July 13, 2009

Strategic partnerships with Liberia

On Wednesday, June 24th, The Honorable M. Nathaniel Barnes, the newly-appointed Ambassador from Liberia, was in Atlanta.  While here he attended a meeting, hosted by IDN and The Carter Center, to meet with representatives of area colleges and universities who have projects in Liberia.  This meeting highlighted the many ways in which area universities are involved in development in Liberia, and also the increasing value of collaboration and partnerships.

The list of university-based development projects is diverse and impressive.  The Georgia Institute for Technology is working with the Liberian government to reconstruct and develop information and communication technologies.  They have also assistance the truth and reconciliation process by creating and maintaining a website and by developing MOSES: Mobile Story Telling System to tell and record the stories of Liberians.  The University of Georgia , though its Carl Vinson Institute of Government, has partnered with the Liberian Institute of Public Administration (LIPA) to provide training and technical assistance to the Liberian legislature.  Georgia State University is working with the University of Liberia to develop a gender studies curriculum and a short-term study abroad course for Georgia State Students.  Emory University, through IDN, is working with The Carter Center's Rule of law Program on research projects related to gender-based violence and strengthening rule of law.

At present the global economic recession is serving as a catalyst for broad social and political transformation.   The work of these Georgia-based universities underscores the fact that global engagement remains vital to the mission of higher education.  But, the Ambassador's outreach to area universities and our eagerness to explore strategic partnerships with Liberia and with each other suggests that the time has come for universities - as well as other institutions in the public and private sector - to deepen collaboration in ways that will significantly leverage the impact of that work in Liberia and elsewhere.

Sita Ranchod-Nilsson

Sita Ranchod-Nilsson

Director, Institute for Developing Nations,
Emory University