Third Chapter May 2021 Update


by Lee Walton

Core Project

It has been almost 10 months since The Third Chapter Project, Inc. became a 501-C-3. COVID-19 complicated the launch of our new nonprofit venture in Africa, but I am happy to report that this has not dampened our passion for the mission. Without the ability to travel we (along with the rest of the world) have adapted to Zoom.  What has been underway is that we have been working with our Open Access partners (especially Knowledge Unlatched and their Open Research Library) to support access to quality scholarly resources. Our impact can be measured by the discoverability of almost 15,000 titles, articles, and journals in 5 countries (Uganda, Rwanda, Zimbabwe, Guinea-Bissau, and South Africa). We are working with consortia to be able to track usage within the year. To date, 194 University/Colleges (including teacher colleges) are in various stages of adoption of the platform-packages we represent. This extrapolates to almost 400K students and researchers having seamless access to high-quality curated titles in humanities, social science and pedagogical theory and practice.

New Partner

I am pleased to announce our new publishing partner University of Michigan Press and their new Open Access initiative on the Fulcrum platform. We will have more information as this develops. Thank you so much Charles Watkinson and team–we are so pleased to be working with you again.


Oh, the Humanities Africa! Is our new project. We will be launching in the fall of 2021. Currently we have a subscriber list of over 2,000 and growing: librarians, faculty, and deans/chairs. This will start our subscriber base for OTHA. This newsletter will be mirrored on the existing Oh, the Humanities! format: however, content and the editorial team will be 100% African. This publication will truly be the voice of African scholars.  We will have more information on OTHA as we get closer to our launch date.

Third Chapter April 2021 Update


by Clare Doyle

The Third Chapter Project is pleased to announce a new publishing partner, University of Calgary Press, a leading Canadian publisher of Open Access scholarly books. University of Calgary Press is a participant in the global Exploring Open Access eBook Usage (OAeBU) data trust pilot project supported by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Director of the Press, Brian Scrivener, has joined the project’s Advisory Board of fourteen thought leaders representing a diverse array of OA book stakeholders from across five continents.

Third Chapter looks forward to collaborating with University of Calgary Press, and we encourage you to examine their OA titles. Topics range from Indigenous studies, literature, film studies, and history to area studies, sustainability, and African Studies titles. 

Photo credit:  Maximilian Schönherr Via Wikipedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Third Chapter March 2021 Update


by Clare Doyle

As another Women’s History Month comes to a close, we at Third Chapter have read and watched many articles and features on women’s accomplishments and leadership over the past year. And others reminding us that as much as women are succeeding they are still struggling. In particular, women of color face racism and barriers in social mobility, wage equality, academia, housing, etc., — barriers which the coronavirus has cast into high relief. 

Many of us may have wondered what it would be like to live in a world where the majority of women were the leaders, lawmakers and CEOs. What would change? In an interview this month with HBCU Buzz, Suzanne Elise Walsh, President of Bennett College, has some insights into what that culture might be like. Although founded as a co-ed institution, Bennett College is now one of only two all-women HBCUs (the other is Spelman College).

In the clip below President Walsh discusses her role at Bennett (she was appointed president in August 2019). Asked what is like to be at an all-woman HBCU, she said: 

“It’s how the world should be – and by that, I mean women are leaders all over campus.”

All student club leaders and most of Walsh’s leadership team are women of color, as are many of the faculty.

“Some people call that Utopia; I just call that reality —the future. Get ready for the future! I think that the culture is therefore one that reinforces the importance and the role of black women as leaders. It just says this is possible, this is the world that we live in. I think that the culture is also supportive because of that. It’s a place where it’s okay to make mistakes, because you’re not going to be judged because you’re a woman, a woman of color.”

Asked about the role of graduates after they leave campus, President Walsh joked that it might be described as “Hidden Figures II: the Bennet College Story.” 

“The thing that I love about Bennett is the women who go to Bennet are the behind-the-scenes leaders. . . .  If you look to see who’s really behind the work that everybody knows about, you’ll often find Bennet women there.”

As we begin to look forward to the return of higher education, and the rest of our world, to something resembling our pre-COVID lives, there is a unique opportunity to use lessons learned to imagine a society that begins to address the inequalities highlighted in the past year, and the campus culture of an all-women’s HBCU may have lessons for the rest of us.

