Professor’s Work Brings African Students to AUNE

Bernadette Arakwiye, the first female Rwandan student in conservation biology at AUNE, began her studies this fall, with scholarship help from International Women’s Peace scholarship and the Diane Fossey Gorilla Foundation. “In Rwanda, I mostly work with men, in the field and in administration,” said Beth Kaplin, core faculty member in Environmental Studies. “It is not so common for women to continue on past undergraduate, especially in science. So to work with these young women in Rwanda and see them come up to become PhDs is so exciting.”

Kaplin recently received a third round of funding from the MacArthur Foundation for a project focused on training teachers, revising curriculum and developing an exchange of teachers and students between AUNE and the Albertine Rift universities.

Two other Rwandan students are also studying at AUNE: Apollinaire William, a doctoral candidate in environmental studies, and Yves Pacifique Gakunde, a master’s student in ES’ sustainable development and climate change concentration. An ES doctoral student from Malawi, Joseph Mlotha, is studying at AUNE and Samuel Werihke, an ES doctoral student from Uganda, will be doing research in Rwanda. The first Rwandan doctoral student, Tharcisse Ukizitambara, finished his degree with Kaplin two years ago.

“These folks will return to the Rift and contribute to building the country’s and region’s capacity for conservation work,” Kaplin said.

A visiting scholar from the National University of Rwanda, Jean Pierre Kabuyenge, spent October at AUNE, observing teaching and research in the ES Department. “Antioch’s approach to teaching and working with its graduate students serves as a strong model for our work in the Albertine Rift,” Kaplin said. “I think it’s a way to develop teaching and leadership skills for my colleagues at National University of Rwanda. This should serve to develop this instructor’s capacity for teaching and conducting research so he may be a stronger member of the university.”

Several AUNE students and graduates now work in the region, including Robin Martino, Tiffanie Meekins and Mlotha.