Aga Khan University has embarked on an ambitious long-term program of educational investment across East Africa. A rising Africa is outgrowing many of its traditional institutions, particularly in graduate education. In the coming years, the University plans to establish seven new graduate professional schools each driven by an absolute commitment to quality.
These centers of excellence will help create a new generation of professionals who will go on to become ethical, innovative leaders — dedicated to social responsibility and able to make a lasting impact on their countries and the region.
The Graduate School of Media and Communications will be the first. Planning began in 2007 with a thinking group on Media Studies comprised of leading academics and practicing professionals. Their work was driven by two key insights: (1) that the media scene in East Africa is rapidly diversifying, with traditional print, electronic and digital media all playing a part, and (2) that, while there is much to learn from developed world models, the developing world must chart a course that reflects its unique conditions.
Beginning in 2016, the Graduate School of Media and Communications will offer a Master of Arts in Multimedia Journalism whose curriculum reflects a considerable contribution from Dr Peter Mwesige, executive director of the African Centre for Media Excellence and former head of the Department of Mass Communication at Makerere University, and Professor David Klatell, former dean of the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University. An executive-style programme of Professional Development and Continuing Education launched in early 2015. By early 2016, the school plans to offer an Executive Masters in Media Innovation and Leadership, focused on senior media managers.
Market surveys were conducted to test the demand for these degrees. Local consultants provided valuable guidance in both the design of the programs and their execution.
The result is a curriculum and vision that puts a premium on hands-on, practical instruction in a state-of-the-art multi-media setting, coupled with an over-arching emphasis on ethics and law and the fostering of specialty expertise in issues of particular relevance to East Africa.
Our target market is, in the first instance, early/mid-career practicing professionals from Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi. Suitably qualified and motivated students from outside East Africa will also be considered. Ideally, the work of our “students” will be published or broadcast by their employers or others allied with the school.
Our model is learning-by-doing at the side of the best in the business. Our “just in time” faculty, brought in (sometimes digitally) from North America, Europe and Africa, will rival those of the world’s best universities. As a magnet for talented professionals from across the globe, GSMC will offer the opportunity to forge the kinds of connections that open up new horizons and transform careers.
In the years ahead, the Graduate School of Media and Communications will move to an ultra-modern media center on Peponi Road, steps from our present facility. It will be the outward face of our inward journey — and of East Africa’s media transformation.