James Mwangi, Chairman of Equity Group Foundation, has been talking recently about the need for leadership in Africa. In the Global North, 54% of leaders come from the liberal arts (per the Academy of Arts and Sciences). Third Chapter’s mission is to help provide resources for a more robust liberal arts education for the future leaders of the Global South. We hope that you will accompany us on that journey.

Featured image credit: Credit: carmichaellibrary via Wikipedia/CC 2.0.

Third Chapter February Update



by Clare Doyle

The Third Chapter team had a call recently with our partner Knowledge Unlatched during which we were discussing the work of the Open Research Library (ORL), which is planned to include all Open Access book content worldwide on one platform for user-friendly discovery, offering a seamless experience navigating more than 20,000 Open Access books.

One topic that came up in our conversation was the perennial issue of obstacles faced by scholars in the Global South when it comes to publishing their work—echoes by many conversations with Third Chapter’s African Scholars Advisory Board. So it’s encouraging to see titles on the ORL list that highlight the African story told by Africans. For instance, there are several volumes from the Cape Town-based publisher AOSIS, with books on the ORL list having a focus on ethics, religious studies and education, for example titles such as Theology at the University of Pretoria – 100 years and Self-Directed Learning for the 21st Century: Implications for Higher Education. 

African Minds, another publisher represented on the ORL list, publishes predominantly in the social sciences and its authors are typically African academics or those with a close affinity with the continent. The University in Africa and Democratic Citizenship and Emerging Solutions for Musical Arts Education in Africa are two examples of African Minds title available via the ORL list. 

Among the many lessons driven home by the events of the past year is the intrinsic interconnectedness of our world. No country can—or should—live in isolation from the rest of the planet. But the Global North tends to dominate the global conversation. Initiatives such as the Open Research Library will be a valuable tool in assisting voices from the South to be heard.

African Studies Association Annual Meeting 2020



Contributed by Kathryn Salucka, Deputy Director, African Studies Association

Established in 1957, the African Studies Association (US) has lived through immense changes in African Studies, including, to name a few, the independence wave of the 1960s, the fall of apartheid, and the decolonization of knowledge movement. In 2020, the ASA, like many other organizations, is faced with another challenge: rethinking academic gatherings and the sharing of knowledge during a pandemic. The ASA Annual Meeting brings together thousands of attendees from across the globe to share their latest insights, discuss new paradigms, and debate the finer points of the field. A long-standing tradition, the Annual Meeting serves as the highlight of the year for the ASA, and an opportunity for our members to come together.

In a time of COVID-19, such gatherings are not possible. Safety and travel concerns, combined with the danger of large group events, forced the ASA to reassess the purpose of the Annual Meeting. Though the ASA members cannot come together in-person, the Association believes that the knowledge produced and disseminated at the Annual Meeting is more important than ever. The 63rd Annual Meeting of the African Studies Association will run as a virtual event, November 19-21, 2020. With nearly 300 sessions scheduled, including keynote lectures, a virtual exhibit hall, a K-12 Teacher Workshop and a film screening, this event will be available to anyone who wishes to participate. In the past, the Annual Meeting has been limited to those who could physically attend. The ASA is excited to have the opportunity to remove several of these barriers to attendance, despite the fact that COVID-19 has upset many other aspects of everyday life. Though the program is finalized, individuals are still welcome to register to attend the conference as a participant, at the reduced rates of $50 for ASA members, and $75 for non-ASA members. K-12 Teachers are invited to participate in the Teacher Workshop on Saturday, November 14 for $35.

A truly interdisciplinary organization, ASA members and Annual Meeting attendees come from all fields within African Studies – from those in science and health, to the arts and policy. Insights from all of these corners have an important role to play in leading the charge against COVID-19. Countries in Africa have demonstrated sound approaches to mitigating and containing COVID-19 in 2020. The Annual Meeting program will contain a special track focused solely on COVID-19, featuring wide ranging presentations from governance during COVID-19, the role of religious organizations in the pandemic, and responses from the arts, among others.

