The State Department, University of Utah and the Making of a National University for Ethiopia, 1958 to 1969


Manna Duah, PhD candidate at Temple University, will present her research at a meeting of the Bill Graham Centre Graduate Research Forum. This talk examines the University of Utah’s mandate between 1959 and 1969 to run higher education programs for Ethiopia. The US State Department’s Agency for International Development (AID) hired the University of Utah at the request of the Ethiopian Emperor, Haile Selassie I, to develop a national university for Ethiopia. Manna Duah argues that the university’s international education program for Ethiopia was a US foreign policy instrument. The program was to support and strengthen the burgeoning US-Ethiopia alliance. It provided funds for the Imperial Government’s ambitions to improve national literacy and have a regional educational center with international connections. The Utah program also sought to identify and train Ethiopian students who showed potential to become political leaders. This program created a transnational educational space in Ethiopia and the US that connected students at the Haile Selassie University to the larger network of student migrations who interpreted and disseminated the political and social models they encountered through US programs.

As part of the dissertation’s larger focus on US international education programs in Africa, this research contributes to a growing body of literature on the geopolitical implications of Cold War student migrations. Duah’s dissertation focuses on two US Cold War foreign policies in Africa– the alliance with Ethiopia and South Africa, and international education programs designed for young Africans from these countries between 1958 and 1980. US Cold War policy interests created Ethiopia and South Africa as the main US allies in Africa. International education was a vital policy instrument designed to realize US policy objectives in Africa, which were to prevent the rise of collectivist nationalism and communism. Her dissertation uses multi-archival research to analyze the evolution of US international education policies; the alliance between the State Department and US University administrators to create and implement education programs in South Africa, Ethiopia and the US for African students; and the effects of these programs on student and state participants.