Guest Lecture at Uppsala University African Studies Course: Closing the Circle

In November, I was invited to give a lecture in the African Studies course at Uppsala University. The lecture was to be based on my research, preferably with a link to African youth as that was a theme for this year’s course. I chose the topic: University students in Ghana, Migration Aspirations and the Colonial University.

The lecture focused on decolonial thought, reasons for studying abroad and the situation for Ghanaian and African students at this moment. The class was small, engaged and were happy to interact. Several of the students were also exchange students which led to a reflexive discussion.

I invited a Ghanaian student, Claudia Esi Dentu, a former student of mine to come co-lecture with me. Claudia just happened to be in Sweden this semester on an exchange program with Ashesi University and Malardalens University.

The lead for the course we visited was also a former colleague from Ashesi University, Clementina Amanquaah who now is a Ph.D. student and lecturer at Uppsala University. It felt powerful to reunite with people from the past in my first guest lecture at Uppsala University!

As I was a student of this African Studies course back in the day, I was quite happy to be able to guest lecture in it. It was a closing-the-circle kind of evening!

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My Week: Teach, Do Research and Work-Family Balance?

This week, I have a demanding and varied set of tasks ahead.

Monday, I will be welcoming guests to Ashesi University from Kenyon College, Ohio, US (Their 2020 plan is interesting and impressive). I am the Global Liberal Arts Alliance liaison for my institution and the visit is happening as part of that alliance. I will also be working on a research project on social media in the Ghanaian elections with a  colleague to-be-presented at the upcoming African Studies AS-AA conference end of this month. I have a phone call related to the upcoming Uppsala University Global Alumni Day, I am part of organizing in Accra next month (UU alumn? Register here). Monday evening we have the Town Hall meeting at Ashesi for the fall semester.

Tuesday and Thursday I am teaching Written and Oral Communication at Ashesi to 80 Freshmen. This week, we will be talking about referencing in academic writing and how to use technology like Grammarly to write better. I will also grade their reflection paper. You can follow the course on social media under the hashtag #AshWOC. See posts for instance on Twitter. Instagram.

Wednesday, I’ll be working on a research project on higher education in Ghana and increasing university fees. I have a research assistant who is a former student and we have a meeting with an administrator at Ashesi who I think can help us. In the evening farewell dinner with the Kenyon delegation.

Friday morning, I will be talking to high school students at SOS Hermann Gmeiner International College here in Tema about diversity, using my own life as a starting point. I will also have a phone conversation with my mentor. In the afternoon, I will pick my daughters up from school. I am aiming at having a balance between my professional and family life, but rarely have time to pick them up from school, so value this opportunity to spend time with them and connect with their teachers.

Saturday and Sunday I will lay flat! Or something very similar like floating in a pool, resting in a hammock, or watching cookies rise in the oven.

What is your week like?

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Social Theory: Taking My Daughter to Work

This semester I have taught Social Theory – Ashesi University College‘s introduction to Social Sciences and the world!

It has been a good ride, I especially have enjoyed the news presentations and ensuing panel discussions – my colleagues and I encourage critical research and creativity – and have been rewarded greatly by imaginative and interesting presentations. The course also teaches a history of political ideologies from Plato to Putnam, more or less.

Yesterday, I decided to show my daughter and her nanny what my work is like and they spent the day with me. We took the tour round the campus (here you can too) and when my first class was about to start, she took a marker and started scribbling on the white board to the amusement of the 60 member class: ” Look at, Mamma!”, “Mamma, mamma, make a carrot!”

I smiled and remembered the many, many times I went with my mother to her teaching job…scribbled on something, ran around in the classroom, watched my mother teaching…will my daughter be a teacher too?

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Learning from Your Mistakes: Ashesi and Thinking Like a Genius!

I was happy to see this message on Ashesi’s website. A brief article outlining what happened in the beginning of June, when Ashesi servers went offline and we became very difficult to reach. What happened? What did we do? What have we learned?