In addition to the COVID-19 track, the Annual Meeting program contains a robust array of presentations for registered attendees, including sessions on sculpture and modernism, decolonization of the state, discussions of educational pedagogy, and more. Registered attendees of the conference will have access to on-demand viewing of several of the scheduled sessions, and will continue to have access to archived presentations through the end of the year. The preliminary program for the meeting can be viewed here. If you are interested in registering for the conference, you can do so from the myASA portal. If you would like to register to participate in the K-12 Teacher Workshop, you can do so here.

Any questions about the ASA Annual Meeting can be directed to Alix Saba,


Third Chapter is Now Registered for Amazon Smile Donations

Blog, Updates

by Clare Doyle

What changes economic disparity and fosters a strong society is education? To put our project into context, you need to look at the community we are serving. Six percent of eligible-aged Africans are enrolled in post-secondary education compared to 70% in developed nations. That number has doubled since 2000 but funding still lags far behind (Economist, August 10, 2019). In the United States alone, we spend $135.5 billion annually on higher education. Sub-Saharan Africa is made up of 46 countries and collectively the number is $5 billion, which represents almost 7% (Grand View Research, 2018).

The Third Chapter Project is now registered as a charitable organization with the Amazon Smile program. If you shop via Amazon, and would like Amazon to donate a percentage of what you spend on the site to Third Chapter, simply go to, and click the “Get Started” button. Log in with your Amazon credentials, and, when prompted, pick The Third Chapter Project, Inc, as your charitable organization. Many Amazon purchases are eligible for Amazon Smile donations and if you look underneath the product information you will see a badge “Eligible for amazon smile donation” if this is the case. You don’t need to do anything else—order the product as usual and Amazon will donate 0.5% of eligible purchases to Third Chapter. There are no fees and no extra cost to you! 

Once you’ve selected Third Chapter as your charitable organization, just remember to go to in future when you want to shop on Amazon—we suggest bookmarking the link for convenience. It’s an easy way to donate to Third Chapter and to support our mission to facilitate access to leading scholarly content in the social sciences and humanities among under-served academic institutions in Africa. Every donation counts!

Scholarship Out of Africa

Blog, Updates

by Third Chapter President Lee Walton

When we first conceptualized the Third Chapter Project, Inc., our mission was to facilitate access to Humanities and social science via electronic resources to scholars in under-served communities. Africa was a natural choice as we became aware of the immense knowledge gap between developed countries and developing countries through our colleagues at the American Council of Learned Societies. What we learned from this experience was the critical need for the dissemination of scholarship coming out of and within Africa.  

For anyone who has been following this blog, you will not be surprised to learn how much we rely on our Advisory Committee (consisting of 17 African scholars) to be the voice of their community. All agree that the demand for current scholarship from the Global North is important, but the need for locally generated scholarly communications distributed to the rest of the world is critical for the future of African scholarship. 

In his article, Writing history: flow and blockage in the circulation of knowledge, Dr. Steven Feierman, author and professor Emeritus at University of Pennsylvania wrote about the need for local scholars to be on the forefront of research in Africa. They deserve to get the recognition for what they provide rather than simply contributing to better funded counterparts. Because locals provide better context, when research product from community scholars becomes widely available to the world, it contributes to better knowledge overall.  (or: The local context they provide to the community scholars’ research contributes to better overall knowledge when made available around the world.) 

On a more localized level, our advisory committee members are telling us that a vital element of the Third Chapter Project is the dissemination of African generated scholarship to the rest of the world because it elevates African researchers. The exposure leads to a broader understanding of Africa and an acceptance of those conducting the research at the local level. 

It is important to recognize that the continent of Africa represents 54 countries and 1.6 billion people and yet generates only 3% of the total global knowledge output, the majority of which is in the STEM fields. 

To learn more, I would suggest reading Dr. Steven Feierman’s Writing history: flow and blockage in the circulation of knowledge. 

The Three Questions Facing the Third Chapter Project



By Third Chapter President Lee Walton

After months building key relationships, organizing the African Studies Advisory Board, launching an independent newsletter, and more, here are what I determined are the three biggest questions facing the Third Chapter Project.

