May 22, 2014

Georgetown Jesuit Fellow to Help Set Up University in Ivory Coast

Following a two-year fellowship at Georgetown, Burkinabe Jesuit Fr. François Pazisnewende Kabore will return to Ivory Coast in May to assist in building the province's first university.

Starting in summer 2014, the Jesuit-run Center for Research and Action for Peace (Le Centre de Recherche et d’Action pour la Paix, CERAP), in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, will begin a transition from social research center to university. CERAP itself, where Fr. Kabore was previously director of academic programs, builds on the former African Institute for Social and Economic Development (L'Institut Africain pour le développement économique et social, INADES). Now, the center will be evolving again to help meet growing demand for higher education.

Preparing for a New Role

The timeline for the transition is ambitious: the first class of undergraduates would matriculate by October 2014. Tapped by his provincial superior to help lead the process, Fr. Kabore acknowledges the scope of his upcoming mission and the speed at which he will have to work. After spending the last two years at Georgetown, however, Fr. Kabore says he feels prepared for the challenge.

After receiving a three-year certificate in teaching excellence and his Ph.D. in economics in 2012, Fr. Kabore took a fellowship in Georgetown's newly-opened Global Human Development (GHD) program to hone his research and teaching skills. Since then, he has published three papers (with a fourth in progress), taught courses on quantitative methods and economic analysis, and has been immersed in Georgetown’s academic and Jesuit communities.

The combined experience has been instrumental in preparing for his new role. Academically, Fr. Kabore has been an active part of Georgetown's teaching and learning culture as well as in the startup of a major new program (GHD). Living and learning with his fellow Jesuits, meanwhile, has shown Fr. Kabore “what it means to be a university with a Jesuit spirituality.” Both academic excellence and spiritual character will be key to CERAP's transition into a new Jesuit university.

Connecting with Tradition

His time on the Hilltop has also convinced Fr. Kabore that, beyond studies and spirituality, “to be global is inherent to what it is to be a Jesuit university.” In its scope and depth of vision, he says, “Georgetown is a testimony to the tradition of the Society in higher education. And it is important that we in West Africa connect with that tradition.”

Although his new mission will preclude his own coming back to Georgetown in the near future, Fr. Kabore would like to keep the future West African Jesuit university connected with Georgetown in the long run. The new university could set up student exchange programs and join other networks such as the Education and Social Justice Project.

Nurturing a Global Network

Given how enriching the past two years have been for him, Fr. Kabore hopes that Georgetown will continue to find ways to enable Jesuit scholars from around the world to connect with and experience all that Georgetown—and Washington, D.C.—have to offer. This, Fr. Kabore says, would be a key contribution to the global networking of Jesuit higher education. As he prepares to begin his work in Ivory Coast, Fr. Kabore says that his own experience at Georgetown "will definitely make the difference in what is to come.”

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