The African Studies Center (ASC) at U-M has a deep commitment to fostering collaborative research and scholarship in Africa, and with its scholars. Through our seed grant competition, ASC supports early-stage joint research projects bringing together U-M faculty and researchers affiliated with universities on the continent. We report here on the work that has been supported by recent ASC seed grants to showcase the breadth of this scholarship and to encourage other U-M-based scholars to consider applying for a Seed Grant award with one or more colleagues on the continent. 

Michelle Munro-Kramer is an assistant professor at the Department of Health Behavior and Biological Sciences at the University of Michigan. Through the African Social Research Initiative (ASRI), Munro-Kramer was awarded a seed grant for her collaborative work titled “Creating a Network for Gender-Based Violence Prevention at Universities across Sub-Saharan Africa.” Munro-Kramer and her collaborators in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Ghana, and the USA, will “create a GBV research and prevention network to conduct initial research on GBV knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors among university students in sub-Saharan Africa.”

The research team has recognized that “rates of GBV in sub-Saharan Africa are higher than in other regions,” and that “there is a recognized need for programs that explicitly address GBV among university students in sub-Saharan Africa. However, currently, universities are working independently to address this problem. There is a need for a systematic evaluation and a network to share best practices, lessons learned, and resources.”

Speaking to ASC about this research, Munro-Kramer discussed how the ASC grant will assist the researchers to build a collaborative network in order to address this severe issue across various African universities. In order to establish and build this network, the research team will begin by conducting qualitative interviews and a diagnostic survey to better understand the issue of gender-based violence at the following universities: University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa; University of Cape Coast, Ghana; Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital & Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Ghana; Obafemi Awolowo University, Nigeria; National University of Science and Technology, Zimbabwe. 

Not only will this work identify context-specific problems that each university faces regarding gender-based violence, but it will also seek to learn which successful measures individual universities have implemented to counteract it on campuses. This, in turn, will allow the research team to gain insight into how best to address the issue. Munro-Kramer pointed out that there is a paucity of data on gender-based violence in African contexts, and when available, it is conducted on the national level. This means that the problem on African university campuses may get overlooked. Through this research, Munro-Kramer and her collaborators will seek to provide guidelines on the university level and posit programming on campuses to address gender-based violence. This will help to “establish a formal Sub-Saharan University GBV Research and Prevention Network to share needs, resources, and best practices to improve the research environment and strengthen individual and institutional research capabilities across network partners as well as expand to other interested institutions.”