Learn more about Ashesi University

During the month we spend in Ghana, we will be based at Ashesi University, a private, not-for-profit university located just outside of Accra.  The University of Ghana might be the country’s most recognizable institution of higher education, but Ashesi is not far behind thanks to the fantastic work of its faculty and staff and its innovative approach to transformative education:

  • Ashesi was founded by Patrick Awuah.  Patrick is from Ghana, but he received a scholarship to attend Swarthmore College in the US.  He later went on to work at Microsoft as an engineer and program manager.  Inspired by his own experience of transformative education, Patrick quit his software job in 1997 to return to Ghana.

  • The Ashesi University Foundation was established in 1999.  The school opened its doors in 2002 in a rented house in Labone with a class of 30 students.  95% of its first graduating class decided to stay in Africa rather than pursue opportunities abroad, which is one of the university’s major priorities.
  • The name of the University – Ashesi – means “beginning” in Akan/Twi.  The name is inspired by a quote from Johann Wolfgang von Goethe:  “If there is anything you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now.”  Ashesi marked a new beginning for its founder and for every student who enters the university.
  • The Ashesi logo is inspired by the adinkra symbols used by Akan people to represent wisdom, knowledge, history, and morality.  The bottom part of the symbol is a stool with three pillars, which represent the three guiding principles of the university:  scholarship, leadership, and citizenship

ashesi

  • In 2008, the student body voted to adopt an Examination Honor Code – the first in Africa.  Every entering student signs the Honor Code before they are admitted.  In the process, they promise to hold themselves to high ethical standards wtihout being overseen by invigilators.  Other prominent Ghanaian schools like Wesley Girls, are now following Ashesi’s example.  The goal behind the Honor Code was to build a culture of integrity and a community of trust among students and faculty.
  • The school began a capital campaign in 2008 to raise funds for the construction of a permanent campus.  The school was completed in 2011.
  • The new campus is located in the hills just outside of Accra, in the town of Berekuso.  This location means that the campus generally has lower temperatures than areas further down the mountains.  It also means that it has spectacular views of the valleys and hills that surround it.
  • In 2012, Ashesi established a partnership with the MasterCard Foundation to provide $13 million in scholarships to students in 11 African countries.
  • The new campus seeks to united Ghanaian traditional architecture, modern technology, and environmental best practices.  On-site water recycling and treatment provides potable water all year round.  Waste is turned into bio-gas, which provides fuel for cooking.
  • 100% of Ashesi students learn to code, but this focus on technical skills is rooted in a liberal arts curriculum that focuses on developing well-rounded, ethical students who will be skilled entrepreneurs and engaged citizens.
  • Ashesi has an equal number of male and female students.  Students come from 20 African countries.  Students live on campus.  Half of all students are on scholarships.
  • Ashesi provides degree programs in business administration, management information systems, computer science, electrical and electronic engineering, computer engineering, and mechanical engineering.  Ashesi students are encouraged to use their humanities and social science coursework to research real-world problems and develop innovative solutions that are ethical and entrepreneurial.  Ashesi’s courses emphasize critical thinking, problem solving, and ethics.
  • Ashesi has been featured in a number of international publications, including Forbes, BBC, TED, and CNN.  Its founder, Patrick Awuah, won a MacArthur “Genius Grant” in 2015.
  • Wayne State students will be in class with Ashesi students, working together in teams to complete research projects!
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