GW Announces Institute for African Studies

In July 2016, the George Washington University announced the launch of an institute focused on the major issues confronting the global community in Africa, one of the fastest economic growth regions in the world. The Institute for African Studies is currently led by Acting Director Ambassador Mulamula, Visiting Scholar at the Elliott School.


“Knowledge of Africa is essential for anyone working in international affairs. The institute will bring together faculty across campus under one roof to collaborate on a wide range of Africa-related issues, providing exciting new opportunities for our students to engage with the continent,” said Reuben E. Brigety II, dean of GW’s Elliott School of International Affairs. Dr. Brigety joined GW in 2015 from the U.S. Department of State, where he served as U.S. representative to the African Union and U.S. permanent representative to the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa.


The Institute for African Studies balances cutting-edge academics with policy and practitioner engagement, in line with Dr. Brigety’s strategy of promoting scholarship, teaching, ethics, and practice in international affairs education. It will create opportunities for students and faculty to connect with the worlds of policy and practice, especially through access to the D.C. region’s large African-origin population. The institute will also take advantage of the deep array of resources in the D.C. area through collaborations with local universities and libraries.


More than 50 GW faculty members with expertise on Africa across different disciplines and areas of study collaborate under the new entity. Among its core goals is a more focused course of studies on African affairs and a major conference or series each year focused on a timely theme, such as the Remembering Biafra Conference last spring 2017, which focused on the 50th anniversary of the Biafran War. Other initiatives include increased specialized conferences and an upcoming “Africa and Development” speaker series which will commence in Spring 2018.


“GW is committed to inspiring our students and faculty to study the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead in Africa,” said Dr. Richard Grinker, the former inaugural Director of IAfS who specializes in ethnicity, nationalism and psychological anthropology with topical expertise in sub-Saharan Africa.


The Institute for African Studies is housed at GW’s Elliott School of International Affairs, a leading school of international affairs in the United States. The school’s undergraduate and master’s programs were ranked among the top 10 international affairs programs in the U.S. by the Teaching Research and International Policy survey. The school’s research centers cover many of the world’s major geographic regions. Through the creation of the institute, the Elliott School seeks to establish itself as the academic hub for intellectual inquiry and public policy discourse in African studies.