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West Africa and the Diaspora: Continuities and Transformations


Seminar Overview: West Africa and the Diaspora—Continuities and Transformations


To support community colleges and minority-serving institutions, CAORC offers fully-funded overseas seminars that help faculty and administrators gain the requisite first-hand experience needed to internationalizing courses, curricula, and teaching materials.


This seminar, administered by CAORC in collaboration with the West African Research Association and its member center in Senegal, the West Africa Research Center, funds participation in a two-week workshop in Dakar that will also include visits to Gorée Island, Toubacouta, and Saint-Louis, among other locations. This seminar will feature lectures, site visits, panel discussions, and film screenings on the history, culture, arts, economy, and political life of Senegal, with a focus on connections between West Africa and the diaspora. The seminar will also place a special emphasis on Senegal’s spiritual diversity and religious tolerance, as well as the region’s growing transnational movements and their impact on society and especially young people.​ Round-trip travel, accommodations, in-country transportation, and meals will be provided for the seminar.

Program Dates: January 2 - 22 (January 2-4: pre-departure orientation in New York, January 5 - 22: on-site program in Senegal)

Meet the Senegal Seminar Team

Mbye Cham Headshot - WARA.jpg

Mbye Cham, PhD, senior Howard University professor, former director of the Center for African Studies, and chair of the Africana Studies Department is a renown scholar of African literature and film and has published extensively on the topic.  Dr. Cham has served as a jury member for prestigious review panels and awards, including the Paul Robeson Film Awards, Prized Pieces Film and Video Competition, and the Annual ROSEBUD Awards and Competition, presided on the jury at FESPACO, and served as consultant to UNESCO and the World Bank. He lectures extensively on African history and serves a panelist at numerous conferences and seminars.  He serves on the Executive Committee and Board of Directors for the Council of Overseas Research Centers (CAORC) as well as directs their seminars for community college and minority serving institution faculty in Senegal.  In addition, he directed NEH Summer Institutes on African Film and Literature. His leadership in the Center for African Studies has helped to garner a $2.05 million US Department of Education Title VI NRC and FLAS award, and his teaching and mentoring led to him being named a Graduate Faculty Exemplar.  Most recently, he and Cinder Barnes have directed an NEH Summer Institute for Higher Education Faculty entitled, “Concepts of Black Diaspora of the United States: Identity and Connections among African, Afro-Caribbean and African American Communities.”

Cinder Cooper - WARA Headshot.jpg

Cinder Cooper Barnes has over 20 years of higher education teaching experience. She is presently a full-time faculty member in the English department at Montgomery College and serves as the director of the Global Humanities Institute. As part of her professional responsibilities, she serves as the college’s Fulbright Scholars liaison and develops various programs for faculty, staff, and students. Cinder has an interest in Black diaspora studies, protest movements, women’s rights, and international education.

Cinder earned a Bachelor’s degree in English at the University of South Carolina and Master’s degree at Northern Illinois University.  She is currently working on her doctorate in Education Policy, Organization and Leadership with a focus on Global Studies.  Cinder has been awarded a National Institute of Staff and Organizational Development (NISOD) Excellence Award, Montgomery College’s Outstanding Faculty Service Award, and an American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) community college faculty fellowship.  Her most recent accomplishment was co-authoring a National Endowment for the Humanities grant to host a Summer Institute for Higher Education Faculty entitled “Concepts of Black Diaspora in the United States: Identity and Connections among African, Afro-Caribbean, and African American Communities,” which Montgomery College received, and which she co-directed with Howard University professor, Mbye Cham in the summer of 2022.



The program is open to full-time or part-time faculty and administrators at U.S. community colleges or minority-serving institutions. A directory of MSIs can be found at the Rutgers Center for Minority Serving Institutions. The program is open to faculty in all fields, at all academic ranks, and from any academic or administrative department.

Applicants may apply to only one (1) of the concurrent CAORC Overseas Faculty Development Seminar opportunities being offered.  Applicants who apply to more than one concurrent seminar may be removed from consideration for all seminars. 

CAORC and the U.S. Department of State do not require any vaccinations to participate in the Overseas Faculty Development Seminar program, however the host countries, overseas research centers, individual sites, and communities that are part of the FDS program schedule may have their own requirements for vaccination. These requirements may change from the time of application to the time of travel.  

Applicants must be U.S. citizens at the time of application and must hold a valid, current U.S. passport that does not expire within six months of the last date of the program.

Note: Previous Overseas Faculty Development Seminar awardees are requested to observe a one-year waiting period before applying for another program

Program Expectations


As an outcome of the Overseas Faculty Development Seminar program, participants are required to develop and implement a project to increase internationalization on their campus. Details and examples of these projects will be shared with awardees during pre-departure orientation. Projects should be implemented within one year of the conclusion of the program, at which time participants will be asked to submit a project report and share curriculum and/or documentation of the project for inclusion on CAORC's Open Educational Resources site.


Application Process


Applications can be accessed via CAORC's SM Apply application portal. You must sign up for an account to access the seminar application. This will allow you to save and return to your application before submitting. Please save your login/password information for future applications.

In addition to providing basic personal and professional information, applicants are required to respond to the following essay questions (up to 500 words each):

  1. Discuss your background and experience, elucidating your personal interest in joining this Overseas Faculty Development Seminar, with a focus on the region and/or seminar theme. Provide details about your current engagement with these subjects in your teaching, research, campus activities, or community initiatives. (500 words)

  2. Articulate how your participation in the seminar will contribute to your professional growth, particularly in enhancing your teaching, research methods, and/or contribution to global education on your campus. (500 words)

  3. Outline a proposal for your post-seminar project, describing how participation in this seminar will directly impact your teaching, curriculum, and/or research. Specify the projects, courses, or activities you envision resulting from the seminar. Furthermore, discuss how your OFDS experience might be multiplied for the benefit of your students, colleagues, institution, and/or community.

  4. Share a specific occasion when you encountered attitudes, perspectives, values, or behaviors different from your own. Explain your response and reflect on what you learned about yourself and your attitudes from the experience.

In addition, applicants are required to:

  • Upload a current cv/resume (maximum of 2 pages)


  • Request a letter of support from a department chair, academic division head, or academic dean at your college or institution. You will be able to send a link to your recommender via the online grant portal, SM Apply, by entering their contact details, which will trigger the system into sending an automated email. Your recommender will then be able to upload their letter. Recommendation letters will be confidential in the system.


​In their letter, the recommender should address the following questions/points:

  1.  Please tell us why you support the applicant’s participation in the CAORC faculty development seminar. From your perspective, how will they benefit professionally from the program?

  2. Please describe the applicant’s engagement with your institution’s internationalization efforts and how their participation in the seminar might benefit students, colleagues, and the broader campus community.

  3. Please discuss the applicant’s collegiality, teamwork, and professionalism. How have they demonstrated the ability to cooperate, work, and share with others to achieve goals and positive outcomes?

  • It is advisable to enter your recommender's contact details into the recommendation letter section of the application as soon as possible (and click 'mark as complete') so that they have sufficient time to complete and upload their letter. The applicant is responsible for checking in with their recommender to ensure the letter is submitted by the recommender deadline. CAORC is not able to reach out to recommenders on behalf of the applicant. 


​Opening date for applications: March 12, 2024

Application deadline: July 19, 2024 at 5:00pm ET

Recommendation letter deadline: July 22, 2024 at 5:00pm ET

Notification of award decisions: September 6, 2024


If you have questions, please email:

Funding for this program is provided to CAORC through a grant from the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs

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