Teams from W&M and Chuka University in summer 2019. We worked together to better understand the effects of climate change on farmers around Mount Kenya and the potential efficacy of mobile agricultural insurance products. Photo taken in Chuka University plant nursery.

At William & Mary, I teach a range of courses that focus on African politics, comparative politics, comparative political development and mixed methods for the study of conflict and development. I am also currently co-teaching a COLL 100 class with my colleague, Professor Iyabo Obasanjo. Iyabo and I were awarded W. Taylor Reveley, III Interdisciplinary Faculty Fellowships to facilitate interdisciplinary teaching. Our Africa Rising? course builds on our respective expertise in health sciences and political science to expose students to a diverse range of subjects on governance, public health, gender, technology and entertainment across countries in Africa.

My Mixed Methods class seeks to combine in-class instruction on experimental methods and nested research design at W&M in the spring semester with applied research on one of my research projects over the summer. In the past, students have worked as project research assistants in Tanzania, Kenya and Liberia, collaborating with in-country partners, such as REPOA and Innovations for Poverty Action in Tanzania, Chuka University in Kenya, and Center for Applied Research and Training in Liberia. I have also worked with and mentored students who have travelled to Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Uganda and Rwanda.

For one student’s reflection on such experiences, please see this blog post by former W&M student, Ethan Harrison. Also the photos in the slide show represent a number of students I have been fortunate to mentor, advise and work with at W&M.

I also serve as an honors thesis adviser for students interested in research on African politics, comparative politics or political economy of development. This has included three award-winning theses:  

  • Will Smith ’14, “The Impact of Solar Lights on the Individual Welfare and Fishing Productivity of Liberian Fishermen” (Co-Winner of the 2014 W. Warner Moss Award for best thesis in government).
  • Ammon Frederick Harteis ’19, “Who Does The Dying? ‘Martial Races’ and War Time Unit Deployment in the Indian Army” (Winner of the 2019 W. Warner Moss Award for best thesis in government).
  • Elizabeth Sutterlin ’20, “Flipping the Kill-Switch: Why Governments Shut Down the Internet,” (Winner of the 2020 Research Prize in International Relations for best thesis)

Finally, I am the Director of the Africa Research Center and Co-Director of the Digital Inclusion and Governance Lab. In addition to employing rigorous scientific analysis and field-based research to meaningfully advance key academic and policy debates on Africa and digital tech, respectively, these labs aim to provide students with greater opportunities to discuss, debate, and analyze contemporary development issues in the these research fields. In spring 2020, ARC hosted the inaugural W&M Africa Network Conference co-convened by Shanda Cooper ’06, Redeit Hailu ’24, Mayada Hassan ’22, and myself to strengthen connections between W&M alums, students and faculty from Africa or interested in the region. To learn more about the W&M Africa Network and the inaugural ANC, please see this blog post by Redeit and Mayada.