The African Studies Association has been actively expanding its advocacy efforts on behalf of African Studies and international education, and creating opportunities for ASA members to engage in advocacy on their own. The current state of funding for international education is precarious, as the Trump Administration has requested the complete elimination of international education programs across the Federal Government. Advocacy from the ASA and its members is crucial at this time, as it is up to each of us to demonstrate the importance, value, and impact of African Studies, and more broadly, international education.
Since the Winter 2017 edition of ASA News, the ASA Board of Directors has issued three statements to the membership and general public on academic freedom, funding for international education, and more. You can see all of the recent statements by the Board of Directors on the ASA website advocacy page. In February 2017, two ASA members were selected as inaugural winners of the ASA Advocacy Travel Stipend. Andreana Prichard of the University of Oklahoma attended the Coalition for International Education Title VI/Fulbright-Hays Advocacy Conference and Nancy Clark of Louisiana State University attended the National Humanities Alliance Annual Meeting and Advocacy Day. Both wrote about their experiences for the ASA blog – these blog posts contain great tips on how individuals can get involved with advocacy, so make sure to check them out! The ASA will continue to award these grants in the coming years, and we encourage ASA members to apply for next year’s conferences.
This time of year marks an important time for a sustained advocacy effort from ASA members. On May 23, the Trump Administration released its budget request for fiscal year 2018, in which the Administration eliminates funding for Title VI and Fulbright-Hays. This budget request will be considered by Congress, which will spend the summer drafting appropriations bills for a final vote. Though the Administration requested elimination of international education programs, the final decision will come from Congress. The ASA will spend the coming weeks and months advocating for international education and African Studies with Congress, and the ASA encourages all of our members to do the same.
To support you in your individual advocacy efforts, the ASA created a template for a postcard you can mail to your representatives, encouraging them to support international education. You can access a pdf of the postcard on the ASA website, and print it at home or at your local print shop. This postcard is just one way to let your members of Congress know how important international education is to you and your community! If you are looking for other methods of advocacy, consider writing op-eds for your local newspapers and online news outlets. Sharing your personal story about the positive impact programs like Title VI, Fulbright-Hays, and others have had on you, your colleagues, your students, and the community is one of the most effective advocacy strategies at your disposal. If you are new to op-ed writing, see these talking points and examples compiled by the National Humanities Alliance. When writing your op-eds, please also remember the ASA blog! The blog is a great place to get familiar with op-ed/blog style of writing, and to share your ideas and experiences. ASA members are welcome to submit postings for the blog, and you can find more information about submission guidelines here.
Over the summer, the ASA will work to create more resources for our members as they advocate for African studies and international education. If there are any resources, data sheets, or other talking points you think would be useful, please let the ASA know by emailing the Secretariat at Kathryn@africanstudies.org. You can also utilize the resources webpage of the National Humanities Alliance, which will provide you with useful information on Title VI grants, talking points, advocacy guides, and more.
In addition to the ASA’s advocacy efforts to support funding for international education, the ASA has expanded its advocacy to international matters by joining Scholars at Risk. Scholars at Risk is a network of organizations that work to promote academic freedom for scholars around the world. In addition to monitoring academic freedom and publishing their yearly report, Scholars at Risk advocates for scholars under threat, and provides resources and training for students on how to become an effective researcher and advocate for imprisoned scholars. If ASA members are interested in learning more about Scholars at Risk, or would like to become involved in international advocacy at this level, please contact the ASA at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Advocacy will be prominently featured at the 60th Annual Meeting in Chicago. Over the summer, review the Annual Meeting preliminary program for updates on events and sessions designed to aid ASA members in advocating for African studies. Expanding ASA advocacy programs and activities was identified in the 60th Anniversary Campaign as a top priority for the association, and the ASA will continue to increase advocacy opportunities and resources for its members. New initiatives such as the ASA Advocacy Travel Stipend will be supported in future years by the 60th Anniversary Campaign Fund. You can make a tax-deductible contribution to the fund to support these initiatives here.
PREVIOUS ARTICLE: Read the 2016 ASA Annual Report, Available Now! NEXT ARTICLE: Coordinate Organization Spotlight: Ghana Studies Association