Wawrzynski leads grant to improve LGBTQI+ support in Mozambique

January 8, 2024

Michigan State University Professor Matthew Wawrzynski received a $508,000 grant to provide sustainable support for LGBTQI+ students at Mozambique’s Eduardo Mondlane University. This is the second Mozambique-based project for Wawrzynski. He also received a grant to create career development centers in higher education institutions. Both projects are led by Wawrzynski and funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).  

“In many countries, members of the LGBTQI+ community  face overwhelming stressors in schools and communities directly related to sexual orientation and gender identity,” said Wawrzynski. “Some are bullied and targeted violently. Our work is to research and raise awareness of the rights of LGBTQI+ students and to create areas of support to improve the lives for those in this community.” 

Universidade Eduardo Mondlane students gather at an event hosted through Wawrzynski’s Higher Education Career Development Initiative. (Photo courtesy of Universidade Eduardo Mondlane)

The project, which started in October 2023, has a three-pronged approach: research, policy review and guidance. 


A team of scholars will conduct interviews and focus groups of LGBTQI+ students at Universidade Eduardo Mondlane (UEM). The findings will be disseminated to university faculty, staff and students.  

Through a series of iterative conversations with colleagues at UEM’s Coordination Centre for Gender Affairs (CeCAGe), USAID and the Mozambique Association for the Defence of Social Minorities (LAMBDA), Warzynski and fellow scholars constructed a plan.  

Portrait of Matt Wawrzynski
Professor Matthew Wawrzynski

“We determined if we’re able to approach and present awareness in a scholarly format, it is more likely to be accepted than to only provide a list of practical applications or support,” Wawrzynski explained. “This scholarship will also inform the development of strategies to enhance safety and success for LGBTQI+ students.” 

Policy Review

In addition, the team will also review internal policies at UEM to explore how policies allow for, or hinder, inclusivity and equity for all students at the university. Though the project will focus on the lived experiences of LGBTQI+ students, the policy review may find areas to support other groups, such as students with disabilities.  

“UEM is trying to establish more substantive opportunities, experiences and resources for students,” Wawrzynski explained. “Their connection to HECDI and to this project is an example of that.”  

UEM is one of the partner organizations in Wawrzynski’s Higher Education Career Development Initiative (HECDI). The four-year, $2 million grant project recently entered its third year — indicators thus far show progress. This latest grant is added to the HECDI grant funding. 

Future Guidance

A third pillar of the LGBTQI+ grant’s efforts are to provide supportive guidance that will last beyond the scope of the two-year grant. MSU and UEM are partnering with LAMBDA to enact change. 

Collaboratively, they will develop diversity-focused programming, strategies and educational modules for the UEM community.  

The grant’s initial scope will focus on areas of medicine, law and education. Graduates from these areas have direct interactions with the Mozambique population, and, especially in the case of education graduates, work with young children. It is expected the outputs will eventually connect with other academic disciplines. 

“Through this project, we will strengthen members of the LGBTQI+ community through training on knowledge, attitudes and skills to deal with violence based on sexual orientation and gender identity,” Wawrzynski added.