AAI’s 8th Annual State of Education on Africa Conference

Thank you to everyone who joined us this year for Africa, the Global Climate Crisis, and Reparations, AAI’s 8th Annual State of Education on Africa conference! Our SOE conference took place virtually on Friday, January 20th, 2023 from 1PM-5:45PM EST. You can watch the conference video below or at https://youtu.be/ZUBO_8icHBE.

Watch the SOE Conference Recording

Following the 2023 theme of Africa, the Global Climate Crisis, and Reparations, our speakers discussed the interconnections between reparations and the climate crisis in Africa and the world at large. Linked below are the recommended readings and resources list from our conference speakers:

News reporting the global climate crisis largely obscures the history of injustices that created and sustain it. Alarmist headlines focus on the acceleration of CO2 emissions, extreme weather events, and the lack of political will to transform fossil-fueled economies. The result is a widespread sense of inevitable doom. However, a historically, socially scientific, and philosophically-grounded case is being made for reparations as an essential part of any global climate crisis solution. The argument is that reparations are necessary to remake the world at scale in order to stop the globally systemic “crisis multiplier” effect of human-induced climate change.

The theme of AAI’s 8th Annual SOE conference, Africa, the Global Climate Crisis, and Reparations, sets the stage for people of all ages and backgrounds to simultaneously draw lessons from world history and pursue practical approaches to achieving climate justice and repair. All registered conference attendees received a Professional Development Certificate in recognition of their participation.

Our annual SOE conference aims to reach a broad intellectually curious and socially conscious audience. The program is designed to offer something useful to students, parents, teachers, school administrators, academic scholars, social justice activists, leaders in philanthropy, and others eager to learn more—whether based in or outside the United States.

Follow us on social media to join the conversation and stay updated with AAI –

@aaiafrica       #SOE2023

Conference Program

1:00pm – 1:10pm EST Opening Remarks

Greetings and overview of the conference program, features, and theme Africa, the Global Climate Crisis, and Reparations.

Kofi Appenteng

AAI President

Mora McLean

AAI Historian

1:10pm – 1:15pm EST Student Voices – Youth Perspectives on Climate Change

Students from Harlem Village Academies express their views on climate change and reparations.

1:15pm – 2:00pm EST Keynote Speaker

To meet the necessary challenge of transforming K-12 education we must better serve historically marginalized students — exposing them to topical subjects such as climate change and reparations in ways that increase both their knowledge and achievement.

Dorinda Carter Andrews, Ed.D.

Chairperson and Professor,

College of Education, Michigan State University

Dorinda Carter Andrews is a professor and chairperson of the Department of Teacher Education at Michigan State University where she teaches courses on urban education, critical multiculturalism, and critical race theory. She holds degrees from Georgia Tech, Vanderbilt University, and Harvard University. Her research is broadly focused on Black education and racial equity and justice in P-20 learning environments. She utilizes critical racial and Black feminist/womanist frameworks and methodologies to examine issues of race, culture, and power in schools. Dr. Carter Andrews also works with school districts, universities, municipalities, corporations, and civic organizations on how to develop and maintain culturally responsive, inclusive, and equitable learning and work environments. She is a former industrial engineer, high school math teacher, and kindergarten teacher and has teaching experience in suburban, urban, charter, and independent schools.

2:00pm – 2:45pm EST Author Book Talk – Crossing the Stream

A starred Kirkus review described Crossing the Stream as a “richly textured contemporary story set in Ghana [that] highlights timely issues around the environment and exploitation of the poor…an immersive reading experience.”

Elizabeth-Irene Baitie

Children’s Book Author and Clinical Biochemist

with Brenda Randolph

Founder, Africa Access and Children’s Africana Book Awards

Elizabeth-Irene Baitie directs a medical laboratory, and writes fiction for children and young adults. Her multiple book awards include the Macmillan Writer’s Prize for Africa and the Burt Award for African Literature. In 2022, her children’s novel Crossing the Stream earned her the Children’s Africana Book Award (CABA) and praise from literary critics, including the following comments in a starred Kirkus review: “Richly textured… highlights timely issues around the environment and exploitation of the poor… Well-developed sense of place…an immersive reading experience.” Elizabeth-Irene lives in Accra with her husband, and is working on her ninth novel.

2:45pm – 2:50pm EST Intermission

2:50pm – 2:55pm EST Student Voices – Youth Perspectives on Climate Change & Reparations

2:55pm – 3:30pm EST Human Survival and Climate Change: Lessons from Africa’s Deep Past

Early human beings in the geographical space that we now refer to as “Africa” confronted different versions of climate change by embracing cooperation — as both a mode of survival and cultural value.

Shayla Monroe, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Scholar, University of California Santa Barbara

Dr. Shayla Monroe Is an anthropological archaeologist specializing in the social zooarchaeology of the Nile Valley and the Sahara, the political ecology of African pastoralists and complex societies, and the spread of pastoralist networks across North Africa and the Sahel. Monroe earned her Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Her research explores the implications of culture contact and asymmetrical power relations between pastoralists and non-pastoralists. Monroe is currently collaborating on an AAI webinar series for middle and high school teachers that demonstrate ways of centering Africa in “world history” curricula.

3:30pm – 3:35pm EST Student Voices – Youth Perspectives on Reparations

3:35pm – 4:35pm EST The Climate Crisis, The Black World, and Reparations

Acquiring an understanding of how climate justice and colonialism intersect is critical before we can envision solutions to human-induced climate change and stem the global climate crisis.

Olùfémi Tàìwó, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Philosophy, Georgetown University

Dr. Olúfẹ́mi Táíwò is the author of Reconsidering Reparations, and most recently ​Elite Capture: How the Powerful Took Over Identity Politics ​(And Everything Else). Dr. Táíwò’s theoretical work draws liberally from the Black radical tradition, anti-colonial thought, German transcendental philosophy, contemporary philosophy of language, contemporary social science, and histories of activism and activist thinkers. His public philosophy, including articles exploring intersections of climate justice and colonialism, has been featured in The New Yorker, The Nation, Boston Review, Dissent, The Appeal, Slate, Al Jazeera, The New Republic, Aeon, and Foreign Policy.

4:35pm – 5:30pm EST AAI K-12 Education Program Partnerships in Michigan

Michigan educators describe how AAI has helped to support their work with students as part of an ongoing program partnership. The connections between student achievement and teaching that centers Africa and its diaspora will be explored.

Letha Hopkins-Powell, Ed.D.

Principal, Walt Whitman Elementary School, Pontiac, Michigan

Dr. Letha Hopkins-Powell has a Doctorate in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, Education Specialist in Administration, a Master of Art in Elementary Education, and a Bachelor of Science in Television Production. Before becoming the Principal at Whitman Elementary, Dr. Hopkins-Powell was the Assistant Principal, Department Head, and Building Assessment Coordinator with the Pontiac School district for over 17 years. She is an accomplished Pontiac School District alumni with 31 years of classroom teaching experience. By pursuing lifelong learning, Dr. Hopkins-Powell intends to be an example to students and teachers that we should never stop learning.

Lindsay Helfman

History Teacher, Marygrove High School, Detroit, Michigan

Lindsay Helfman is a social studies teacher at The School at Marygrove in Detroit, Michigan. She completed a Master’s in Education from the University of Michigan in 2020. For the last two years, she has taught high school world history and legal studies. She is a passionate advocate for local history and project-based learning in the classroom. She believes that democratic education empowers students to change the world for the better.

with Olivia Lynch, Ed.D.

AAI Senior Education Program Advisor

5:30pm -5:45pm EST Closing Remarks

Watch AAI’s 7th Annual SOE Conference: