Alfred Momodu grew up in Nigeria. He completed his undergraduate degree in Law from Lancaster University before moving to U-M, where he completed his LLM from Michigan Law in 2019. This year, Alfred will earn his second degree from U-M when he graduates from the Masters in International and Regional Studies (MIRS) African Studies specialization degree program.
Alfred takes pleasure in being surrounded by brilliant African thinkers who write and care about the continent. The African studies specialization of the MIRS program provided ample opportunity for such interactions, ranging from academic lectures to more personal social interactions. Alfred remembers fondly a warm summer afternoon in 2021 when he and other MIRS students were hosted by ASC Associate Director Henrike Florusbosch and her family. It created a wonderful opportunity to sample meals from different parts of the continent and, through food and company, created a sense of ‘home away from home’ in Ann Arbor.
In Alfred’s MIRS thesis titled “Digital Public as a Site of Moral Negotiation and Coercion in Nigeria: A Theoretical Case,” he argues that many Nigerians, especially the youth, are cultivating what can be called a “digital citizenship.” He shows how the shared experience of joy, struggle and dissonance, and the unique opportunities provided by social media for the articulation and dissemination of this reality, is curating a kinship that includes but also transcends ethnic ties or ties to the state. He explores the moral frameworks that result from this citizenship and critiques recent parliamentary bills to restrict social media discourse. Finally, Alfred plans to celebrate the completion of his MIRS degree by going on a road trip with his friends.
Renhui Chen is from Shanghai, China. She previously completed her MS degree from U-M’s School of the Environment and Sustainability. Renhui will be earning her second degree from U-M when she graduates from the Masters in International and Regional Studies (MIRS) African Studies specialization degree program in April.
“I really enjoyed meeting the many interesting and amazing people in my cohort,” says Renhui of her fellow MIRS students. “Learning about everyone’s research and practicum projects gives me so much joy!” Rehui’s research examines wildlife conservation narratives in central Africa in mainstream media, interacting with several different academic disciplines (political ecology, socio-cultural anthropology, political science, public policy, gender studies, etc). She is interested in finding out how people tell conservation stories, and also in reading between the lines to see what remains untold in these stories.
After graduation, Renhui’s next step is to take a break from school for a few months before exploring her employment opportunities in the higher education or NGO sphere, focusing on environmental or social justice education projects. In the longer term, Renhui hopes to remain engaged in the issues surrounding environmental justice and social justice and how these themes are realized in the workspace.