• Ph.D. and Postdoc, University of Cambridge;
• Postdoc, Bernstein Center for Computational Neuroscience, University of Tübingen, Germany
• Research interests include computational/sensory neuroscience; retinal/auditory physiology; sensory information processing
• Project on international scientific exchange in neuroscience in Sub-Saharan Africa
Higher Education in the Developing World: Teaching Neuroscience in Africa
Racing developments in transportation and information technology are transforming our planet into one global community. But this globalization does not benefit everybody equally. Despite traditional geo-political barriers waning, in many poorer areas of the world access to higher education and current scientific progress is still a scarce and valuable resource.
Pivotal to long-term success and stability in these societies is the presence of a group of highly trained local knowledge workers with a broad outlook. Overcoming global inequality through education, as well as local empowerment has long been established as worldwide development goals; however, most existing projects focus at primary and secondary education, neglecting the role of the tertiary tier. Scientific education is pivotal to the ability of societies to innovate, move forward and integrate with the global information society. To date, most developing nations need to import their solutions, innovations and patents from abroad, while losing their most capable minds to Western universities and the knowledge economy beyond their borders. Providing top-level education to local elites in their home country is key to enabling developing societies to take their futures into their own hands and become valuable partners in the worldwide production of knowledge.
To address this issue we launched a Neuroscience teaching project at Kampala International University (KIU), Uganda in autumn 2011- the 1st of its kind in Africa. With generous support from companies as well as nonprofit organizations, we were able to provide up-to-date scientific knowledge and equipment to a selected group of students from the region. We linked up current research agendas with locally relevant issues and conveyed key strategies in neuroscientific research, highlighting how top-level scientific research can be performed locally with limited budget. Following successful completion of this pilot project we secured further funding towards annual repetition and expansion of the course for the years to come. But inequality exists in all areas of higher education. To surpass the limits of personal expertise we actively seek to promote and publicize our approach to motivated individuals in other disciplines.