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African Initiatives

Working to improve the future of Africa

African Initiatives is a project born out of an effort to establish a strong regional emphasis for Korbel students interested in African issues. Director Peter Van Arsdale and members of Korbel's Students for Africa, building on the long-standing contributions of the independent non-profit Africa Today Associates, created a dynamic structure that connects faculty and students to organizations, in Denver and points beyond, that are conducting research and community outreach to bolster Africa's growth and development.

An African Issues Concentration is now available for graduate students; the relationships among African Initiatives and its partner organizations are ever-evolving as substantive opportunities for students to mesh their studies with community work are developed. Internships, volunteer opportunities, and research projects are presented through the African Initiatives website, Korbel's Office of Career and Professional Development, a physical display, listserv outlets, and the African Initiatives Facebook page creating an integrated system to raise the profile of our partner organizations within the Korbel network and satisfy the student need for easy access to humanitarian work.

In addition, African Initiatives is committed to working with Students for Africa, and other DU organizations, to enhance networking opportunities (especially with NGOs) and produce events that enrich understandings of 21st-century Africa.

Current Research

Kibera, Kenya WASH Facilitative Development Project  - In 2008, an informal organization called the Kibera Working Group was formed to assist with project development, cross-cultural liaison activity, fund-raising, monitoring, advising, and applied research for a water/sanitation/hygiene (WASH) project in the informal settlement of Kibera, Kenya. Read about this collaborative DU project involving the Korbel School, Daniels School of Business and Health Communications. 

The MaiMisham, Ethiopia, Resource Development Project - In 2010 representatives of the Josef Korbel School committed to assist with a multi-pronged development program centered in northern Ethiopia. In concert with the Rotary Club of Denver SE and the St. Andrew United Methodist Church, Peter Van Arsdale and several students worked in the rural Edaga Arbi/MaiMisham area of Tigray Province to assess community needs in the educational, water/sanitation/health, and energy sectors.

The Malawi WASH Study Abroad Program - This study abroad course provided students with a unique opportunity to understand water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) issues in Mzuzu, Malawi through applied research, field trips, small group activities, and classroom lectures. The course was based in northern Malawi and worked in partnership with Mzuzu University students and faculty members and the University's Center of Excellence in Water and Sanitation.

Innovations in Peacebuilding: International Norms and Local Dynamics in Conflict-Affected Countries Project - "Innovations in Peacebuilding" is a two-year research, dialogue, and policy project that explores innovative ways in which international organizations, donors, governments, and local non-governmental organizations conduct activities aimed at conflict prevention and management, peacebuilding and reconciliation. The project explores this research question: How do norms affect mobilization dynamics in local settings in conflict-affected countries, and what are the implications for peacebuilding practice and effectiveness?