Capacity-building projects in African higher education

Issues of coloniality in international academic collaboration

in Learning and Teaching
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Hanne Kirstine Adriansen Aarhus University hka@edu.au.dk

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Lene Møller Madsen University of Copenhagen lmmadsen@ind.ku.dk

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Abstract

This article studies issues of coloniality in so-called capacity-building projects between universities in Africa and Scandinavia. Even fifty years after independence, the African higher education landscape is a product of the colonial powers and subsequent uneven power relations, as argued by a number of researchers. The uneven geography and power of knowledge exist also between countries that were not in a direct colonial relationship, which the word coloniality implies. Based on interviews with stakeholders and on our own experiences of capacity-building projects, this article examines how such projects affect teaching, learning, curriculum, research methodology and issues of quality enhancement. We analyse the dilemmas and paradoxes involved in this type of international collaboration and conclude by offering ways to decolonise capacity-building projects.

Contributor Notes

Hanne Kirstine Adriansen is Associate Professor in the Department of Education at Aarhus University, Denmark, where she is also the international coordinator. Originally trained as a human geographer, her research interests include spatial aspects of education and knowledge production, as well as internationalisation of higher education. She has extensive fieldwork experience from West and North Africa, where she has worked in close collaboration with local universities and other research institutions. She has also participated in several research capacity-building projects in Africa and Asia. Her current research projects concern geographies of knowledge, decolonising the curriculum and place-making through internationalisation. Email: hka@edu.au.dk

Lene Møller Madsen is Associate Professor in the Department of Science Education at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark. She trained as a human geographer and has worked in education for the past fourteen years. Her research areas include students’ academic integration into higher education and students’ engagement in the geosciences. She has been involved in several EU and Danish targeted research capacity-building projects at the institutional level, for example, changing bachelor programmes to meet the needs of society, as well as faculty-oriented projects designing and conducting short teaching and learning courses in both East and West Africa. These courses have concerned training of faculty in subjects like PhD supervision, research based teaching and qualitative methods. Email: lmmadsen@ind.ku.dk

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