USG Teaching and Learning Conference: Best Practices for Promoting Engaged Student Learning
avatar for Florence Wakoko-Studstill

Florence Wakoko-Studstill

Columbus State University
Associate Professor
Columbus, GA
Who am I? This is what one student says about me at one of the interviews
Author: Megan Higgins, Honors Student, CSU (Sept. 6, 2015)

Dr. Florence Wakoko is currently a researcher employed by Columbus State University. Until this semester, she was a sociology professor, and taught several courses including, Introduction to Sociology, Race and Ethnic Relations, Sociology of Gender, Clinical Sociology, and many more. She received her BA in Political Science from Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda, and went on to receive a Master’s in Women’s Studies and Ph.D in Rural Sociology at The Ohio State University. Dr. Wakoko’s doctoral dissertation was on the effects of Microfinance (loans and personal savings) on women’s empowerment in rural Uganda. She was drawn toward this topic because she grew up in Uganda and has a passion for empowering others particularly women who have a disproportionate share of access to critical resources. This original area of study has led her to work on other area of similar interest over the years.
Prior to her doctoral research, Dr. Wakoko studied the role of the Uganda Commercial Bank Farmers’ Rural Credit Scheme in promoting food security. The Scheme was supported by funding from the World Bank, and it was designed to allocate 90% of the loans to rural women who produce 80% of the food in the country, and contribute significantly to the national Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Building on that study, Dr. Wakoko’s doctoral research explored how women living in two different regions of the country (Arua and Mukono districts), managed to perform their normative roles of production, reproduction, and community¬health by using multiple types of credit schemes (formal, semi¬formal, and informal microfinance). The key question she asked was whether microfinance transformed women’s lives, to make decisions that challenge conventional gender based roles and social expectations in the family. She found that personal savings derived from Rotating Savings and Credit Associations (ROSCAs) were more important even though they were much smaller amounts than bank loans. Small savings allowed women more autonomy, and ability to make choices regarding the allocation of family income on children’s education, which she states was the most surprising finding of this project. She then went on to publish a book from her dissertation, “Women and Microfinance in Uganda: From Rhetoric to Empowerment.” with VDM Verlag Dr. Müller (September 10, 2010).
In the last five years, Dr. Wakoko’s research has focused on assessing gender mainstreaming in veterinary medicine programs within the East African universities. Her study was part of the USAID¬HED supported project “Capacity Building in Integrated Management of Transboundary Animal Diseases and Zoonosis” (CIMTRADZ), a consortia initiative run by researchers from five universities in the US, one university in Canada, and six universities in East Africa. Her project “ Gender Auditing for Capacity Building...” aims at mainstreaming gender in the curriculum, establishing a mentoring and career guidance program for pre¬college female students, and starting a leadership program for university women “Higher Education Resource Services for East Africa (HERS¬EA)” which she helped to start in August, 2014, at Makerere University. She maintains that gender mainstreaming in veterinary education is important in Africa because disease outbreaks have no borders or gender preference. The examples of the recent cases of Ebola, Avian Influenza, and Marburg have left adverse effects on livelihoods in Africa, with far-reaching implications for women and children who constitute the most vulnerable population segments on the continent.
Last year (2014), Dr. Wakoko spent her summer in Uganda working on her research project, mentored graduate students in veterinary service learning project, and developed a gender focused curriculum for the MSc. program in Infectious Disease Management (