BusinessDay
NigeriaDecides2023

UNN’s Agbakoba wins prestigious Georg Forster research award

Joseph Agbakoba, a Nigerian academic from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN) has been announced as recipient of the 2022 Georg Forster Research Award by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation of Germany.

Agbakoba, a professor in the department of Philosophy at the university is a pioneer researcher and teacher in the field of development philosophy and ethics for Africa.

He has to his credit over 60 publications in reputable national and international journals and publishing houses, and is the first African philosopher to receive this award.

The university don is one of Africa’s foremost advocates of the place of philosophy in discourses of development.

According to Agbakoba in his response to the award, “It is heartwarming to be recognized for one’s humble contributions. Coming from the Humboldt Foundation makes it a special treat. I dedicate this award to all teachers and researchers in Nigeria currently seeking to make our universities more globally competitive.

Georg Forster Research Awards are given each year to not more than six scholars and scientists in any discipline from 137 countries of the developing world (comprising Africa, Asia, Latin America and Oceania). It is in recognition of outstanding lifetime work in research and teaching.

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The Owerri in Imo state born professor’s latest book, Development and Modernity in Africa: An Intercultural Philosophical Perspective, was published in 2019 in Köln, Germany, by Rüdiger Köppe Verlag.

The book is widely acclaimed for its groundbreaking insights into why African cultures reacted the way they did to the slave trades and to European colonization.

In the book, the author applies the tools of philosophy to diagnose the causes of Africa’s underdevelopment, counter-development and disadvantages in the race to modernity. He calls time on academic African philosophy’s decades-long preoccupation with what he calls ‘identitarian’ concerns. In its place, he advocates for a shift to ‘developmentarian’ concerns and transcolonial constructivism.

Agbakoba’s argument is hinged on the view that African philosophy must engage the question of modernity and development without jettisoning the best of its indigenous values and in the process construct a viable hybrid world.

His other books include Philosophical Issues in Development, published by Fourth Dimension Publishers, Enugu in 2003, and Theories of Mind: A Case for Interactionism, which was published by University of Nigeria Press, Nsukka

He then proceeded to Obafemi Awolowo University Ile-Ife for undergraduate and master’s degree studies, after which he enrolled at the University of Nigeria Nsukka for his PhD.

Agbakoba will join other Georg Forster Award winners to be honored at an event to be held later in Germany.

Winners are also invited to conduct a research project of their choice at a research institution in Germany in collaboration with specialist colleagues.

The Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, sponsor of the Georg Forster Award, was established in 1953 by the German government to enhance international scientific and scholarly development and collaboration. The foundation sponsors some of the world’s most prestigious fellowships and research awards and has supported a large network of top flight scholars globally, including 57 Nobel Prize winners.

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