WARA - Mission
West African Research Association Mission Statement The mission of the West African Research Association (WARA) is to enhance U.S. and West African scholarship and increase interest in international affairs among Americans through a reciprocal program of research exchange between American and West African scholars and institutions.
The West African Research Association (WARA) was founded in 1989, for the purpose of promoting scholarly exchange and collaboration between American and West African researchers. Its stated objectives are to:
- Provide U.S. and West African scholars access to research resources and expand research opportunities
- Create a point of contact for U.S. and West African researchers allowing the intersection of their respective research traditions
- Foster collaborative research efforts, conferences and projects
- Reinforce institutions on both sides o Supplement documentation resources - Award fellowships to American and West African scholars
- Encourage interest in international affairs and careers among American graduate students
- Disseminate information on West Africa-related research issues and periodically organize meaningful and landmark seminars, symposia and conferences when experts and researchers and creative artists and thinkers from different horizons and backgrounds, can meet and exchange fruitfully ideas, preoccupations, research results and stimulating thinking.
Prior to its founding, no other institution of its kind had existed in sub-Saharan Africa. The Council of American Overseas Research Centers (CAORC), with the help of a grant from the Smithsonian Institution, hosted the first meeting of African and American scholars to establish objectives for the association. CAORC groups under its umbrella within the Smithsonian Institute fifteen American overseas research centers around the world. WARA, the only such center located in tropical Africa is the newest addition to this umbrella.
WARA is a member of the Council of American Overseas Research Centers, and is now included in the ECA/CAORC annual grant (since September 1999). WARA has also been accorded membership in the Association of African Studies Programs, and is now recognized as a bona fide affiliated member of the African Studies Association, thus linking it with mainstream organizations dedicated to the development of African area studies and research exchanges with sub-Saharan Africa. WARA programs complement the efforts of the fifteen National Resource Centers (NRC) for African Language and Area Studies (Title VI Centers) to improve the cross-cultural learning of students and faculty in the U.S. through study in Africa and they partially satisfy the NRC's concern for the paucity of quality overseas study programs.
WARA's overseas office, the West African Research Center (WARC) in Dakar, Senegal, provides an institutional presence and lends continuity and stability to programs sponsored by postsecondary U.S. institutions. The overseas center and its programs create a point of contact for U.S. and West African researchers, encourage the intersection of respective research traditions, and foster collaborative research efforts. WARA seeks to reinforce institutions on both sides of the Atlantic, supplement documentation resources in West Africa and make available to U.S. scholars West African research data and primary documents by assisting in the introduction of West African librarians to online delivery services and the Internet.
WARA fellowships and internships funded by grants from the U.S. Department of Education have made it possible for under-served categories of educators and students to experience professional exchanges and carry out research projects in West Africa. Thanks to the recent inclusion under the ECA/CAORC funding umbrella, WARA has now been able to hire a fulltime highly qualified long term Center director, and also start a very promising collaborative Researchers-in -Residence Fellowship Program involving West African and US scholars. A new Travel Grant Program for West African scholars attending International meetings in their fields in the US, has also been instituted, starting this Fall. Other equally stimulating regional programs and activities are also on the drawing board. Moreover, the long-term benefits to national interests in the areas of business and foreign policy accrue by developing a close awareness of the societies in which Americans operate. WARA programs and its overseas center provide effective institutional linkages between the American public and West African communities.
Through its by-laws, WARA has established a Board of Directors composed of representatives elected by institutions and representatives elected by the general membership. Their role is to assure that the WARA mandate is fulfilled. The directors elect officers to oversee program operations and manage association memberships. The officers, in close cooperation with the overseas center director, are charged with the coordination and execution of programs taking place in the U.S. and in West Africa. The WARA secretariat, headquartered at the University of Wisconsin since January 1997, manages the recruitment and administration of a rapidly increasing U.S. membership, and disseminates information through the bi-annual publication of the WARA Newsletter. The U.S. WARA secretariat remains in constant communication with the Dakar Center, at all times.
In 1992, the Senegalese government provided a site for the establishment of the association's overseas research center, the West African Research Center (WARC), in Dakar. The center opened, officially, in January 1994 and its directors have been funded by USIA through the Fullbright-Hays scholar award program. The overseas center, under the leadership of its initial directors, Dr. Eileen Julien and Dr. Leigh Swigart and the WARA board, has moved quickly to establish itself as a regional research center of excellence in West Africa. The Center director is now Dr.Wendy Wilson-Fall, an Anthropologist by training and a strong research involvement in the West African sub-region as a whole ( Nigeria, Niger, Burkina Faso, Senegal, Mali). We have relocated our Research Center (WARC/CROA) to our permanent and much more spacious and functional premises at Fann Residence, near the Université Ch. Anta Diop, in Dakar since early September, 1997. Just as for the earlier temporary premises, these permanent premises of 15 rooms and dependencies are made available to WARA/WARC through a decision from the Office of President Abdou Diouf of Senegal. This means more adequate space for our library of more than 10,000 volumes and for the installation of our incoming electronic equipment obtained through a recent joint WARA / MSU (Michigan State University) / USIA grant.
Currently, our funding includes a three year $85,600 (annual amount) USED grant (through 2002), an annual $50,000 ECA/CAORC sub-grant, WARA institutional and individual membership dues, and overhead income from programs and services commisioned by outside or member insititutions through our Center in Dakar, or through our U.S. WARA headquarters directly. We also have applications out to various well chosen foundations and organizations, to fund joint research and educational projects and programs in the West African sub-region, from Mauritania to Nigeria.
We have now embarked on the initial stages of planning for our second International WARA/WARC Symposium tentatively scheduled for June 2002 as Africa in the Twenty-First Century: Perspectives on the Past and Strategies for the Future. Please note that the above title is still tentative; and likewise, we are still working on the final version of the 2002 Sympoium Statement. We are therefore hereby inviting WARA members, friends and associates to come to our Nashville Membership meeting scheduled for Saturday, November 18, 7:00-8:30 pm at the Renaissance Hotel with constructive suggestions. You may also email us your ideas. Thank you.
Our Overseas Center, WARC/CROA, has indeed made it possible for WARA to participate fully in the development of international educational programs, and to respond to the language and related program needs of National Resource Centers ( Title VI Centers). The purpose of the Dakar Center is therefore, regional and truly multifaceted. It is committed to:
- Provide logistical support for American scholars
- Offer institutional affiliation and facilitate acquisition of research clearances in West Africa
- Serve as operations base for its own projects, expeditions, summer seminars and linkage programs
- Serve as operations base for any U.S. institution needing assistance in the planning and execution of educational exchanges in the region
- Maintain relations with language institutes, research facilities, libraries, and specialists in the host country and the region
- Develop cordial relations with U.S. authorities and relevant officials in the host country and the region
- Create and maintain a documentation center and current periodicals to complement existing archival and library collections
- Develop opportunities for internships with local and regional organizations - Provide orientation and programs of joint interest at its facilities.