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Call for Participation: Is there an African University?

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The workshop „Is there an African University?“ takes place from 15 to 16 July 2021 in a hybrid format.

Application Deadline:

We invite scholars to submit a short abstract in English (max. 1 page) until 15 April 2021 to [Email protection active, please enable JavaScript.] – Notification of Acceptance within three weeks


Date and Format:

15-16 July 2021 in a hybrid format

Keynote Speech:
Emnet Tadesse Woldegiorgis, Ph.D
Associate Professor of Higher Education 
Ali Mazrui Centre for Higher Education Studies 
University of Johannesburg
Link to abstract



Scholars at all levels (graduate students, postdocs, senior scientists)


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  • Our images and imaginations of universities in the 21st century are very much shaped by global university rankings and notions of excellence. In line with this, we more or less implicitly perceive universities against the background of some standard Western Model of the “Research University”, which is best represented in the United States and has some historical roots in the European tradition, such as in Humboldt’s or Newman’s “Ideas of the University”. Furthermore, higher education studies as well as higher education policies usually follow this path of mainstreaming an “Emerging Global Model”. However, in the real world only a very small part of the roughly 20,000 to 40,000 Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) is actually included in such discussions. What is needed, therefore, is a broader perspective that takes into account the diversity of universities in the world society not only in terms of their “ranking”, “world class status” and “excellence”, but also in their contributions to the local and global knowledge systems.
  • Against this background, we invite contributions for a workshop that will focus on Africa as a specific region that is not well represented in higher education studies as well as in global images and imaginations of what a university in the 21st century looks like. We are interested in empirical and theoretical contributions that explore case studies, examples and models of African Universities. We would like to discuss whether there is an “African University” and if so, what makes it “African”. 

We invite participants to think about existing university models in the African context and to examine what are the common characteristics and what are the differences. One specific focus would be to challenge implicit and explicit Western perspectives in this discourse. Also, we are interested in contributions that ask how a socially responsible and responsive university looks like in the African context.

Possible topics for the contributions:

  • University and society in African contexts (responsiveness, social responsibility, impact, third mission etc.)
  • History/histories of higher education in African contexts
  • Case studies of African universities
  • Colonisation and decolonisation
  • Internationalization and regionalization
  • Higher education management in African universities
  • Diversity regimes in African universities

The goal of the workshop is to build up an international and interdisciplinary network of scholars interested in African higher education and African universities. 

Organizers: Prof. Dr. David Kaldewey (FIW/University of Bonn), Lisa Schubert (FIW/University of Bonn), Berit Stoppa (DAAD & University of Bonn; former director of DAAD Information Center Accra), Philina Wittke (TU Darmstadt; former director of DAAD Information Center Johannesburg)


For the Call for Participation document click here.

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