Life as an APN Alumnus: An Interview with Professor Audrey Gadzekpo
Professor Audrey Gadzekpo, an Alumnus (Individual Research Grant 2014) of the Social Science Research Council’s African Peacebuilding Network (APN), has just launched her book, Conflict-Sensitive Coverage: A Manual for Journalists Reporting Conflict in West Africa, on June 22, 2017, at the Legon Centre for International Affairs and Diplomacy, University of Ghana – Legon, Accra, Ghana.
Previously, the APN had the opportunity to sit down with Professor Gadzekpo at the APN’s event on “Peacebuilding in Africa: Sustaining Inclusive Civil Society Engagement,” at Wiston House, Sussex, England, held in collaboration with Wilton Park and the African Leadership Centre, on March 22, 2017. We discussed her experiences with the African Peacebuilding Network, including as the editor of the special issue of the APN’s digital forum, Kujenga Amani, on Ghana’s 2016 elections, and her career as a researcher and professor.
APN: Thank you so much for joining us today. Could we start by talking about how you came to be familiar with the African Peacebuilding Network and what role it has played in your career as a researcher?
Professor Audrey Gadzekpo: As a researcher with a multidisciplinary focus, I am always looking for opportunities to expand my research agenda in ways that are meaningful, particularly in relation to African development. The APN has impacted my perspective and focus, in that I am now more consciously deepening my knowledge on peacebuilding, security, and development.
I came to the subject by accident, by being invited primarily by training institutes such as Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre (KAIPTC) to lecture for one of their courses. For example, next week I am teaching part of a course on gender and conflict, where I will speak about gender, media, and conflict. So, you can imagine that chairing the conference panel at Wilton Park on “Case Studies: The Role of Civil Society across Regions,” particularly focusing on gender, provided me with another opportunity to expand my knowledge and challenged me to think about issues in a different way. Therefore, when I teach that course, this experience will inform some of the perspectives that I bring to it.
As an APN Alumnus, I also check out from time to time what’s happening on the APN website and Kujenga Amani, and come across lots of useful information in the broader area of conflict and peacebuilding.
What do you think were the most beneficial aspects of the APN grant?
The opportunity to do good research certainly. However, additionally, the networking and the other processes, such as training workshops, around the grant meant that I had the opportunity to engage multiple times with other grantees and to be mentored in that sense to sort of reshape my ideas. I also had the opportunity to organize a regional training workshop for practicing journalists in the West African sub-region on reporting about peacebuilding, with a couple of APN grantees as resource persons. One of them, Dr. Peace Medie, just last week sent me a published article based on an aspect of the lecture she gave for that workshop. So it becomes a self-perpetuating cycle of sharing ideas and research and publication opportunities.
It sounds like the network of APN grantees and Alumni is building itself. After being an APN grantee a few years ago and now transitioning to the role of mentor to newer grantees, could you tell us a bit about that transition? Do you have any advice for people thinking about applying for the APN grant?
Yes, I definitely think that APN grantees and prospective applicants should take advantage of the broader APN network as much as possible. I think that is the broader benefit of the grant, becoming part of a constantly growing pool of people: colleagues, experts, mentors, and practitioners working on peacebuilding.
This happens both locally and across the continent. For example, there’s another APN Alumnus at the Legon Centre for International Affairs and Diplomacy (LECIAD), also here at the University of Ghana, Legon with me, Dr. Amanda Coffie (IRG 2016). Amanda reached out to me so we can get together and do some talking on what she’s working on, just informally. Also, I share information and articles with another Alumnus from LECIAD, Dr. Peace Medie (IRG 2015, BMC 2016).
Beyond building connections within institutions, the APN has helped me to meet contacts working on similar topics throughout Africa. Sometimes, when I am writing a paper and want to have an idea of those that are doing similar work or topics, I first go through my APN contacts and see if anyone has done something in this field, what their thinking is, and then build on that. Future APN grantees should take advantage of the large and growing network, in formal and informal ways, because it’s really a great resource.
Thank you again for giving us time for this interview and your contributions to APN activities, including editing the special issue of Kujenga Amani on Ghana’s 2016 elections. Also accept our warm congratulations on the publication of your e-book and now print publication, Conflict-Sensitive Coverage: A Manual for Journalists Reporting Conflict in West Africa.
Professor Audrey Gadzekpo is an associate professor and Dean of the School of Information and Communication Studies, University of Ghana, Legon. With more than twenty-four years of experience in teaching, research, and advocacy on media, gender, and governance, and close to thirty years of practical experience as a journalist, she has worked variously as a reporter, editor, contributor, columnist, talk show host, socio-political commentator, and magazine publisher/editor.
Prof. Gadzekpo obtained a doctoral degree in African Studies at the University of Birmingham, UK; a Master of Arts in Communications from Brigham Young University, Utah, USA; and a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Ghana.
Her research interests and publications reflect the nexus between media and gender; media, politics and democratic governance; media and developmental imperatives and media and conflict. She teaches courses in Print Journalism; Media, Culture and Society; Gender and Communication; Introduction to Gender; Communicating Climate; Qualitative Research Methods; Media Ethics; and History of Media in Africa. Professor Gadzekpo has conducted numerous media and communication training programs for the media, public sector organizations, private companies, civil society organizations, and security sector institutions. She is the editor of Conflict-Sensitive Coverage: A Manual for Journalists Reporting Conflict in West Africa (Accra: School of Information and Communication Studies, University of Ghana – Legon, 2017).