-Gatineau community and placements or in Africa itself. The program offers distinctive professional development options that will incorporate key community resources in the national capital region. As well, much of the graduate research will be directed at solving real-world community problemsfacing people in Africa.

This fall, Carleton is launching new PhD programs in Social Work and Applied Linguistics and Discourse Studies and a master’s program in Health: Science, Technology and Policy. Prospective students for that program are advised that offers of admission to a new program may be made only after the Ontario Universities Council on Quality Assurance has approved the program. The program has already been through Carleton’s own quality assurance process and been approved by Senate.

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