The Office of the President and Georgetown’s African Studies program have partnered to create the Georgetown Africa Interest Network as a way to connect students and faculty studying about the African continent.

“This [network] is an opportunity for people to explore, to collaborate and to highlight the work that is taking place and share resources,” said Margaret MacWhirter, program assistant for the President’s Office.

A reception was held in Riggs Library on Wednesday to officially mark the launch of GAIN, offering about 60 faculty, students and staff the opportunity to voice their thoughts about what they hope to see out of the new network.

According to University President John J. DeGioia, 75 percent of departments on campus work with Africa in some capacity.

“Africa-focused research is widely available across the campus,” DeGioia said. “We see GAIN as a vehicle to share their work and involve more faculty over time.”

Heavenly Hicks, program coordinator for African studies, said over 200 faculty and students have expressed interest in utilizing GAIN. Hicks added that she hopes GAIN eventually brings alumni into the fold as well.

“It’s overwhelming what we have gotten so far on the network,” she said.

SFS associate professor Scott Taylor first initiated the idea for the network after discovering a lack of communication between different faculty and departments conducting studies related to Africa.

“We decided that the faculty coordination about Africa was ad hoc,” Taylor said. “We all had an idea of Africa stuff on campus but not its scope.”

With DeGioia’s backing, Taylor said he was provided with the necessary resources to create the network.

“Our connection to Africa is very diverse and rich,” Taylor said. “There are so many initiatives on all of campus that I can’t even begin to list them all, but GAIN will.”

Georgetown’s connection to African studies extends even beyond the classroom. In the past six years, the Office of International Programs has sent about 200 students to African countries.

Vice President for Mission and Ministry Philip Boroughs also attended the reception. Every other year, Boroughs leads students on the Center for Social Justice’s trip to Kenya.

“Creating this kind of network will give vitality and give resources to those who want to continue their connection with Africa,” Boroughs said.

Taylor and Hicks both hope that the network will grow to include even more members of the Georgetown community.

“I’m excited about it, inspired by it,” Taylor said.

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