University of Wisconsin–Madison

Message From the Director

Dear colleagues,

It is an honor and a joy to welcome you to the 2018/2019 school year as the new Director of the African Studies Program. My name is Nancy Kendall. I am a professor in the Department of Educational Policy Studies (School of Education), and I have been a member of the African Studies program since I arrived at UW-Madison 13 years ago.

ASP was founded over 55 years ago by Phillip Curtin and Jan Vansina—two scholars whose work has fundamentally shaped our understanding of Africa’s past and present. Most recently, Neil Kodesh held the role of Director, and I want to take this opportunity to thank him for his phenomenal stewardship and vision of the Program. Neil steered and strengthened UW-Madison’s African Studies Program through the sometimes rough waters of shrinking Federal support for area studies with grace and farsightedness. Thanks to his work, and the work of our incredible Associate Director, Aleia McCord, the UW-Madison African Studies Program has been selected to receive funding under the Title VI National Resource Centers (NRC) Program and the Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowships Program from the U.S. Department of Education. These funds are awarded competitively to area studies programs around the nation once every four years. Title VI support will be leveraged to expand the reach of our influence by sharing our African studies resources with the wider community, nation, and world; and to create innovative, cross-disciplinary area studies training that prepares our students to serve the nation.

The African Studies Program has a long tradition of securing this important source of support for area studies and language instruction. Our center first became a federally supported African language and area studies center in 1964 under the National Defense Education Act (NDEA) program, the precursor to today’s International and Foreign Language Programs within the Department of Education. African Studies has received support every year since that time. This year marks the 16th time that UW-Madison African Studies has been awarded Title VI funds, and this year, African studies received the largest Title VI grant on campus.

The Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowships program provides academic year and summer fellowships to undergraduate and graduate students to support African language learning and the development of area studies expertise. The African Studies Program awards 15-20 such fellowships each year, helping students study over 15 least commonly taught African languages including Luganda, Makua, Xhosa, Kinyarwanda, Wolof, and Yoruba, among others. As a National Resource Center (NRC), the African Studies Program has a federal mandate to support African language and area studies education on campus and in the wider community. FLAS Funds will be used to support African language instruction at UW-Madison, for high-quality public programming including our Africa at Noon seminar series, and to continue our successful outreach efforts. Each year our outreach programs reach over 8,000 people, bringing a little bit of Africa to K-12 classrooms and public spaces across the state of Wisconsin. I am particularly excited to strengthen the collaboration between African Studies and the School of Education, and to reach even more teachers and their students throughout the state.

Nancy Kendall is professor of educational policy studies. Her research examines the consequences of national and international policies and funding streams directed at improving marginalized children’s, communities’ and states’ wellbeing. Research projects have examined Education for All, political democratization and educational governance, structural adjustment and education, US higher education, sexuality and HIV/AIDS education, and gender and schooling. Kendall has conducted extended research in Malawi, Mozambique, and the U.S., and has conducted short-term research in Colombia, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Zimbabwe. Kendall was a 2009 National Academy of Education/Spencer Foundation postdoctoral fellow, and has received research support from the Fulbright Foundation, Social Science Research Council, TAG Philanthropic Foundation, Wenner-Gren Foundation, WT Grant Foundation, and Lumina Foundation, among others. She is the author of The Sex Education Debates (University of Chicago Press, 2012), and has published in journals including Compare, Comparative Education Review, Current Issues in Comparative Education, Educational Assessment Evaluation and Accountability, International Journal of Educational Development, and Sexuality Research and Social Policy. Kendall is Chair of Educational Policy Studies and Director of the African Studies Program and Development Studies Program. She is also affiliated with the Department of Gender and Women’s Studies and Global Health Institute at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.