  1.  What is the problem? How do we define it?

The problem we are facing is the serious lack of quality electronic resources flowing into Africa, and the obstacles in African scholarly communications emanating out of and within Africa. This is most profoundly affecting the social sciences, humanities, and other related areas. We have identified this as a global problem relating to a variety of causes with the final result being that the entire continent of Africa has been denied access to scholarly and research work, essays, monographs, journals, books, and intellectual exchange. For the most part, the North discriminates against the South by diminishing contributions of African scholarship to the global body of knowledge.

2.  Why is the problem so severe?

  • It can not be understated that there is almost no funding for humanities and social science research, nor access to digital content, especially to African nations. Universities in the African continent are severely underfunded and rely on local and national government funding for acquiring resources. Just like their northern counterparts, the focus is typically on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Medical) with the desired outcome of creating jobs and driving their economies. To compound this, outside non-governmental organizations focus on STEM for the very same reason. By the time STEM programs are funded, there is not enough funding left over to purchase current research in the subject areas of the humanities and social science. The result is outdated or “barely good enough”.  Eighty percent of the African Humanities Program (AHP, an ACLS/Carnegie funded project) scholars we polled reported back that they did not have enough resources to complete their work.
  • Bureaucratic roadblocks – In late 2016, the ACLS Humanities E Book Project tried to give all African institutions with ties to the ACLS Fellowship program unlimited and free access to the ACLS collection of high-quality scholarly monographs in digital form. Of the 100 or so universities we reached out to, only two responded and then only one Makerere University signed up. The result was duplicated when the AHP tried to offer free books to the same university libraries. These are titles that are not only necessary to the research community and students, but to the institution themselves to maintain accreditation. Librarians cannot make a decision independently  without going through a cumbersome bureaucrat approval process, even on free material. To make matters worse, with each change in upper management, foci change and priorities are reset, resulting in access to needed resources lost due to subscriptions being cut from institutional collections.
  • Clunky, non-user-friendly library systems are hard to use and are not generally available off campus. Even with library access, students are relying on their phones rather than laptops. These are commonly affected by power outages, have periodic access problems, and are not universally accepted by students.
  • Students rely on faculty for resources, not on the university library. This sets up an inequality between faculty that have relationships and travel in the North, versus those who do not and must rely on the content in the library. A professor who has contacts or travels outside of Africa can acquire new books and journals and make copies (outside of copyright) for the benefit of their students. This workaround has unintended consequences as publishers from the North are wary of piracy of their products.
  • COVID-19 has exacerbated the problem of online access. Currently, most of Africa is conducting online classes but access to online resources lags behind the need. If a student is no longer able to go to the library, print becomes more out of date than ever before.
  • Acquiring journals from the North is difficult because of their cost. One highly sought-after journal can wipe out the entire budget leaving little to nothing for other resources. 
  • African research products suffer from the lack of demand from the North, resulting in works that go unpublished or are simply under-circulated. This situation is a further continuation of publishing colonialism. African scholars need to learn from their peers, and the North needs to hear and learn from Africa. 

The time has long passed for Africans to define their own narrative, for far too long have better funded Northern scholars written the history of Africa.  

3.  Dispelling the myth about other publishers and nonprofits “solving the problem”. 

  • When we first conceptualized The Third Chapter Project, we were met with two reactions. The first, and the one that has solidified our commitment, was hearing anecdotal stories about scholars who were begging, borrowing, and stealing content because the resource gap was so great.
  • The second, and much more problematic issue, was “others are in Africa providing content”. This statement is not accurate. What African scholars are telling us is that Northern publishers are providing low cost or free content that is not as desirable or is out of date, while the material that is critical for research is behind expensive paywalls. Publishers are trading on the goodwill generated by “supporting Africa” but are just an expansion of the exploitation that so many others have done before.  
  • There are wonderful organizations in Africa doing excellent work, mostly in STEM. There are others who are tackling small segments like primary education (K-12) country by country, or someone like the American Theological Library Association who is supporting small seminaries. No one is supporting the humanities and social science by bringing grant and donation-funded content to Africa.

Africa is a continent of 55 countries and home to 1.6 billion people. Yet only 7% of what we spend here in the Global North is spent on higher education there. If we want to see educational parity with the rest of the world, we need to provide African scholars the tools they need to reach their collective potential. 

