Biographical Sketch - Kofi Marfo, PhD

Kofi Marfo holds the official title of Professor Emeritus at two institutions: University of South Florida (Tampa, USA), where he was a Distinguished University Professor nominee, and Aga Khan University (East Africa), where he was the Founding Director of the Institute for Human Development based in Nairobi, Kenya. He has held research and faculty positions at six universities across three geographic regions: North America, West and East Africa, and South-Central Asia. 

A graduate of the University of Cape Coast (Ghana) and the University of Alberta (Canada), his scholarly interests during his 42-year career have converged around four themes:  development and parenting of children with disabilities; application of developmental science to early childhood interventions and social policy; exploration of philosophical and paradigmatic issues in behavioral science and education research, and advancement of a global science of human development.  His published works, cited widely across multiple fields and disciplines, include five edited volumes and approximately 100 journal articles and book chapters. 

Kofi has been a Residential Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University, a U.S. National Academy of Education Spencer Fellow, an Irving B. Harris Mid-Career Leadership Fellow (Zero to Three Leaders of the 21st Century Program), a foundation member of the Bio-Behavioral and Behavioral Sciences Subcommittee of the Eunice Kennedy-Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (USA), a member of the Governing Council of the Society for Research in Child Development, and the inaugural Chair of the Board of Trustees for the Africa Early Childhood Network (AfECN). He co-chaired the planning process culminating in the launch of the US National Academy of Science’s three-year initiative on “Investing in Young Children Globally” (2014-2017). He served on the World Health Organization’s Technical Group tasked with formulating the Nurturing Care Framework for Early Childhood Development. He has most recently served as co-chair of the Scientific Advisory Council on Forgiveness Research established in 2021 by the Templeton World Charity Foundation to guide the foundation’s Discover Forgiveness initiative. 

For 18 years, Kofi collaborated with Alan Pence of the University of Victoria (Canada) in building capacity for strong early childhood programs and policies on the African continent through the Early Childhood Virtual University initiative founded by Alan. That work, along with the duo’s convening of the 2009 SRCD-funded invitational conference on the theme of Strengthening Child Development Research in Africa, culminated in the establishment of the Africa Child Development Scholars Workshop series that has been influential in mentoring researchers on the continent. 

Kofi is coeditor, with Professor Robert Serpell of the University of Zambia, of “Child development in Africa: Views from inside” a 2014 volume in the Wiley Periodical Series New Directions in Child & Adolescent Development (Number 146). His just-completed manuscript “Career Come Full Circle: My Journey in Disciplinary, Paradigmatic, and Geo-Cultural Boundary-Crossing” will appear in the forthcoming Cambridge University Press volume “Pillars of Developmental Psychology: Recollections and Reflections” edited by Frank Kessel of the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque. 

Kofi and his wife (Rose) are devoting much of their early retirement years to the launch of their self-funded legacy projects in their native Ghana. In his home town, a Center for the Future of Children and Youth will (1) house a public library and an information and communications technology (ICT) unit to serve school clusters and communities in the area, and (2) deliver programs in social media education, leadership development for youth, wealth creation for low-income groups, and enhancement of early childhood development, health and nutrition. In Rose’s home town, a water purification factory is in operation and delivering high quality drinking water in communities affected by widespread water pollution and poor sanitation, while plans are in progress for the donation of an Intensive Care Unit to the municipal public hospital to enhance survival and optimal development in children born under conditions of high risk.

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