John Kiweewa, assistant professor of mental health counseling at St. John Fisher College, was awarded a fellowship by the Carnegie African Diaspora Fellowship Program to work with Makerere University in Uganda as they refine and develop curriculum around mental health counseling.
While in Uganda, Kiweewa’s native country, he will work with Kajumba Mayanja, chair of the Department of Mental Health Counseling, which is housed in the School of Psychology at Makerere, to strengthen the graduate counseling and psychology programs through curriculum review and redesign and highlight best practices in multi-disciplinary and cross-cultural clinical interventions.
Kiweewa’s project is part of a broader initiative that will pair 55 CADFP scholars with one of 43 higher education institutions and collaborators in Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda. The program, now in its fifth year, was designed host African-born scholars to participate in project work and research collaborations, build capacity at the host institutions, and develop long-term, mutually-beneficial relationships between universities in Africa and the U.S. and Canada. It is funded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York and managed by the Institute of International Education in collaboration with U.S. International University-Africa in Nairobi, Kenya, which coordinates the activities of the Advisory Council.
“I cannot thank the Carnegie Foundation enough for providing an opportunity for African scholars in Diaspora to make systematic contributions to our native homes on the African continent,” said Kiweewa. “It is essential for the continent to make developments through education. This platform for us to make formal contributions to our home countries is incredible and we are already seeing positive results.”
Kiweewa said the project builds on work he did with Makerere University two years ago as a visiting professor through the Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa. He will host workshops for doctoral students to present their research and receive feedback from faculty panels. Kiweewa also serves as an external examiner as a member of several students’ doctoral dissertation committees and will use this visit as an opportunity to meet with them one-on-one to discuss their work and progress. Through his position at Fisher, Kiweewa has access to the latest research and literature on mental health counseling theory and practice, and is able to share those resources with students at Makerere. Kiweewa and Mayanja hope this partnership can grow into an exchange where students from either institution visit the other, and where faculty can collaborate on research efforts, as well.
In addition, and perhaps most importantly, Kiweewa will join a team of faculty who are developing a proposal for a crisis and trauma center at the University. This center will be the first of its kind on the African continent and will offer faculty the opportunity to conduct research on crisis and trauma, engage in the training of mental health practitioners and provide treatment to individuals who have experienced crisis or trauma, according to Kiweewa.
“There are very few individuals with trauma skills and we want to be able to train students or individuals in an effort to scale up the availability of professionals who can do this work,” said Kiweewa. “Being able to provide crisis and trauma treatment enables students to actually see clients and practice their skills. And, for those issues that are beyond their skillset or resources, the center can act as a referral source for other community agencies.”