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West Chester Faculty to Spend Winter Session in Kenya

Inspired by one of their former students, faculty provide training to Kenyan village

December 21, 2012

Kenya Trip
Allison Turner, her husband Andrew, and Jeff Osgood

In lieu of teaching classes on campus this winter session, a team of West Chester University faculty will be traveling more than 8,000 miles in early January to the village of Angiro in southwestern Kenya.

Inspired by a young Kenyan woman and 2010 graduate of the University’s Public Administration program, the three professors will join their former student in her native village to offer their expertise in economic development, micro-financing, organic farming and hygiene.

“Service is important to the faculty teaching in the Master’s in Public Administration (M.P.A.) program,” explains program director and political scientist Jeffrey Osgood. “Leveraging our skills and expertise in ways that benefit the community where we live, as well as globally, is a commitment that’s been adopted by our profession.”

Osgood points to the M.P.A. graduate Anne Okelo as an inspirational example of that commitment.

Following her graduation from West Chester’s program in 2010, Okelo, applied what she learned in non-profit administration, securing funding to construct a well that now provides Angiro access to fresh water. Not only has the well significantly reduced the incidents of cholera deaths in the village, but it also is providing the community the ability to grow its own crops. Okelo, who has since returned to Angiro to work on other projects there, is the subject of a documentary, Well of Dreams.

A member of West Chester’s faculty since 2009, Jeffrey Osgood is associate director of the University’s Center for Social and Economic Policy Research within the College of Business and Public Affairs, serving businesses, community agencies and government with research in health, economic development and outreach.  His collaborative research efforts with other universities and municipal entities have supported a variety of ventures in higher education, health care, human resources and non-profit management. 

This past year, Osgood was included among an elite group of scholars in the Fulbright Specialists Roster, a national program which places leaders from higher education and industry in global collaborations that strengthen the positions of U.S. institutions.

Also part of the team travelling to Kenya are assistant professors of political science Allison Turner and Jeremy Phillips, both of whom teach in the M.P.A. program. Allison will have the opportunity to apply her experience working with non-profit organizations and Phillips will be providing training in public finance, specifically financing small businesses. Accompanying the faculty will be Allison’s husband, Andrew, an organic farmer who practices a locally based model of agriculture and food distribution.

In addition to offering their expertise, the faculty will be bearing gifts: 50 soccer balls that were purchased for the village children by West Chester University’s Foundation and dozens of kits containing sanitary pads, HIV/AIDS prevention information and information on sexual and reproductive health for young women in the village. Created by the organization, Huru International – “huru” meaning freedom in Swahili –  the kits, which were funded by West Chester University faculty, give at-risk girls the freedom to stay in school.