Dinner and Special Guest Scholar Enhance Understanding of Boko Haram
For Richard Joseph, Northwestern University’s well-known political science professor and an expert on African politics, the classroom is only one setting for learning. Every quarter he invites students to his home near campus for dinner. This quarter, for his course Boko Haram and the Nigerian Predicament, offered in the School of Professional Studies, he provided students with a rare opportunity: Dr. Ibrahim Hassan, a senior lecturer in religious studies at the University of Jos in Nigeria, joined the dinner and gave a talk afterwards. Dr. Hassan is visiting Northwestern as a Fulbright African Research Scholar.
“I favor a ‘hands-on’ approach, and I really get to know my students,” Joseph says. “It was a chance to have a nice meal in a relaxed setting and talk intimately about the issues with a Nigerian scholar.”
Although he is a full-time faculty member in Northwestern’s Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, Joseph is teaching the course for the School of Professional Studies this quarter. As with his undergraduate courses, he first establishes a context for the complexities of African politics, religion and culture with in-depth historical and theoretical literature as well as the latest writings.
“I expect students to read, and I insist that they ground their scholarly contributions in the published material,” he says. “But discussing issues outside of the classroom is an important part of my approach. Students see another side of me, and often they feel more comfortable asking probing questions.”
The recipient of numerous fellowships and awards, Joseph has devoted his scholarly career to the study of politics and governance in Africa with a special focus on democratic transitions, state building, political economy and conflict resolution. His recent essays and media commentaries can be found at africaplus.wordpress.com.