The Origins of AWB

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I loved my time at universities and felt privileged to be part of institutions which make such important contributions to the well-being of the countries in which they are located.

Steven Davis, the founder of Academics Without Borders, spent his whole adult life in universities, first as a student and then as a faculty member at various universities.

In 2006, when he was about to retire, he decided that he wanted to stay connected to universities and to make what contributions he could to foster them. He thought that universities in developing countries might need assistance. So, he decided to look for an “Academics Without Borders,” under any name, which had as its mission helping improve universities in the developing world. He expected to find many, but much to his surprise found none.

He asked his friends, who were experts in development, about this. He was told that universities in the developing world have mostly been neglected for about the past 25 years. He wondered how the foundations and government aid agencies, which want to improve primary education and basic health care, could leave universities out of the equation. After all, they educate the teachers, health workers, and related administrators who make possible decent primary education and health services.

Consequently, he started Academics Without Borders with the hope that it could fill the gap left by the aid community.

Vision

A world where developing countries can use the resources that higher education provides to care for their citizens and develop their economies.

Mission

We help universities in the least developed countries.

Academics Without Borders’ mission is to help developing countries improve their universities so that they can train their own experts and conduct research to assist in their countries’ development. Academics Without Borders’ projects are involved in the full range of university activities from expanding and improving existing institutions and programs to helping create new ones.

Values

Self Help

The best way to support developing countries is to help them help themselves.

Higher Education

Higher education in a country is a prerequisite for it to be able to provide its citizens with the basic necessities for life.

Volunteers

Volunteers are essential to our projects, contributing their passion and expertise at no cost.

Collaboration

Our colleagues in the developing world bring deep understanding of their own context and challenges and are the originators of our projects.

Impact

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1. We work to make an impact in the poorest countries

Academics Without Borders helps improve higher education for students in some of the least developed countries in the world. This means that they can stay at home to become doctors, engineers, teachers, etc., to build their countries and provide their fellow citizens with essential services. Through our train-the-trainer model, just one volunteer can affect the lives of many.

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2. We work to prevent crises before they happen

We help meet developing countries’ most important need: the expertise to lift themselves out of poverty. $1 spent to prevent a crisis is more effective than $1 spent to resolve one. Our volunteers help to develop the research skills that find solutions to local problems on the ground.

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3. We work as equals with developing world partners

Our partners set the agenda for the projects; our role is to help with their homegrown initiatives. Our partners own and contribute financially to the projects. We recruit experts from around the world, as needed by our partners, to support virtually any area of higher education.