The Tavistock Institute (London) appoints Mr Adebayo Clement Akomolafe as Visiting Scientist
Covenant University to launch revolutionary program called ‘Transforming Thinking’
There is a critical need to re-imagine what education could mean today – especially as it relates to the dynamically changing ideas about the purpose and power of the ‘university’. Covenant University is now meeting this need – by blazing the trail in the articulation of excitingly new initiatives to truly enrich the discourse on higher education innovation in the country and, indeed, the continent of Africa
Recently, on May 8, 2012, Mr Adebayo Clement Akomolafe, from the Department of Psychology, was formally received by the management and leadership of The Tavistock Institute, London. A highly reputable institution with a history of more than 60 years, the Tavistock Institute of Human Relations is a not-for-profit organisation which applies social science to contemporary issues and problems.
Mr Akomolafe was invited as Visiting Scientist in recognition of his role in articulating the Workshop on Alternative Research Paradigms and Indigenous Knowledge Production (WARP), which was hosted by the Department of Psychology in February 2011. With the prestigious award of Visiting Scientist, Mr Akomolafe joins the ranks of other social scientists across the globe, and may be one of the youngest ever to receive the invitation. His task in London was to serve as Covenant University’s Faculty Liaison to the Institute – to explore ways to concretize the proposal for the creation of new, paradigm-shifting platforms in Covenant University, to build linkages with the Institute, to create templates and programs for formal exchange, and to work out strategies to implement the co-creation of the Tavistock Institute of Africa Relations on Covenant University’s campus.
Based on his critique of the historicity of knowledge production and his desire to explore new fields in action research, Mr Akomolafe, then Secretary on the Organizing Committee (2011), conceived the Workshop as a forum to reimagine research and to prod new sensitivities for qualitative research paradigms and indigenous/local knowledges. WARP 2011 was well attended by renowned Professors around the globe – as well as Ms. Coreene Archer, from the Tavistock Institute. Following the Workshop, he created a proposal for the creation of the Tavistock Institute of Africa Relations, and invited the Institute to enter into a partnership with Covenant University.
Led by the Vice Chancellor, Professor Aize Obayan, the University, on February 15, 2012, formally signed a Memorandum of Understanding with The Tavistock Institute.
At the Institute, Mr Akomolafe was formally welcomed by the CEO, Dr. Eliat Aram and Ms. Coreene Archer, the Operations Manager, who facilitated his entire itinerary and schedules. He was introduced to the staff at the Institute, and was assigned an office space. Several high-powered meetings were held with different departments at the Institute.
The highlight of these interactions was the co-creation of the ‘Transforming Thinking’ programme, the first of its kind on most of the African continent. Articulated between Mr Akomolafe and Ms Archer, the ‘Transforming Thinking’ program aims to use qualitative methods and reflective social science approaches to encourage critical thinking. The programme aims to reveal and explore connections between what is learnt in the lecture theatre and the lived experiences of students and the communities surrounding the campus walls. Students will be supported to question the purpose of learning and how the social sciences can be used to improve
quality of life and address contemporary social problems. Students will be equipped with a ‘tool kit’ of practical and robust qualitative methods including life story and narrative analysis, participant observation, situational analysis, intercultural dialogue, network and conflict mapping, and indigenous methods. These will be deployed by students in self-designed projects based in the community.
The Transforming Thinking programme will take students to communities, to the streets, where they can engage the world in order to solve its many crises.
The Transforming Thinking initiative (from now on, TT) will be jointly run by Covenant University and the Tavistock Institute, and is envisoned to begin next session. The Tavistock Project Manager for the TT programme, Ms Coreene Archer will organize the resource base from the Institute – which will include a Chief Facilitator, Dr. Sadie King (a British anthropologist and senior associate with TIHR, whose work cuts across Cameroon and Nigeria), Mr David Drabble (a researcher with the TIHR) and Ms Giorgia Iacopini (an action researcher with the TIHR).
The programme eminently concretizes Covenant University’s deep ‘departure’ philosophy, and rests admirably within the overarching aim to redefine higher education in Africa.