Dr Kofi Marfo

Professor and Founding Director​, Institute for Human Development​

A graduate of the University of Alberta, Canada (Ph.D) and the University of Cape Coast, Ghana (B.Ed. Honors), Dr Kofi Marfo came to AKU from the University of South Florida, where he was a full professor for 22 years and Founding D​​irector of the Center for Research on Children’s Development and Learning. After a brief post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Alberta, he accepted his first academic appointment in North America as an assistant professor at Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada. Four years later, he moved to Kent State University (Ohio) as an associate professor for three years before assuming the full professorship at the University of South Florida. Dr. Marfo began his university teaching career at age 25 at the University of Cape Coast, his Alma Mater.

His current scholarly interests are in the areas of develop​mental science, social policy and childhood interventions; the advancement of a global science of human development; and philosophical issues in behavioral science and education research. He has published extensively in the areas of early child development, early intervention efficacy, parent-child interaction, behavioral development in children adopted from China, and childhood disability in low- and middle-income countries. His scholarly works have been cited over 1,200 times worldwide in over 180 different journals spanning multiple disciplines and fields. 

Dr Marfo has gained significant international recognition for his contributions to the higher education and society. He served on the World Health Organization’s Task Force for the International Classification of Functioning in Disability and Health (ICF). He has been a Noted Scholar in Residence at the University of British Columbia, Canada, and a visiting Professor at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute), the University of Victoria, Canada, and Cairo University, Egypt. He has served as an external examiner for doctoral dissertations from universities in Australia, Canada, South Africa, and Sweden. He has given keynote addresses in Australia, Canada, Germany, New Zealand, and South Africa.

A recipient of the Canadian Association for Educational Psychology's G. M. Dunlop Award for Best Doctoral Dissertation, Dr Marfo has been a U.S. National Academy of Education Spencer Fellow, a Zero to Three Irving B. Harris Mid-Career Leadership Fellow, and a Residential Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University. Dr Marfo has served as Associate Editor of the Journal of Early Intervention and on the Editorial Boards of Early Childhood Research Quarterly, Developmental Disabilities Bulletin, Journal of Psychology in Africa, Child Health and Education, NHSA Dialog (National Head Start Association), and the International Journal of Educational Policy, Research, and Practice. He has served on Review Committees for the US Department of Education/Institute for Education Sciences and was a foundation member of the Bio behavioral and Behavioral Sciences Subcommittee of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) for four years.

After 25 years of educational and applied developmental research in Canada and the United States, Dr Marfo began devoting more of his time to child development research capacity enhancement in Africa. He was co-convener of the Invitational Conference on "Strengthening Africa's Contributions to Child Development Research" funded in 2008 by the Society for Research in Child Development (SRCD). Papers from that conference were published in Volume 5, Number 2 of Child Development Perspectives. That initiative, co-led with his University of Victoria colleague, Dr. Alan Pence, culminated in the founding of the African Child Development Scholars Workshop series.​

​Dr Marfo has served on the Governing Council of the Society for Research in Child Development. He co-chaired (with Dr. Anne Masten of the University of Minnesota) the planning meetings that led to the establishment of the Forum on Investing in Young Children Globally (2014-2016) by the then Institute of Medicine of the National Academies of Science. He has served in advisory roles for two private foundations and on technical and scientific advisory committees for a number of institutions, including the Center of Excellence in Human Development (South Africa) and Innovation Edge (South Africa). In 2015, he became the Chair of the Board of Trustees for  the newly established African Early Childhood Network (AfECN).