Roopali Phadke and Jamie Monson

St. Paul, Minn. – Macalester College has granted tenure status to Jamie Monson, professor in the History Department, and Roopali Phadke, associate professor of Environmental Studies Policy & Politics in the Environmental Studies Department.

Monson received her BA from Stanford University and her MA and PhD from the University of California, Los Angeles.  She joined the Macalester faculty in 2009 as a professor.

Monson became interested in Africa when she served as an agriculture volunteer for the Peace Corps in rural Kenya in 1980.  She then completed her PhD in African History at UCLA and took her first teaching position at Carleton College in 1991 where she was a professor of African History.

Her early research focus was on agricultural and environmental history of southern Tanzania, and she has also worked on anti-colonial warfare in German East Africa.  In the late 1990s, Monson began a new research project on the history of the TAZARA railway, built with Chinese development aid in Tanzania and Zambia in the 1960s and 1970s.  Her book, Africa’s Freedom Railway – How a Chinese Development Project Changed Lives and Livelihoods in Tanzania, originally published by Indiana University Press in 2009, has just come out in paperback.  She has also just completed a book co-edited with James Giblin, Maji Maji: Lifting the Fog of War (Brill Press, 2010).

For the last three years Monson has been studying the history of China-Africa relations (and learning Chinese), and she recently spent 14 months doing research in China, Tanzania and Zambia.  Her new project is a study of technology transfer in the history of Chinese development assistance to Africa.  A second project uses records of visits made by African women’s delegations to China during the Cultural Revolution to examine gendered aspects of civil diplomacy.  In addition to these research interests, she also teaches courses and workshops on the ethics of civic engagement. In the coming academic year (2011-2012), she will be a senior research fellow at the Humboldt University in Berlin, Germany.

Monson teaches general African history, African environmental history, the ethics of volunteer service, and historical memory and narrative.

Phadke received her BA from Wellesley College, MA from Cornell University and PhD from the University of California, Santa Cruz.  She joined the Macalester faculty in 2005 as an assistant professor.

Phadke’s research and teaching is at the nexus of environmental studies, international development and science and technology studies.   Her interests lie in the democratization of science and technology decision-making and the hybridization of technical expertise and local knowledge.  Her current research focuses on water and energy resources development.  

Phadke’s work over the last decade has focused on how river basin technologies, such as dams and canals, can be more sustainably and democratically designed and managed. Her research interests are in the areas of community-based environmentalism and the role of citizens and citizens’ groups in technical and scientific decision-making.

Her current National Science Foundation-funded research examines community concerns with wind energy development. Her research describes strategies, ranging from more responsible computer simulations to community economic benefits packages, which may help limit conflict and produce more socially acceptable projects.

Phadke and her students are sponsoring citizen forums in five states to engage communities in articulating their concerns and desired outcomes in advance of development projects. These community forums are modeling best practices in wind energy planning and environmental impact assessment.

Phadke teaches Environmental Politics and Policy, Sustainable Development, Water and Power, and Citizen Science.

Macalester College, founded in 1874, is a national liberal arts college with a full-time enrollment of 1,958 students. Macalester is nationally recognized for its long-standing commitment to academic excellence, internationalism, multiculturalism and civic engagement.  Learn more at

March 3 2011

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