Prof. Brenda Sanya Selected as Carnegie African Diaspora Fellow

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Assistant Professor of Educational Studies Brenda Sanya has been awarded a fellowship by the Carnegie African Diaspora Fellowship Program. Through the fellowship, she will travel to Kenya this summer to work with Associate Professor in Educational Psychology Pamela Raburu at the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga University of Science and Technology (JOOUST) to enhance publication options and guidance for graduate students in JOOUST’s Department of Education.

PhD and master’s degree candidates in that department must publish at least one scholarly essay to graduate. However, because of lack of funding for African-based journals and inaccessibility of international journals, there are a limited number of outlets for their work. This state of scholarly publishing and dissemination excludes Kenyan scholars from academic discussions and citation indexes, and it leaves students open to predatory journals that often seek money from researchers and violate scholarly ethics. 

Sanya will dedicate her fellowship to helping find ways to operationalize the requirement, underscore its benefits, and avoid the negative outcomes. She will document the “why” — why are there so few scholarly journals, focused on educational studies, being published on the continent? Then, she will address the “how” by teaching students how to research receptive journals or publications.

As important, Sanya and her colleagues at JOOUST will identify and promote potential adjustments in the way that faculty and students think about publication. While some might be waiting for a great breakthrough in their research before picking up a pen, Sanya would like them to realize that there is great value in literature reviews and other forms of exposition.

She also hopes that they will look to collaboration as a powerful tool. “My graduate adviser has 17–18 books that he has co-published with students,” Sanya says. She will encourage JOOUST faculty to consider collaboration as a model and to think about how they can bring their graduate students in on publication efforts. “That’s something that people can find hard, but we will talk about what it might look like.”

Collecting together the threads of the fellowship, she and her colleagues will produce a case study on publishing that can be used to offer insights for those pursuing degrees at the school — and those who are mentoring and teaching them along the way.

The significance of the work goes beyond simply training a new generation of scholars and teachers in Kenya. Sanya hopes that an increase in the number of educational studies publications disseminated on the continent will elevate the work already taking place there and bring Kenyan scholars into a more engaged conversation with peers around the world. When it comes to the discipline, “[Scholars in Africa] are living it, they’re teaching it, and they’re researching it as insiders. We should improve the visibility of their empirical and theoretical contributions.” Sanya says. 

Sanya’s project at JOOUST is one of 63 Carnegie fellowships that pair African Diaspora scholars with higher education institutions and collaborators in Africa to work together on curriculum co-development, collaborative research, graduate training and mentoring activities in 2023.

The Carnegie African Diaspora Fellowship Program strengthens capacity at host institutions and develops long-term, mutually beneficial collaborations between universities in Africa and the United States and Canada. It is funded by Carnegie Corporation of New York and managed by the Institute of International Education (IIE) in collaboration the Association of African Universities (AAU). Nearly 600 African Diaspora Fellowships have now been awarded for scholars to travel to Africa since the program’s inception in 2013.