Today, as in the past, merging theory and praxis, classroom and community, academic excellence and social activism remains the hallmark of an MSU education. The value placed on 'real world' engagement saturates the campus ambience. Over 15,200 MSU students enroll in local service-learning opportunities each year. MSU is among the country's largest producers of Peace Corps volunteers and leads the nation in study abroad participation among public universities. This year students will participate in over 300 MSU study abroad programs in 60 countries, on all continents (including Antarctica). 27 of those opportunities are in Africa. MSU has the leading and largest faculty of African Studies in the nation, producing more PhD dissertations on Africa and conducting more development work in Africa than any other university. Ours is a highly cooperative venture that produces a seamless web of opportunities for faculty and students to jointly engage Africa in the classroom, via extra-curricular cultural events, in social activities with local African community groups, in internships with social service agencies, in study abroad programming and, most especially, in conducting pragmatic and applied research in Africa. Thus, whereas Michigan State is a comprehensive university, with arguably the best African history program in the nation, broad offerings in the African humanities (Art, literature, film, music, dance, philosophy, religion) and strong programs in the social sciences, it remains ever mindful of its mandate to strive to discover practical uses for theoretical knowledge and to speed the diffusion of information from laboratories to classrooms to communities of need. The African Studies Center has played a key role in lowering the barriers between academic units between students and faculty, as well as coordinating and bringing into productive juxtaposition talent from across campus.
With 50 years of experience as the judge, the African Studies Center has long been a good steward, contributing greatly to the nation's supply of speakers of the less commonly taught languages, staffing the highest ranks of governmental and non-governmental organizations focused on Africa, producing the plans and policies that have guided development efforts globally, trained successive cohorts of top scholars, designed and disseminated the materials that have informed generations of American citizens. The current plan, focused primarily on reinventing our curriculum and African language program, recruiting a new generation of students in science, technology, engineering and health programs to African studies, and maintaining and reinvigorating the consortium of African National Resource Centers will increase ASC's contribution to an informed citizenry and underpinning our nation's global competitiveness.
African Studies courses attract well over 3,000 enrollees per year. An additional 300 students enroll in MSU courses conducted on the African continent. With 9 student organizations focused exclusively on Africa the campus is daily animated with talks, films, cultural performances and lively debates about African social, political and economic processes. The ASC itself sponsors upward of 50 lectures and symposia each year attracting well over 2,000 attendees. With ASC support, the MSU Museum and art galleries produced 10 major Africa exhibits this past year, attracting thousands of mid-Michigan residents to campus. Nearly 1/3 of all graduate students, in history, focus on Africa, having selected MSU in large part because of ASC's reputation. The same dynamics bring to campus top quality students in anthropology, economics, education, agriculture and natural resources, crop and soil sciences, literature and philosophy. We lead the nation in the production of PhD doctoral dissertations on Africa with 316 in 1988-2008 alone. Likewise, our rates of success with Fulbright, Fulbright-Hays, SSRC, NSF, Ford, Rockefeller, Compton and other grants are equally impressive. Our graduates are well represented on the faculties of all the major African studies programs in this country, in business and governance and occupying the upper ranks of administrations here and on the African continent.
By every conceivable measure our undergraduate and graduate programs rank among the top in the nation: competitiveness in national grants (Fulbright IIE, Fulbright DRA, SSRC, Wenner Gren, Ford, Rockefeller, Carnegie), admission into top-tier graduate programs, selection into prestigious internships and summer programs, and professional marketability. MSU leads the nation in the production of PhDs on Africa. From federal agencies, to global institutions (such as the UN, WHO, FAO, etc.), to top research and teaching universities, here and abroad, Michigan State University graduates are highly sought after.