The Center for African Development Policy Research is an interdisciplinary academic program that was established at Western Michigan University by Dr. Sisay Asefa in October 2000, and approved by the Board of Trustees in 2001 as the first international academic center in the human and social sciences. It evolved from the University's former interdisciplinary African studies program, which was supported by faculty in humanities and social sciences with interest in Africa.

A joint program of the College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Economics and the Haenicke Institute for Global Education, it fosters academic research by promoting collaboration between faculty and students from various WMU colleges and departments with an interest in Africa. The center also sponsors and organizes lectures, conferences, seminars, workshops and other special events that enhance global awareness and contribute to the understanding of cultural, political and socio-economic development in Africa.

Since its founding, the Center for African Development Policy Research has continued with the successful biennial International Conference on African Development.


The specific objectives of WMU's Center for African Development Policy Research are to:

  • Support seminars, workshops, conferences, discussions, working paper series, and other academic activities and programs that contribute to understanding of the socio-economic, political development, cultural, environmental and human development problems of Africa.

  • Coordinate and facilitate short-term training programs and seminars in collaboration with WMU academic departments and international institutions of higher education and research in Africa.

  • Pursue external grants and partnerships in order to implement the center's activities and objectives.

  • Facilitate mutually beneficial academic linkages and scholarly exchanges between WMU and institutions of higher education in Africa.

  • Contribute to WMU's mission of being a learner-centered research university with global reach by serving as a clearinghouse for student, faculty and visiting scholar research on international development in general and African development in particular.

  • Collaborate with institutions of higher education and research in Africa in the study of key areas of development such as economic development, democratic governance, business development and management, education, health and sustainable development, peace building and conflict resolution.

  • Maintain the online International Journal of African Development, which will publish peer-reviewed papers both from its conferences and open submissions.

  • Develop an interdisciplinary master’s degree in African development in collaboration with an African university.

  • Organize the Distinguished Scholar on African Development Lecture Series, which will involve discussion papers to promote dialogue among students, faculty and the public. The series will be aimed at enhancing cultural, political, socio-economic and global awareness.