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IRN Start Date: April 1, 2017

The African Diaspora International Research Network (ADIRN) is unique in that it focuses its attention and investigates research and best practices across countries where African descendants were historically and culturally dispersed during the transatlantic slave trade and/or different migration periods (e.g., the Caribbean region, Europe, Latin America, and North America). By all accounts, there has been a striking lack of research and best practices devoted to better understanding dispersed African descendant populations’ common challenges and experiences. Even less is known about whether there are best practices that might address some of the challenges. Yet, logically and intuitively, better understanding comparatively how dispersed populations navigated their locations in different and new worlds while developing art forms as modes of communication, interconnectedness, and education and economic uplift can hold great importance from a broader and integrated perspective for countries globally. This is particularly important because although the African diaspora population is generally less advantaged in many respects than the dominant populations of their resident nations, there are large differences in progress among their situations. Increased understanding of both commonalities and differences in experiences as shaped by different immigrant origins and societal practices of their resident societies across nations can provide useful possibilities and outcomes. Our ADIRN plans to focus on five main driving questions:

  •  What is a neo-definition of the African Diaspora in its current context?

  • Why is there a paucity of data on African descendant populations around the globe? What are powerful and positive practices that are happening across the Diaspora in economics, education, politics, and the arts that can be beneficial and shared, and why are the positive practices left unexplored?

  • What and how do we teach and how do students learn similarly across the African Diaspora about their commonalities and differences?

  • How can individuals and countries benefit from these positive lessons/discovered outcomes?

  • How do we use the gaps in economic and educational outcomes to globalize the struggle and influence social justice?


Additional underlining questions to be explored will be defined by the participants in the ADIRN. What is clear from our guiding questions is that our research will be interdisciplinary, inclusive of multiple voices and participants across countries, boundaries, and cultures, with a particular focus on the interconnectedness of educational, economic, and artistic challenges. We will build our ADIRN through connecting with colleagues and scholars across WERA but also through organizations that focus on comparative education and social research, e.g., Comparative and International Education Societies (CIES) across countries and the Association for the Study of the Worldwide African Diaspora (ASWAD). In order to interact and to have discussions regarding our research, we plan to digitally connect with colleagues across countries to gather voices and experiences using such methods as Skype meetings, conference calls, email discussions and also through Social Media— Facebook Chat groups, Twitter, Tumblr, and Instagram. And, we also intend to undertake formal projects on the status of the African diaspora such as educational differences among African diaspora populations and national populations both within countries and among them and the promising conditions and practices that account for differences. ADIRN Expected Outcomes During our initial discussions and planning meetings, we will build an archive of scholarship currently available on the African Diaspora across disciplines, countries, and related to our guiding questions. From this point and examination of data, we will begin drafting our first synthesis on the state of research on the African Diaspora, addressing our first two guiding research questions—neo-definition of the African Diaspora in its current context; and the paucity of data on African descendants globally. We will establish synthesis reports to respond to the research questions, our research questions will guide our synthesis reports. Once we complete our first synthesis, the state of research and best practices on the African Diaspora related to economic, education and artistic outcomes, each of our other three questions, will provide a different synthesis report. In order to augment our guiding research questions, we will collect socioeconomic and educational data from countries with attempts to obtain comparable measures. In order to advance new knowledge and best practices, we will pay particular attention to pedagogical practices that appear to advance student learning outcomes—are there comparative practices that might be replicable and scalable across countries? Given the common economic and educational challenges that African descendants face, this would be an important development. These findings would provide excellent opportunities for presentations at WERA conferences and other international conferences.



Dr. Kassie Freeman

African Diaspora Consortium (ADC)


Dr. Ernest Morrell

Teachers College

Columbia University


Leadership Cabinet

  • Dr. Henry M. Levin, Teachers College, Columbia University

  • Dr. Nicola Rollock, Birmingham University, UK

  • Dr. Paulo De Silva, Brazil, US, Department of State

  • Dr. Aurora Vergara Figuero, Icies University, Colombia

  • Dr. Duranda Greene, Bermuda College

  • Dr. Francois Verges, France


List of Participants

There are several scholars across WERA and other organizations who are conducting interesting scholarship across the African Diaspora. This IRN targeted scholars from some of the fifteen countries with the largest populations outside of Africa. In Latin America, e.g., Dr. Fabio Waltenberg, Economics of Education, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Dr. Aurora Vergara Figueroa, Sociology, Colombia; Dr. William Ackah, Higher Education, Birkbeck University, University of London, the UK; Dr. Nicola Rollock, Birmingham University, the UK; Dr. Kevin Hylton, Leeds Beckett University, the UK; Dr. Francois Verges, France; Mr. Emmanuel Tabi (doctoral student), University of Toronto; Dr. Selwyn Cudjoe, Afro-Caribbean Literature, Wellesley College. There are several scholars and AERA members in the USA who are also conducting research related to this topic: Dr. Joyce King, Georgia State University.


Click here for an updated participant list:


Click here for reports and/or activities of the IRN:

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