Dean Dorothy Bassett of Duquesne’s School of Leadership and Professional Advancement (SLPA) and Dr. Stanley J. Kabala, associate director of the University’s Center for Environmental Research and Education, will lead 20 American environmental and energy professionals and some graduate students to Ghana during July—and will make gifts of drinking water-purifying pots, like the ones made by their Ghanaian counterparts when they were in Pittsburgh last year, to African communities.
The month-long immersion trip, in a nation that recently tapped off-shore oil supplies, focuses on energy issues and is the result of a partnership between the University of Ghana and Duquesne. The program is supported by a two-year, $350,000 grant from the U.S. Department of State to train emerging leaders from both countries to handle the complex societal, economic and environmental challenges arising from energy extraction.
The University of Ghana in Accra will host this Emerging Leaders’ Extraction and Environment Program exchange from July 3-July 30.
“This program will provide the American participants with an opportunity to observe how another country is dealing with extractive industries,” Bassett said. “It’s my hope that they will gain insight into some different approaches from those used in the U.S., including those mitigating any negative impacts.”
Last summer, Duquesne hosted 22 Ghanaian government, nonprofit and corporate professionals who examined the Marcellus Shale natural gas extraction/drilling in Western Pennsylvania and mountaintop coal removal in West Virginia.
“The Ghanaian professionals, when they visited Western Pennsylvania, learned about the U.S. experience in managing natural resource issues,” said Kabala, an expert in international environmental affairs. “They came here thinking we had it all figured out and saw it’s actually not that way; we have controversy and debate. They realized there are challenges and there are things they need to incorporate into some of their strategies.
“We are not experts going to advise the Ghanaians, so I’m curious to see how the visiting Americans will use the learning they experience there and how it affects directly what they do in the U.S.”
The American team of students and emerging leaders was selected from applicants nationwide, with participants representing 12 states including Hawaii, California, New York, Virginia and Oregon.
One Duquesne graduate student and undergraduate alumna, Amellie Ouellette, program coordinator for the SLPA Master’s in Global Leadership program, is one of only three Pittsburgh participants in the trip.
Ouellette, who is committed to volunteerism, will help to deliver water-purifying colloidal silver pots made in a ceramics studio located in the basement of the Braddock Carnegie Library to communities in Ghana. During their visit here last summer, the Ghanaian participants helped to make some of these pots. The silver in the machine-made pots, which look like overgrown flower pots, kills bacteria, viruses and parasites, saving lives and eliminating the misery caused by water-borne illnesses.
While in Africa sharing the pots and absorbing pieces of Ghanaian culture, the American team will become familiar with off-shore oil drilling and the social and environmental issues it poses, the environmental challenges of gold salt and sand mining, the role of women in the Ghanaian energy marketplace, charcoal production, thermal electric power and environmentally friendly beach resorts, among other topics.