February 7, 2012

Despite cuts abroad, admin vow African programs won’t vanish

Changes made this year to study abroad programs in Africa and the Middle East do not portend a long-term reduction in the University’s presence in those regions, an administrator has assured.

The popular Civilizations program in Cape Town was not available to students who applied last month for a quarter abroad next year, and the University announced in November that its Cairo program would relocate to Rabat, Morocco.

However, faculty are deliberating over ways to maintain the University’s offerings in Africa now that Cape Town is no longer a study abroad option, and the University remains set on keeping Cairo as the nucleus of its Middle Eastern studies far into the future, according to Sarah Walter, the director of the study abroad programs.

“The College continues to maintain a strong commitment to Cairo and Egypt more broadly. Our intention is to make Cairo the permanent home of this Middle Eastern Civilizations program,” Walter said in an e-mail.

Meanwhile, Dean of the College John Boyer has joined with faculty in the College to formulate a plan for African Studies at the U of C, according to University spokesman Steve Kloehn. Faculty have raised the possibility of expanding the African Civilizations quarter in Paris to include an “excursion” to Africa as an alternative to Cape Town, although it is not clear where on the continent that trip would be, or even if it would be related to South Africa.

“Dean Boyer has asked the Africanist faculty how they wish to proceed with the African Civilizations program, and the College hopes to build new opportunities for students in Africa,” Kloehn said in an e-mail. “The College continues to support students’ engagement with Africa through the African Studies Research Grants program.”

It is unclear why the Cape Town program has been discontinued. When asked for a reason, Walter said, “We are drawing the faculty together to assess what plan they want to support in Africa.”

Students studying in Cape Town this quarter were unable to respond to questions by print time.

—Additional reporting by Raghav Verma and Sarah Morell