Exploring Kenya via a digital platform

Jonathan Jones, Staff Writer

As the COVID-19 pandemic approaches its second year, faculty and staff are continuing to adjust to the many challenges it has presented; these efforts have resulted in many changes to the academic structure of its classrooms.     

Associate Vice President of Intercultural Education Dr. Geoffrey Bradshaw and journalism instructor Larry Hansen have teamed up with EDU Africa, an organization focused on expanding African educational programs, to help students experience the culture and history of the African country of Kenya, now completely through a digital platform.  

Dr. Bradshaw explains, “For Madison College, we really try to bring global education from all parts of the world to our campus…we were actively looking for how we can expose our students to real experiences where they are learning directly from peers and participants in Africa.” 

The goal of the new collaborative effort is to help bridge what was once an in-person study abroad experience and allow students the ability to gain new perspectives and a deeper understanding of cultures outside of their own.  

World Issues Journalism and The History of Sub-Saharan Africa will be the first courses to utilize the new international studies program, incorporating the resources provided by EDU Africa to create a more robust learning environment, expanding upon already established coursework.  

According to Hansen, students at Madison College will be interacting and working with Kenyan university students by attending weekly interactive workshops where discussions of cultural similarities and differences including language, arts, politics, and history will be conducted. These workshops will also be accompanied by lectures from Kenyan instructors with the focus of providing a more complete understanding of Kenyan culture and history.  

While this program is the first of its kind at Madison College, it remains to be seen if it will continue after the pandemic restrictions are lifted.  

When asked about the program’s future, Hansen noted that it was still largely unknown if it would be a permanent structure within Madison College.  

Hansen does not, however, foresee this program replacing the study abroad opportunity, explaining that “…the goal is just to get back to square one, which is a real, physical, face-to-face experience in Kenya. This is just to bridge the gap until pandemic has subsided and we are able to return back to Africa. “