I contributed a post to HistPhi, a web publication on the history of the philanthropic and nonprofit sectors, based on my new book, Unequal Partners: American Foundations and Higher Education Development in Africa (Palgrave-MacMillan, 2016).
At a time when higher education is once again recognized as a driver of development and income growth, when knowledge economies requiring additional levels of education are displacing economies predicated on manufacturing, and in a context where higher education itself appears increasingly precarious and under dramatic pressures to adapt to new conditions, determining the role of global philanthropy seems a pressing challenge. Education is a critical element of development; societies require well-informed workers to drive progress. However, in universities’ quest for funding, the demands of donors can define institutional agendas. In my book, Unequal Partners: American Foundations & Higher Education Development in Africa, I examine the role of American philanthropic foundations in shaping university education in Africa over the last century. I discuss how new philanthropic trends are emerging from this historical context, the conditions under which philanthropy can be effective, the impasses that foundations often face abroad, and the updated situation of higher education in Africa.