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Dr. Madibbo’s “Knowledge Across Borders” initiatives featured on the Faculty of Arts Alumni Connections magazine

Knowledge Across Borders

Over 10 years later, associate professor Amal Madibbo continues her work of sharing knowledge in her native Sudan

Ever since she came to Calgary in 2007, Amal Madibbo, an associate professor in the Department of Sociology, has returned to her native Sudan annually to provide aid to the developing country.

She has volunteered with schools in war-torn Darfur, taught in refugee camps, and helped train future researchers at the African country’s universities, among her many acts of service. She’s also worked with Calgary’s Sudanese-Canadian community, to help them better integrate into our society.

Until February 2016, Madibbo always undertook these projects using her own funds, making the colossal effort because she was passionate about helping her homeland. This changed when Madibbo was asked to be a part of a new Government initiative in Sudan, the Sudanese Partnership for Knowledge Transfer by Expatriate Nationals (SPaKTEN), which encourages Sudanese immigrants to better contribute to the development of their native country.

“This was an important initiative, because there are so many Sudanese immigrants in other countries, already helping their families and friends, and maybe small businesses back home,” says Madibbo. “But to better contribute, we need to institutionalize that. We need curriculum building. We need better educational and economic investments, investments in hospitals, and business contributions.”

Since 2016, the Sudanese government has continued to increase the funding and human resources allocated to immigration and in support of knowledge transfer. Madibbo is now a member of the Council of Sudanese Scientists and Experts Abroad, a group created to enhance and facilitate the types of activities many Sudanese abroad are already returning to do.

Recently, Madibbo has partnered with four Dutch professors to turn their individual one-off volunteer teaching opportunities into a more established winter school. Together, these professors are teaching classes with topics ranging from sociology, anthropology and medicine, to Indigenous knowledge with a focus on conflict resolution. This group is working with universities in Sudan with the goal of tailoring their expertise to what is needed by the institutions. Madibbo often focuses her teaching on research methodologies for new professors and graduate students.

Moving forward, Madibbo hopes to increase participation from professors in Canada and believes this is possible with the recent increase of Canadian interest in Africa. “To make this a true partnership between the Netherlands, Sudan and Canada, I’d like to see a wider range of expertise from Canadian universities,” says Madibbo. Some of the areas where students have expressed an interest in learning more include statistics and engineering.

One of the key materials required to successfully teach these engaged and inspiring students are text books. Annually, Madibbo works with colleagues and students to collect gently used textbooks to bring with her to Sudan. “Students are so appreciative of the knowledge we bring as professors but are also appreciative of the materials we bring to leave with them to continue their studies.”

Are you interested in helping support Madibbo’s work in Sudan? Do you have a textbook from 2007-2018 that is collecting dust on your shelf? Clear that space for your next good read and send your book to Sudan.

Contact Emily Aalbers for details 403.220.5827 or emily.aalbers@ucalgary.ca