Third Edition of Africa, China and Europe Intensive Programme in Development Studies (ACE) Successfully Implemented in July 2015 in Tanzania
View the 2015 programme here.
The third edition of Africa, China and Europe Intensive Programme in Development Studies (ACE) held at the Mzumbe University during 6-19 July, 2015 in Tanzania once again succeeded in combining education with practical research on development problems in the three continents. Through lectures and student fieldwork, participants gained an enhanced understanding of the inextricable linkages of these issues and developed a cross-cultural and comparative perspective on how development may work more effectively for the poor and the environment. The three collaborative institutions included Globalisation Studies Groningen (GSG) of University of Groningen (), Economics Department of Mzumbe University (MU) and College of Humanities and Development Studies (CoHD) of China Agricultural University (CAU). Themes of research included agriculture, livelihoods, environment, village economics and entrepreneurship, demography and public health. More than 40 students from the three universities participated in the programme.
The programme was launched by the Acting Vice Chancellor of Mzumbe University, Professor J. Kinoay, along with the Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences, Prof. C. Tundui, and the Associate Dean of the same faculty, Dr. M. Milanzi. They reiterated the support of the university leadership for the programme and made a strong appeal to ensuring its continuous success in the years to come. The programme coordinators, Prof A. Kamuzora (MU), Dr Pieter Boele van Hensbroek (), Dr Yongjun Zhao () and ACE student leaders thanked the MU leadership for their support in emphasizing the significance of this programme in promoting innovative teaching and research and facilitating academic cooperation. The programme was widely recognized as a major enabling factor for cross-fertilization of knowledge and skills of both students and staff.
This year’s programme gained momentum by inviting Prof Ernest Wamba Dia Wamba again for his highly insightful and inspirational lectures on Africa’s history, politics and development as an outstanding internationally renowned African scholar. This was followed by interesting lectures on China’s role in Africa by Dr. Chuanhong Zhang from CAU. Prof Huili He, Vice Dean of CoHD, presented a very interesting case study of a highly innovative project related to China’s rural reconstruction movement. CAU students’ fieldwork results on agricultural and rural development issues in another Tanzanian village supported by the Chinese government were also well received by the and MU students.
Equally appreciated by the students was the fieldwork component. They were required to work in groups to develop research topics, questions, methodologies and itineraries for their fieldwork in different locations in a mountainous village called Mgeta in the Morogoro region. By living in the village for four nights with intensive interviews conducted and results reported in plenary sessions to Dr Pieter Boele van Hensbroek and Dr Yongjun Zhao and the whole groups, they acquired more skills in designing and implementing field research. There was also great fun for them to immerse with local communities, trying to understand what local people thought about particular development issues. ACE offered the students a unique opportunity to learn how to collaborate by overcoming language and cultural barriers. This process has laid a good foundation for research by future ACE participants.
In addition to the formal and intensive research activities, ACE students also spent minor time in visiting the Morogoro town and taking an excursion to the Mikumi National Park not only for the purpose of sightseeing, but also of learning more about the people and environment, and forging friendship.
The programme was positively evaluated by the students as a breakthrough in learning and practice in social sciences. The fieldwork part was mostly appreciated as highly relevant to their studies and practical enough in helping them gain extra skills in interpreting and analyzing challenging issues of development.
The students were awarded a course completion certificate at the closely ceremony of the programme―a farewell party kindly organized by the Mzumbe University. The leadership of the university again were present in handing out the certificates with encouraging remarks made.
The fourth edition of the ACE programme will take place in July 2016 probably in China. Preparation will start soon. Based on the experiences gained over the last three years, no doubt the fourth edition will be more fascinating and stimulating in forging a more consolidated academic and research partnership between the collaborative institutions and in yielding higher-standard academic outputs.
Dr Pieter Boele van Hensbroek and Dr Yongjun Zhao
Globalisation Studies Groningen (GSG);
University of Groningen
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