Morgan State University was designated an official institutional global research partner for civic engagement, innovation and sustainable development in Africa and the African diaspora at the second, biennial Africa Open Data Conference (#AODC17). The conference was held in Accra, Ghana, July 17–21, 2017.
“Open data” is a critical component of “big data,” a term now used to describe very large data sets only modern computers are able to compile, as well as the advanced analytics to draw meaning from those data sets, which advanced computers have also made possible. Open data is globally accessible and is often used in conjunction with online open platforms and open source codes to design viable solutions for civic engagement and sustainable development across all fields and works of life, including health, education, agriculture, nutrition, investigative journalism, architecture, transportation, engineering, leadership, gender equality and social justice.
The initiative to have Morgan participate in the Africa Open Data Conference was led by Umaru Bah, Ph.D., Fulbright associate professor in the Department of Strategic Communication in Morgan’s School of Global Journalism and Communication. Yacob Astatke, D.Eng., assistant vice president for International Affairs at Morgan, was instrumental in securing the University’s designation as an official global institutional partner of the conference, alongside other partners such as the Government of the Republic of Ghana, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), International Development Research Center (IDRC), U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), U.S. State Department’s President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition (GODAN), World Wide Web Foundation, Wikimedia Foundation and SAS. Dr. Astatke and Dr. Bah participated in or led several sessions at the event. They also visited Ashesi University in Ghana, where they initiated discussions for other prospective partnerships with Morgan.
Morgan’s #AODC17 partnership furthers a plan developed with Timothy Akers, Ph.D., assistant vice president for Research Innovation and Advocacy in Morgan’s Division of Research and Economic Development (D-RED), to establish a Morgan Center for Open Data Education and Entrepreneurship (M-CODE). Morgan previously launched a Morgan Open Data working symposium, held on campus on Nov. 18, 2016.
“Morgan’s seminal role in the open data movement is critical for future domestic and global information needs and the industries that will spin-off as a result of interoperability and standards in this area,” said Victor McCrary, Ph.D., the university’s vice president for Research and Economic Development.
M-CODE will serve as a local and global collaborative hub for multidisciplinary, innovative and social entrepreneurship approaches to gathering, sharing and applying open data for research, teaching, curriculum development, assessment, grantsmanship, career advancement and civic and community engagement. Post-AODC17 plans are now underway by Morgan’s Division of International Affairs to engage with open data partners and utilize their resources as a significant part of the university’s plan to internationalize Morgan’s campus and localize its global partners. Activities toward this end will include an open data/big data distinguished speaker series and workshops.
The Africa Open Data Conference is organized by the Africa Open Data Collaborative in partnership with local organizing partners and the Government of the Republic of Ghana.
Morgan State University, founded in 1867, is celebrating its 150th year of excellence in higher education. A Carnegie-classified doctoral research institution, Morgan offers more than 100 academic programs leading to degrees from the baccalaureate to the doctorate. As Maryland’s designated Public Urban Research University, Morgan serves a multiethnic and multiracial student body and seeks to ensure that the doors of higher education are opened as wide as possible to as many as possible. For more information about Morgan State University, visit www.morgan.edu.
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Dr. Victor McCrary, Vice President for Research & Economic Development
Larry Jones, University PR