Today, I am launching my short summer course at Ashesi, just three afternoons for a small group of freshmen (or are you now sophomores?) The course is humbly called Think Like a Genius! and is modelled on Michael J. Gelb’s book “How to think like Leonardo da Vinci: Seven Steps to Genius Every Day”. Interestingly the second of those seven steps is the willingness to learn from mistakes… What is that? You want to know the other steps? Alright. Here is an overview:


Approaching life with insatiable curiosity and an unrelenting quest for continuous learning


Committing to test knowledge through experience, persistence and a willingness to learn from mistakes


Continually refining the senses, especially sight, as the means to enliven experience


Embracing ambiguity, paradox, and uncertaint


Balancing science and art, logic and imagination – ‘whole-brain thinking’


Cultivating grace, ambidexterity, fitness and poise


Recognizing and appreciating the interconnectedness of all things – ‘systems thinking’


For the full shebang on how to Think Like a Genius!, read the book or attend the course!


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My Fall 2012 at Ashesi: Teaching Communication

This fall, I am teaching two classes, Written and Oral Communication and Text and Meaning. Both classes are part of Ashesi University College’s liberal arts core and both are offered to our first year students.

I really enjoy teaching these communications classes and have together with my colleagues Kobby and Frimpong created two intense syllabi full of writing assignments, readings and speeches/presentations. We are for instance reading Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s shortstory A Private Experience, doing a speech in the Ghana Decides Tag series style to be presented in video format and doing free-writing almost every class! We will also go for study visits, have guest-speakers and write a final paper!

My students are all really cool, lively and talented and have already amazed and inspired me, I also work with a fun and helpful team – hence I am looking forward to an intense semester of communication!

Collage made with Pixlr.

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Back to Work

My parental leave is over and I am back to work at Ashesi University College.

This semester, I am teaching the freshman class Social Theory. It is an introductory course to political and societal philosophy and focuses on the question “how can we build a good society?” Really, I can’t believe it already will be the third time that I teach it! The news for this semester is that we are on Twitter. Follow us on @SocThe or follow this link

This week is also Ashesi’s 10 year anniversary. On Monday, the anniversary was kicked off with a festive event for students, staff, faculty and executives of Ashesi along with invited guests such as the chiefs of the Akuapim area with the Berekusohene leading the group draped in the most beautiful and colorful kente.

The new campus – well for me it is new since I was away when Ashesi moved in in July – is purpose built and quite majestic as it is situated on one of the green Akuapim hills. Walking the broad, shaded walkways around the beautifully landscaped campus is definitely a motivating factor to strive for excellence!

So with drumming, smiling students and a campus in a festive mood – I was welcomed back to work!

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Online Teaching Resources

Today I updated my page on Teaching with some education resources. The explosion of education on the Internet makes it sometimes hard to find what you are looking for.

I suggest you try some of these sites that all generously offer high quality educational materials like videos, lecture notes, readings or reading lists and discussions about current topics.

For a complete list of my online fav resources, check out my teaching page above under “work”.

Which education resources have I forgotten?

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Achebe, Szymborska and Kindle: My 2012 Readings

Inspired by one of my newly discovered favorite blogs, Kinna Reads, I will hereby attempt to answer the question “What are your reading plans for 2012”?

Overall, I just hope to read a novel a month, because really this is looking like a very busy year, professionally. When reading is part of your work, I have come to realize that “relaxing with a book” does not have the same allure. Then add a nursing baby as the cherry on top!

Still, what self-respecting writer-wannabe can live without reading?

Right now, I am reading Achebe‘s Anthills of the Savannah, slowly, slowly. I like it, especially the idea of capturing a corrupt government from the inside, but stylistically the constant switch in persons telling the story confuses me. Plus I want to know if any part of this book can be used for understanding dictatorship, say in a classroom. Hence, I need time. I am also reading the collected works of Wieslawa Szymborska with the same non-speed. Now, this slow reading is for a completely different purpose. I read slowly to create my own images and because I like to think about that these are all the poetry we will ever have by her as she passed away earlier this month.

