We are excited to announce the signing of our new Memorandum of Understanding with Université Catholique La Sapientia (UCS Goma) Goma in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), following the visit of the UCS Goma’s Rector Father Innocent Nyirindekwe. Following the general assembly IFCU meeting at Boston College, Fr. Nyirindekwe arranged a trip to Seton Hall on Thursday, August 11, to discuss some ways in which our institutions might collaborate in the future. He is a bilingual speaker of Italian and French. He met with members of the Office of the Provost and discussed our international initiatives. His visit was assisted by graduate student Theresah Oduro, an international student from Ghana who studied at the University of Nantes, Sciences Po Toulouse and the University of Toulouse-Jean Jaurès in France. Ms. Oduro, a student pursuing her MA in Diplomacy and International Relations, is native English-speaker who honed advanced French-language skills through her education in France, and she assisted in our communication.
Fr. Nyirindekwe participated in a guided tour of the South Orange Campus led by two members of the Blue Crew, Kacie Wright who is fluent in Italian and Elsie Tierney, a French major. We are lucky that Fr. Nyirindekwe’s visit was over the summer, as both students are studying abroad this fall.
Fr. Nyirindekwe explained to members of the Office of the Provost the importance of the institution he has led since its founding in 2011 as an academic institute in a region experiencing conflict. Under Fr. Nyirindekwe’s leadership, UCS Goma expanded into a university that educates servant leaders in the DRC. He explained his hope to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with Seton Hall, and we agreed that this aligned with our Mission to engage with global partners. Fr. Nyirindekwe described a particular interest in opportunities for UCS students to visit Seton Hall and for students who have earned masters-level degrees to take doctoral courses online in disciplines where UCS Goma does not yet offer doctoral programs. We discussed the possibility of connecting faculty and the need for faculty development that might be accomplished through Seton Hall’s new International Center, perhaps during the summer. Seton Hall and UCS Goma share programs in Communication, Business Management and Administration, and Education. We are pleased to announce that in September 2022 both universities signed a Memorandum of Understanding to foster exchanges, collaborations, and other joint academic activities.
Our newest Core Fellow, Dr. Roger Alfani met Fr. Nyirindekwe while conducting research on Peace and Conflict in DRC in 2013. Hearing of our planned collaborations, Dr. Alfani suggests that this developing connection promises to be “a fantastic project for Congolese students, especially amidst an ongoing national academic reformation with very limited resources.” “In a city that has endured several deadly conflicts in the past decades including volcanic eruptions,” observes Dr. Alfani, “this project and collaboration are very timely with mutual benefits to stakeholders.” Not only will these developments benefit students that are interested in conflict/peace studies, humanitarian work, the role of state, non-state, regional and international actors (towards peace), but they will also offer an opportunity for potential collaborations between faculty members of both institutions (e.g., research methodologies, technology, collaborative publications, conferences, etc.) As an alumni and former adjunct at the School of Diplomacy, I am sure both diplomacy students and colleagues will be thrilled about this initiative. Knowing the two academic environments, here at SHU and in the DRC, Alfani notes that “this plan is a perfect illustration of a project that fosters at least three intersecting core values: (1) catholic intellectual tradition in promoting human dignity through education, (2) international experience, and (3) interdisciplinary work.”