Third Chapter Project Update: May 2020

Blog, Updates

As anyone who has ever tried to help another can tell you, your assistance will only be helpful if the need and the solution match up. You cannot give a 10-year-old child a car when what they need is a ride. This holds true for nonprofits as well. As we work toward the establishment of Third Chapter in Africa, it is vital that we listen to the community that we hope to serve. To that end, here are the steps we are taking to hear this voice at Third Chapter:

  1. We reached out to a cohort of mostly ACLS Fellows involved in the African Humanities Project through their network website and invited them to take a short survey. The goal was to gain insights into the conditions these scholars were facing. What we discovered after the data was analyzed was that almost 80% of our respondents reported they did not have access to the basic material needed to complete their work. We heard things like: 
    • “(we need) recent publications from Africa: Many of these publications are not available in Ghana and so I have to rely on trips abroad to purchase them or get friends (to buy them)”
    • “Folk Music collections of other African Countries, they are not within reach”
    • “If I want to stay up to date on scholarship and participate in contemporary debates, I need to buy books myself…”
    • “…not available because they are expensive to subscribe to and Music Education is not valued as much by my university.”

2. We added Lala Pop to head up our African Studies Advisory Committee. Ms. Pop tapped into her 12 years of experience working with the African Humanities Project in Africa to create an incredibly deep roster of 13 scholars from different countries with diverse experiences. 

3. Most recently, we welcomed Dr Toboho Moja to the Third Chapter board. Dr. Moja is a visiting professor at NYU. Her background includes time at the University of Oslo and the University of Tampere, as well as several universities in her homeland of South Africa. She has been instrumental in the formation of the Center of Higher Education Transformation in South Africa and has served on boards of international organizations examining and researching education policy. Dr. Moja was appointed by Nelson Mandela to the position of Executive Director and Commissioner at the National Commission on Higher Education. She has written extensively on Education policy and politics in Africa within a global context. All of us at Third Chapter are thrilled that Dr. Moja will be able to help guide the future direction of our organization.   

We are excited to be building Third Chapter with the knowledge that we are providing the resources requested by the community, rather than what so many in the developed nations think they need. This helps to tie together the symbolism of our logo… the light shining from within… outward.

Third Chapter 2020 Spring Update

Blog, Updates

Education = Freedom

As we all shelter in place and learn to adapt to our new normal, we here at The Third Chapter Project hope that you are all safe and healthy. We also want to thank everyone who is still working because they are truly essential.

The following is an introduction to Third Chapter Project and the inspiration behind its founding. 

Education in Sub-Saharan Africa has a complicated history. From the days of colonial rule to today’s patchwork of educational inequities, the African education system has tried to serve the needs of the few and failed to meet the needs of the many. Sub-Saharan Africa has a combined population of approximately 1.2 billon with a 64% illiteracy rate, which represents close to 20% of the worlds illiterate. If you look at the Gross Enrollment Ratio and compare it to other developing nations and then contrast it with Europe and North America, you can see the magnitude of the problem. Only 3% of age appropriate Africans are enrolled in post-secondary education, 11.3% for other developing nations and a whopping 70% in the developed nations. (UIN Global Education Digest 2010)

That is why we, the former ACLS Humanities E Book team, have formed The Third Chapter Project, Inc. a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit corporation. Our mission is,

To facilitate and improve access to and support digital scholarly communication predominately in the social sciences and humanities to underserved academic communities in selected regions of developing nations including the Global South.

There are many agencies, corporations and foundations addressing the problem from many different angles and frankly, it still is not enough. Third Chapter is focused on providing digital content and scholarship in the humanities and social science to a community that is inadequately supplied and resource strapped. How we differ from others in the field is in our approach to the problem. We look to be the bridge between publishers and the needs of the students/scholars. We are a grant funded resource for the university at the same time we are developing future markets for publishers. 

We here at Third Chapter hoped to be in Africa visiting universities and schools but because travel is now delayed by a few months, we have been working on building our structure and relationships. Our website will now have an Amazon link to print versions of a curated collection of African Studies titles. The first phase will have 280 books that were recommended by scholars and societies. Currently, we have a few titles live, but will be adding to this list as more content becomes available and we hope to develop independent relationships with the different Presses themselves. Please visit

We would love to connect with you, visit our Contact page to drop a note or ask us any questions!