Dr. Caroline Kingori, an Associate Professor and Interim Associate Dean for Research within Ohio University’s College of Health Sciences and Professions, has been awarded a Visiting Professor Fellowship in Kenya.
Later this year, Kingori will depart for Kenyatta University to support academic activities and work on public health education and research. For Kingori, who was born and raised in Nairobi, Kenya, this opportunity has been years in the making. Her project will last roughly 80 days, September to December 2021.
The fellowship is offered by The Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA). The organization provides various opportunities between African scholars in the Diaspora and those in the continent to collaborate, as well as enhance cooperation among African Universities and those in the West. CODESRIA aims at strengthening teaching and research in social sciences and humanities in higher education in Africa.
“I have always been interested in enhancing both research and educational capacity within public health in Africa,” Kingori said.
This fellowship allows her to do just that, as she will be working at the Kenyatta University’s School of Public Health, Department of Population, Reproductive Health and Community Resource Management.
“Given my interests in reproductive and sexual health, I was drawn to this university because they recently developed this new department in 2018. Also, there’re a lot of opportunities for growth in their curricular and research priorities,” Kingori said.
She added that the department’s goal is to be innovative and dynamic in training professionals, producing high caliber research, and strengthening community engagement.
While working at Kenyatta University, Dr. Kingori will undertake projects such as developing a certificate program in reproductive health, advising graduate students and developing proposals for research projects among youth in the area of reproductive and sexual health. Her partner is Dr. Margaret Keraka, the Dean of the School of Public Health.
Dr. Kingori’s role in this fellowship was spurred by her connections to other African academics. “I have folks who (I know) in academia from the Diaspora. We check in often to see what we are doing to contribute to the advancement of the continent,” Dr. Kingori said. “A lot of skill and knowledge is in the United States and we try to find opportunities to take that back to Africa.”
It was through these connections that she was made aware of this opportunity. Once her colleagues were funded for similar work, it was on her radar. However, Ohio University played a significant role as well. Dr. Kingori works with the Center for International Studies (CIS) as an affiliate faculty and this fellowship allowed her to further CIS’s goals of building international connections. In addition, Dean Leite had been very supportive of her global health work and submitted a recommendation letter on her behalf for this fellowship.
Ohio University has had a previous relationship with Kenya and many faculty members from across the university have worked in Kenya in years past. However, Kenya is a new landing place for a CHSP faculty member where this fellowship is concerned. Dr. Kingori hopes this will enhance continued partnerships between Kenyatta University and Ohio University.
This project will not be Kingori’s first time working in her home country. She has been working in Kenya since her Ph.D. project in 2011, and she has returned nearly every year to engage in research as well as other collaborative opportunities in Kenya and other African countries such as Botswana and Ghana.
Dr. Michele Morrone, a professor and department chair within CHSP’s Department of Social and Public Health, has nothing but praise for Dr. Kingori as she sets to embark on this project.
“This enhances Dr. Kingori’s professional growth, but the work she has done internationally in her time at OHIO has enhanced our curriculum and opportunities for students as well.” Dr. Morrone said. “The fellowship is a wonderful recognition of her work in Kenya.”
Dr. Morrone added this particular role comes with an international prominence that will greatly benefit OHIO.
Importantly, Dr. Kingori noted that this fellowship is not a one-way transaction. She will be learning just as much as she’s teaching.
“I’m hoping to learn … how the education system works there. From my higher education perspective, I want to learn what it takes to teach and engage in research … in that university, but I want to learn from them what their best practices are. I hope to bring back those practices to the United States,” Dr. Kingori said.