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Collaborative symposium welcomes ASU partnership with Kenyatta University

Beatrice A. Bunyasi of Kenyatta University speaks during a symposium at ASU in April. She has orange hair and is wearing a button-up shirt. She stands at a podium with a laptop sitting on it.

Chairwoman Beatrice A. Bunyasi of the Department of Early Childhood and Special Needs at Kenyatta University speaks during a symposium at ASU in April. Bunyasi presented on research and training regarding special needs education. Photo by Kimberly Koerth

May 13, 2019

Less than a year after the groundwork was first laid for a collaboration between Arizona State University and Kenyatta University in Nairobi, Kenya, a delegation of professors and faculty leaders from Kenyatta visited Arizona for a symposium inaugurating the partnership.

Kenyatta is the second-ranked university in Kenya and has more than 70,000 students.

In May of last year, School of International Letters and Cultures Director Nina Berman, School of Social Transformation Associate Director Beth Blue Swadener and College of Health Solutions lecturer Paul Quinn traveled to Kenya to explore possible partnerships with other universities. These partnerships could yield study abroad opportunities, research collaborations and exchanges of faculty and students.

A collaboration agreement between ASU and Kenyatta was signed in July by ASU Executive Vice President and University Provost Mark Searle and Kenyatta Vice Chancellor Paul Wainaina. The first step of the collaboration was a weeklong visit from April 13–19, 2019 that brought several Kenyatta University representatives to the ASU campus.

The five Kenyatta University representatives were Chairwoman Beatrice A. Bunyasi of the Department of Early Childhood and Special Needs, Samson Ikinya Kariuki of the School of Education, Dean Harun M. Kimani of the School of Health Sciences, Dean Donald K. Kombo of the School of Education and Dean Francis W. Ngokonyo of the School of Engineering and Technology.

In the days leading up to the symposium, the Kenyatta representatives were treated to tours of several ASU campuses and meetings with ASU officials. They learned about the concept of the New American University; discussed ventures such as study abroad, the Global Futures Initiative and EdPlus; and met with a large number of potential collaborators in their various disciplines.

The visit culminated in a one-day symposium that was well attended. The visitors discussed topics ranging from vocational education to digital network coverage to lab testing at health clinics.

Bunyasi, for example, presented on research and training regarding special needs education, noting that Kenya has a policy of mainstreaming disability, or including students in classes with their peers whenever possible and providing them with the services they need to learn. She also addressed the differences between ASU and Kenyatta’s disability services and campus accessibility.

“We have Arizona here as our international linkage,” she said. “If we can make an impact, it will be long lasting.”

The symposium was organized by Berman and Swadener — who had previously done research and worked in Kenya — along with Cassandra Cotton, a postdoctoral scholar with the T. Denny Sanford School of Social and Family Dynamics. It was co-sponsored by nearly a dozen ASU colleges and schools.

“I am very excited about all the connections made during the Kenyatta University leaders’ visit and the potential for involving colleagues and students in several programs in the coming years,” Swadener said.

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