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Dr. Allan K. Birabi of Makerere University, Uganda, is Fulbright Visiting Scholar

Nov. 26, 2008 -- Dr. Allan Kenneth Birabi, of Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda, visited Arkansas State University-Jonesboro as a Fulbright Visiting Scholar thisDr. Allan K. Birabi of Uganda recently completed a research project in Built Heritage Conservation Management as a Fulbright Visiting Scholar under the aegis of ASU's Heritage Studies PhD program. semester, from September-November, 2008. A lecturer and architectural conservator in Makerere University’s Department of Architecture, Dr. Birabi focused on research to help him design a course and curriculum in Built Heritage Conservation Management. Dr. Birabi selected ASU for his research due to ASU’s unique PhD program in Heritage Studies, under the direction of Dr. Clyde A. Milner II. Dr. Birabi also believed that ASU’s centrality in the United States was important, since this visit to Arkansas marked his first visit to the United States.

Recipients of Fulbright awards are selected on the basis of academic and professional achievement, as well as demonstrated leadership potential in their fields. Dr. Birabi holds a bachelor of arts degree in Fine Arts from Makerere University; a post-graduate degree in Art Education (Makerere); a master’s degree in Fine Arts (Makerere); an M. Phil degree in Architecture from the University of Newcastle, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, U.K.; postgraduate diplomas in Conservation and Management of Historic Buildings and Urban Shelter, Design, and Development, both  from Lund University, Sweden; and a PhD in Architectural Conservation from a collaboration of five universities, of which Makerere University was the final awarding institution. Dr. Birabi is married to Olive Birabi, and they have four children. His wife is also an academic.

While at ASU, Dr. Birabi presented several lectures, including “The Power of Cultural Semiotics in the Built Environment: Case Study—Africa,” in which he provided fine arts students with an overview of the cultural geography of Africa in the 11th-14th centuries. He also presented a lecture, “The Context of Built Heritage Conservation Education in the United States of America,” to students in the Heritage Studies PhD program. This presentation summed up Dr. Birabi’s research in the United States. His research was focused on developing a model for creating and promoting a cultural and historic architectural preservation post-doctoral program in Uganda.

“Uganda has few heritage resources in terms of architecture,” Dr. Birabi noted, “and those that exist are products of 19th -century and 20th-century colonial architecture. Some of them are threatened, because sometimes the post-colonial intelligentsia believes these buildings are a symbol of cultural oppression, and so should be eliminated. These same people believe that only newer buildings, the products of Uganda’s independence, should be noteworthy.”

Dr. Birabi continues, “ I am interested in the architectural phenomena of embodied energy, the energy it took to build these 19th- and 20th –century buildings—the energy used to transport materials, the energy used to collect the materials, energy used to design the buildings, and the energy in labor that it took to build them. That energy is a resource that is precious, just as the materials are precious resources. So historic buildings are our biggest reserve of embodied energy, and therefore, we should preserve them. They have architectural value, and they did contribute to our national development. These colonial buildings have unique features, excellent quality construction and materials, and good design. If we want to develop cultural tourism and help to develop our economy, we need to preserve these buildings.”

The impetus to seek the Fulbright award was, for Dr. Birabi, based on researching a model academic program that could benefit his country, and ASU, with its PhD in Heritage Studies, was an excellent fit—central enough to perform research, and comfortably temperate in climate. Through a methodology that was both qualitative and quantitative, he succeeded in finding the best pathway for historic preservation education adaptable to developing countries, using Uganda as a case study. He stresses the importance of interdisciplinarity in such a program, and was able to observe interdisciplinarity at work in ASU’s Heritage Studies program. He hopes to use his paper, “The Context of Built Heritage Conservation Education in the United States of America” to develop an integrated mode of education for the curriculum and course design of a Built Heritage Conservation Management program when he returns to his home university in Africa.

Dr. Birabi is one of approximately 850 outstanding foreign faculty and professionals who will teach and do research in the United States through the Fulbright Visiting Scholar Program. The Fulbright Program, America’s flagship international exchange program, is sponsored by the United States Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

Since its establishment in 1946 under legislation introduced by the late Senator J. William Fulbright of Arkansas, the Fulbright Program has provided approximately 286,500 people—108,160 Americans who have studied, taught, or researched abroad, and 178,340 students, scholars, and teachers from other countries who have engaged in similar activities in the United States—with the opportunity to observe each others’ political, economic, educational, and cultural institutions, to exchange ideas, and to embark on joint ventures of importance to the general welfare of the world’s inhabitants. The Fulbright Program operates in more than 155 countries worldwide.

For more information on the Fulbright Program, or the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, visit, contact James A. Lawrence, Office of Academic Exchange Programs, at (202) 453-8531, or e-mail



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