Highlighting the stories of Drake students and faculty
Assistant Professor of Rhetoric, Media and Social Change Godfried Asante has an acute understanding of his subject of choice. Born and raised in Ghana but educated post-secondary in the U.S., Asante speaks four languages: English, French and two local languages from his home city, Accra.
“I’m from Ghana. I speak English, and now I’m here. I quickly understood the idea of discourse, and I really wanted to pursue that a little bit more,” Asante said. “I got really interested in how knowledge is constituted and how it’s passed around.”
Asante began his position at Drake in the fall of 2017 after completing his undergraduate and master’s degrees in Minnesota and his PhD in New Mexico.
For Asante, growing up in Accra, Ghana was “great.” He has ten siblings with whom he is still very close.
“I grew up in a time where my generation in Ghana, we saw the transitions from black and white to color TV,” Asante said. “We saw the introduction of U.S. goods, so things began to change.”
The country’s capital hosts nearly three million people, but he described his community as very tight-knit. His mother, who is his biggest life influence, established her own church and showed him what an effective leader looks like.
Though he enjoys living in Des Moines, he still misses home sometimes.
“I’ve always said I wish I could put one foot there, one foot here, and then I could go back and forth,” Asante said.
His interest in social justice, he says, sprouted partly from “my sexual orientation (and) growing up in a place where it’s still illegal, so you tend to really grow some tough skin,” Asante said. “You want social justice. You want things to happen to make people more comfortable.”
For most of his life, he didn’t expect to become a teacher. Even today, his friends are surprised by the path his career has taken.
When he began his teaching assistantship during his master’s program, however, he realized the great influence he could have in social justice as a professor.
“This (teaching) was missing from the picture, trying to give back to my community in some way, trying to challenge them to think,” Asante said. “Although I’m not in a community making those changes, I’m crafting somebody’s mind to help them do that.”
As for his students at Drake, he finds many of his own qualities reflected back at him.
“Drake students are very passionate about education,” Asante said. “They are willing and open to learning, they are willing to be challenged a lot, so I really like that. They keep me on my toes. They are always looking for something more, and I’m always looking for something more.”
In his free time, Asante likes to work out, bike and play the African flute. When he’s not doing these things or preparing his classes, he’s shaping his current research into a book about how queer men in Ghana navigate discriminatory policies.
You can find Asante this semester teaching Rhetorics of Sex and Gender and Environmental Communication.