Then I am trying to get used to my Kindle. See pic! The reason I since October 2011 own a Kindle is all due to book-bloggers Accra Books and Things and Fiona Leonard. They convinced me that reading off a Kindle is just like reading from a book, only better. As ordering books to Ghana is a lil’bit of a nightmare, I normally fill my suitcases with literature. BUT STILL, if in Ghana when one hears of a new book, waiting is included. Enter the Kindle. In seconds one can get books of interest. Seconds! I am not even exaggerating! It is amazing really.

So far, I have read Fiona Leonard‘s book the Chicken Thief in full and many samples of books (they are free). Right now, I am “involved in” two non-fiction books on my Kindle. One is book on teaching critical thinking by bell hooks. I find it extremely relevant and am happy to finally be reading “the author without capital letters”. The other book by Ester Perel is called Mating in Captivity and is about long-term relationships. Interesting topic and great, flowy prose. My friends were right, by the way. Reading off a Kindle is better than reading from a physical book.

As I am bilingual, my reading habits are as well. I have read a collection of shorter texts Avig Maria, by Mia Skäringer. I have a few softbacks I might turn to, and my cook books, but maybe there will be less reading in Swedish now that I have a Kindle? The reason is the Kindle only carries English titles as you have to buy them off a big American chain store…

Kinna has promised to report monthly on her reading progress. Let me not make any promise of that sort, I would rather like to know about your plans!

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Kajsa HA Listed as a Top Blog with Go Overseas!

My blog has been listed as a top blog by Go Overseas!, a site that promotes teaching, studying and volunteering abroad.

So why is this good news?

  1. I feel good to be present in an environment that promotes learning.
  2. I like that the blogs they promote – actually, “love” is the word they use – are individually reviewed.
  3. Through a very nice email conversation with them, only after I discovered I was getting traffic from their site, not from any pressure to link back to them, I feel I have really earned my badge (see badge to the right).
  4. Also, I judge the quality of the listing by being in such good company.

On the Go Overseas! 10 top blogs from Ghana, GhanaBlogging members Holli and G-lish lead the list, I come in on 7th place. For top blogs from Africa, productive collaborative blog Africa is a Country leads the pack and I discovered some new interesting blogs from other continents from this listing!

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Teaching Ethics in Africa: Giving Voice to Values

Mary C Gentile Giving Voice to valuesThis semester, Ashesi University College‘s newest class, the graduating class of 2014, will receive a gift.

It is the new practical ethics course we will be teaching this year, Giving Voice to Values, inspired by Dr. Mary C. Gentile, previously with Harvard Business School currently at Babson College .  Originally intended for MBA students, the GVV curriculum is available for free for educators.

In a nutshell Gentile in her Giving Voice to Values curriculum suggests that we all have values, the trick is how to voice them or “how to speak your mind when you know what’s right” as it is called in the book (see image).

She has through research found that the single most powerful factor making people  speak up against violations of their values is (No, not a solid upbringing nor a strong faith, but) practicing speaking up!

It is so simple when you think of it that it is absolutely brilliant!

Through learning about yourself, your personal so called enablers and disablers of speaking up –  but also the societal enablers and disablers –  through looking at complex ethical dilemmas and writing scripts on how one could address them, we are providing tools for our students to voice their values in everyday situations here in Ghana.

Last semester, a working group modified the Giving Voice to Values curriculum to the Ghanaian, undergraduate student. We wrote new cases involving “your classmate” and “your uncle” rather than “your employee” and “your CEO” and thought of values conflict situations with a Ghanaian and undergraduate twist, one for instance focusing on family ties, another on plagiarism. I did a pilot of this new program in my leadership class, had a good personal learning curve  and many interesting and eyeopening practical discussions on ethics with my students.

As Ashesi’s mission centers around educating ethical leaders (see for instance this earlier post highlighting ethics at Ashesi), I am excited to see this course being rolled out to the whole freshman class this year and happy to be a member of the initiating team.

Gentile’s book on Giving Voice to Values is just now out, but while waiting for it to be shipped to you, do read this intresting interview with Mary C. Gentile on I’ve Been Mugged-blog.

Now over to you, how do you discuss and practice ethics in your organization/family/workplace?

Pic borrowed from the Giving Voice to Values book-site.

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