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African Studies Centre Faces Worldwide Closure

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Special to the NNPA from the Global Information Network –

The impending closure of the African Studies Centre, at the University of Cape Town — the flagship institution for the continent—and news that the Africa Centre plans to do the same in London, together comprise a tremendous loss for Africa-based scholarship.

To top it off, a recent post on the U.S. Department of Education’s website quietly notes that the Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad program is cancelled for 2011.

PhD candidate Maura Cunningham responded with regret on her blog: “It worries me—even frightens me—that with this action the U.S. government is signaling its lack of commitment to education and forging bonds with communities abroad. Programs like the Fulbright-Hays grants aren’t just about supporting individual scholars; they promote work that helps all of us contextualize the world we live in and recognize how it has come to look the way it does.

"By not providing the funding necessary to support this year’s applicants, the government is implying that such work isn’t important, that we can exist in a global community but don’t need to understand it,” wrote Cunningham.

In possibly one of its last awards, the Fulbright-Hays Program tapped Judith Corbett Carter, assistant professor in the SEEK program at Brooklyn College in NYC to join 16 educators travelling to North Africa to study religious diversity. The group will travel in June and July, exploring issues of "religious tolerance and cooperation among the faiths in shared environments," according to the program.

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