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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 develop and improve international 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.

Seminar Dates: January 5 - January 26, 2023.

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 higher education teaching experience. She is presently a full-time faculty member in the English department at Montgomery College, for whom she taught in Macau, China, and where teaches both virtually and face-to-face, designs decolonized curricula and pedagogical strategies, 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, writes proposals and grants; develops various programs for faculty, staff, and students; and mentors junior faculty. Cinder has an interest in Black diaspora studies, protest movements, women’s rights, and international education. She co-leads professional development seminars for higher education faculty to Senegal with the Council of American Overseas Research Centers and the West African Research Center.

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.* The program is open to faculty in all fields and encourages applicants from a diverse array of academic departments. Applicants must be U.S. citizens at the time of application and must also have a valid passport or have already submitted an application for a new passport.


Note: Applicants may apply to only one of the current CAORC Faculty Development Seminar opportunities being offered.

Note: Previously awarded CAORC seminar participants must wait three years before applying again.

*A useful directory of MSIs can also be found at the Rutgers Center for Minority Serving Institutions.

Note: All persons who enter into a facility owned or operated by the West African Research Center must be fully vaccinated against the Corona Virus that causes Covid-19. WARC will also require all persons participating in its programs in Senegal to sign a waiver form. WARC exercises the right to update its vaccination requirement to ensure everyone’s safety.

Program Expectations

At the conclusion of the program, participants will be required to:

  • Develop a 1-pg concept note of short and long-term goals to increase teaching and awareness about Senegal and West Africa in their classes and college community.

  • Develop new or improved course materials about Senegal that can be shared as Open Educational Resources on CAORC’s website and social media to enhance U.S. teaching on West Africa.

  • Contribute a short blog article, written for a popular audience, that expresses something about how the seminar improved your knowledge or understanding of Senegal.


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. Please describe your professional and/or academic interest in participating in the faculty development seminar to Senegal. How will your professional and personal experiences, qualifications, and perspectives allow you to make the most of the seminar opportunity?

  2. Please describe how participation in this seminar is essential for your own professional development, i.e., improving your teaching, research, and/or administrative activities. How will you benefit professionally and personally from participating in the seminar?

  3. Please describe how participation in this seminar will directly impact your teaching, curriculum, and/or research. What specific projects, courses, or activities do you envision resulting from the seminar? More broadly, how might the experience positively impact your students, colleagues, institution, and/or community?

  4. Please discuss an occasion or time when you were confronted with attitudes, perspectives, values, or behaviors different from your own. How did you respond and what did you learn about yourself and your attitudes from the experience?

In addition, applicants are required to:

  • Upload a current cv/resume (less than 3 pages in length)


  • 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: July 12, 2022

Application deadline: August 31, 2022 at 5:00pm ET

Recommendation letter deadline: September 7, 2022 at 5:00pm ET

Notification of award decisions: October 31, 2022


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, with additional financial assistance from the following U.S. National Resource Centers in African Studies: Boston University, Howard University, Indiana University, Michigan State University, University of California, Berkeley, University of Kansas, and University of Wisconsin, Madison.

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