Samuel Tefera Alemu (PhD) is an Assistant Professor and Asian Desk Coordinator at the Center for African and Oriental Studies and Associate Dean for Research and Technology Transfer of the College of Social Sciences at Addis Ababa University (Ethiopia). 

The African Studies Program will be hosting Dr. Samuel Tefera Alemu for a four-week stay from February 4 to March 1. Samuel will be joining the program as an IREX University Administration Support Program (UASP) Fellow. UASP is a program funded by the Carnegie Foundation of New York intended to support capacity development for higher education administrators in Africa and Eurasia.

Although Dr. Samuel Tefera Alemu works across many fields, his main areas of study are pastoralism, refugees and migration management, participatory land use planning and governance, conflict transformation and peace-building, and global One Health research.

Samuel pursued his M.A. and Ph.D. in Asian and African Area Studies at Kyoto University in Japan. His research there was intended to inform the institutionalization of pastoralism and livestock-human-rangeland systems in Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa. His dissertation was later published as a book, Livestock Mobility, Rangeland Use, and Sedentarization among the Hamer in Southwest Ethiopia. Samuel’s research on these topics led to his appearance in the National Geographic TV series “The Story of Us” with Morgan Freeman.

Samuel will present his work to the UW-Madison community on February 21 as part of the Weston Lecture Series. His talk, “Planned to Fail or Failed in Planning? The Commune Program and Development Challenges of Pastoral Areas in Ethiopia,” is a synthesis of past and present trends in Ethiopian pastoralist policy and the legislative, livelihood, and political contexts that influence them. He will place particular emphasis on government resettlement programs and the unique challenges faced by communities in the Ethiopian dry- and borderlands.

During his time in Madison, Samuel hopes to gain insight into strategies used by the university in developing centers of academic excellence on campus and in using those centers to address societal challenges in Wisconsin and beyond. He is also interested in exploring how UW-Madison integrates research findings into academic curricula. Finally, Samuel looks forward to visiting the Waisman Center. “As a father of an autistic child,” he states, “and as someone who worries about the present and future state of autistic children living in an environment that is not autism friendly, I would like to learn from their experiences and am particularly interested in how inclusive education is pursued in the United States.”

Samuel is eager to participate in vibrant discussions throughout his month-long stay and hopes to forge connections that will pave the way for many joint African and Asian Area Studies projects in the future.  “I love talking to people,” says Samuel, “and I am here to learn as much from UW-Madison and its surrounding community as possible.”

If you would like to meet with Samuel, please email him at

Published by Aberdeen Leary