Dr. Shimelis Assefa: Inclusive Excellence through Global Knowledge Production

Dr. Shimelis Assefa exemplifies Inclusive Excellence through his scholarly work in global knowledge production. His research focus on knowledge production and knowledge diffusion highlights a new form of social-class division, which is commonly known as the north-south divide, which he frames as the knowledge divide. For Dr. Assefa, knowledge divide between a developed and a developing country is based on human capital. As the key element to the wealth of nations and globalization, human capital facilitates the free flow of ideas, information, best-practices, know-how, and knowledge on a global scale. He investigates how Africa’s limited access and non-recognized contribution to the global knowledge base creates a challenge for Africa, hindering it from playing an active role in today’s knowledge-based economy. In his book chapter Unfulfilled Promises of Globalization: Global Knowledge Production and Africa, he argues that global knowledge production is critical for a speedier, wider, and deeper interconnectedness that is inclusive and benefits all nations involved. Dr. Assefa is an Associate Professor in the Library and Information Science program.

Dr. Shimelis Assefa talks with students

In 2012, Dr. Assefa organized a panel discussion at the Association for Information Science and Technology annual meeting on the topic of Content Divide: Africa and the Global Knowledge Footprint. Taking research outputs and patent applications across all regions of the world, he analyzed the volume of production as a barometer for the well-being of nations’ scientific and innovation impact. Last year, at the same conference in Seattle, WA, he organized and led another panel on the topic of Open Access: The Global Scene, with the goal of reviewing global open access practices and suggesting ideas for the implementation of an international infrastructure that supports and sustains the future of open scholarly communication. In his recent interview with Janet Lee, Dean of Libraries at Regis University, he discussed challenges and opportunities of library collaboration from an international perspective. One key theme he discussed in the interview is exemplified through the practices of PubMed Central (PMC), the world’s largest free full-text database of bio-medical and life sciences  that archives more than 3.3 million journal articles and scientific papers. Hosted by the National Library of Medicine and the National Institute of Health, so far PMC International (PMCI) supports only Europe (Europe PMC) and Canada (PMC Canada).

In his recent publication Diffusion of scientific knowledge in agriculture: The case for Africa, he developed a knowledge diffusion model that enhances the existing extension service that is slow and hierarchical. Borrowing from the method of translational research, Dr. Shimelis investigates methods on how scientific research findings reach farmers, in a format and language that is easy to use and provides timely access, thereby narrowing the gap from knowledge to action/decision-making. Dr. Assefa also organized and led a workshop for agricultural scientists at the International Association of Agricultural Information Specialists titled Using Moodle as an Online Learning Management System to offer Professional Development Courses to Agricultural Extension Workers in Africa. He has played leadership roles in the Association for Information Science and Technology, where he served as co-chair (2011-2012) and chair (2014-2015) of the Special Interest Group in International Information Issues. We look forward to his continued dedication to Inclusive Excellence.

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