International Studies & Programs

Home > African Alumni and Friends Network

Alumni Feature

Website_Feature_RileyEmily_PhotoCropped.jpgDr. Emily Riley

While doing my doctorate in anthropology at Michigan State University, the African Studies Center was my home. I owe a great deal to them not only in terms of funding through FLAS, but through the moral and academic support of the staff, fellow Africanist students, and professors. Beginning with the late Dr. James Pritchett who I owe a great deal to in terms of my intellectual development, John Metzler who gave me my first job working on the Exploring Africa online program, and Lisa Fruge and other ASC staff members for making me feel welcome. I have since worked more with Director Jamie Monson since receiving my doctoral degree in 2016 in my capacity as the secretary for the Association of African Studies Programs. The AASP gathers together African Studies Centers from institutions such as MSU across the country. In 2017, I took a position as the Assistant Director for the Kansas African Studies at the University of Kansas. In 2019, I accepted a position as Assistant Professor and Researcher in the Center for Asian and African Studies (CEAA) at El Colegio de México in Mexico City, Mexico. CEAA is the premier center for Asian and African Studies in Latin America. At the college I teach courses on the introduction to African Studies as well as joint classes on gender and the nation from an African and Asian perspective. I am currently working on my book regarding women in politics in Senegal.


Dr. Steve Sharra

MSU introduced me to the idea of a teacher educator; someone who educates future teachers. MSU also introduced to me the idea of curriculum theory and educational policy as important concepts in educational research and practice. This enabled me to identify myself as a teacher, teacher educator and education policy analyst. Pretty much everything I have done since my MSU days has been in teaching, teacher education, curriculum and educational policy, in national and global contexts.

I completed my Ph.D. in 2007, from the Department of Teacher Education, in the MSU College of Education. The program was at the time called Curriculum, Teaching and Educational Policy. The chair of my dissertation committee was Professor Jack Schwille, and my supervisor was Dr. Lynn Fendler. Upon completion of my program I became an Academic Adviser and Visiting Assistant Professor in the Peace and Justice Studies specialization. It was housed in the Department of Philosophy, and was co-managed with the Department of Anthropology.

In May of 2010 I returned to Malawi to work on the Malawi Teacher Professional Development Support (MTPDS) project, a Malawi Government project funded by USAID. The project ended in 2013, and I became Country Director for Link Community Development Malawi, a non-governmental organisation implementing a number of projects in school improvement, school inspection and supervision, and girls’ education.

From December 2014 to December 2015 I took a sabbaticant position as lecturer in the Department of Languages and Social Sciences Education, in the Faculty of Education at the University of Botswana. Upon returning to Malawi, I became a senior lecturer in the Department of Education, in the Faculty of Education at the Catholic University of Malawi. I was also Director of Research and Publications.

In March 2019 I joined the African Institute for Development Policy (AFIDEP), as Senior Research and Policy Analyst and head of the Transformative Education and Skills Development priority area. In June 2020 I left AFIDEP and I am currently doing independent work in institutional capacity strengthening, covid-19 and education, and researching decolonial thought in curriculum theory, knowledge production and anti-racism education.

I am a member of the Malawi Civil Society National Reference Group (CSNRG) for the United Nations Spotlight Initiative on ending violence against women and girls, and also a member of the Malawi team for the Knowledge Information Exchange (KIX) Regional Education Hub for Eastern, Southern and West Africa. I have recently been appointed as a member of the Directors of the Board for The Rosemary Pencil Foundation in New York and will begin my term on 1st January 2021. I am former President of the Malawi Writers Union, and author of an award-winning children’s novel, Fleeing the War. I am also an Honorary Fellow in Writing in the University of Iowa International Writing Program, former writer-in-residence in the University of Iowa International Programs, and an alumnus of the Programme for African Leadership at the London School of Economics. I blog at Afrika Aphukira and tweet at @stevesharra. I am based in Lilongwe, Malawi.