Nigeria’s first Institute of Advanced Studies, IAS, will commence operation this month at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife, in Osun State, it was announced yesterday.
Prof. Jacob K. Olupona, who is championing the institute, is a professor of African Religious Traditions, Harvard Divinity School, and Professor of African and African American Studies in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, also of Harvard University.
He said yesterday, that; ‘’The IAS will offer postdoctoral programmes that will provide a new generation of scholars with the skills and resources necessary to effectively respond to the pressing demands of our rapidly changing higher educational system.”
According to him, “through a rigorous curriculum and with the dedicated support of distinguished scholars from leading African and Western universities, IAS will train its Fellows to become excellent university teachers, researchers, scholars, and public policy analysts who will effectively engage discussions on the challenges confronting our contemporary society in a globalized world.”
The major focus of this pioneering institute is mentorship within the academic community, Prof. Olupona explained.
The first activity of the IAS will coincide with its inauguration on July 24, 2017 when it will host a two-week residential summer seminar at Obafemi Awolowo University for pre-doctorate and recent post-doctorate students.
“The seminar will be a first-rate non-degree advanced level programme,” he said.
“The goal of this seminar, in keeping with the best academic traditions around the world, is to provide the IAS Fellows with critical training in theoretical and methodological approaches in their respective disciplines, as well as practical professional skills essential for success in the academy, such as information technology, writing and publishing in peer reviewed journals and presses, mentoring and networking, curriculum development, field work and archival research and entrepreneurship.”
Prof. Olupona said that seminar discussions and workshops will be run by scholars from the pool of the highly distinguished international academics who will continue to serve as mentors and supervisors to IAS Fellows after the conclusion of the seminar.
He added: “The institute will also serve as a venue for young scholars to enroll in a year-long programme during which they will receive specialized training that will allow them to turn their doctoral dissertation manuscripts into high quality publishable materials, such as peer-reviewed journal articles and academic books.
“In short, IAS Fellows will have access to the highest level of professional expertise and resources essential for success in an increasingly competitive global academic arena.”
As a critical element of IAS, the convener, Professor Olupona and the organizers of this summer seminar said they are excited about the potential contribution of this groundbreaking programme to the advancement of higher education in Nigeria.
“We look forward to a highly successful inaugural IAS summer seminar program in 2017,” he added.
The inaugural event of the IAS is expected to be opened by the Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osibajo, himself an accomplished academic. Prof. Temitope Ogunbodede, Vice Chancellor of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife, will be chief host.
Prof. Olupona had established the Olupona Foundation for Education, Equality and Peace in memory of his parents, Venerable Archdeacon and Mrs. Olupona, dedicated members of their community in Ondo State, who were deeply committed to educational advancement and religious dialogue and reconciliation in Nigeria.