Harvard University Expands its commitment to Africa with Opening of a Center for African Studies Office on the Continent

June 1, 2017
johannesburg cas ribbon cutting

On May 31st, Harvard University opened its first cross-disciplinary research center in Sub-Saharan Africa, building a new platform for African and Africanist academic exchange. With the opening of a Center for African Studies office on May 31, 2017 in Johannesburg, South Africa the University further demonstrates its commitment to research, collaboration, and knowledge-sharing in Africa.

The Center for African Studies (CAS) is an internationally recognized interdisciplinary body at Harvard University that aims to broaden public and scholarly awareness about Africa, African experiences and perspectives.

The Harvard CAS Africa Office will facilitate and strengthen relationships with business, cultural, and academic leaders across the African continent. Working with its companion office in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA, the office will lower barriers to research for African and international scholars across the continent and serve as a resource for the increasing number of Harvard students and faculty members conducting research and traveling to Africa.

Harvard identified the need to establish a physical presence on the African continent as a logical step in the institution’s development, and as part of its commitment to being a global University. With the opening of the CAS Africa Office, Harvard is notably better positioned to increase collaboration with Africans, scholarly institutions and strengthen ties with Harvard Alumni in Africa, enhancing dialogue and meaningful collaborations.

A key objective for Harvard CAS is to build upon existing connections with universities and other educational institutions by facilitating inter-faculty research and student exchange, both on Harvard’s campus and on the continent.

Currently, there are over 3000 Harvard Alumni living in Africa, with a third living in South Africa. More than 100 Harvard faculty members are conducting research and teaching on topics related to Africa. A large number of new students originate from African countries such as Nigeria, South Africa, Egypt, Kenya, and Zimbabwe.

The Provost of Harvard University, Professor Alan M. Garber, and the Center for African Studies’ Faculty Director Emmanuel Akyeampong, together with Obenewa Amponsah, the recently appointed Africa office Executive Director, will officially open the Africa office, hosting a number of activities on May 31st.

A Vice-Chancellor’s Roundtable will be facilitated for academic leaders from Harvard and African institutions from across the continent. Participants will convene to discuss mutual areas of research and to deliberate upon the theme, Education for Development.

Subsequently, the Center for African Studies will host the 2ndAnnual Hakeem and Myma Belo-Osagie Distinguished African Business and Entrepreneurship Lecture, which is open to the public. The Lecture draws lessons from prominent African leaders and will feature three prominent panelists. The panel for the public lecture comprises Former President of the African Development Bank & African Union Special Envoy for Finance & Peace Fund, Donald Kaberuka; Chief Executive Officer for Sygnia Group, Magda Wierzycka; and winner of the 2017 Harvard Business School Africa Business Leadership Excellence Award, Euvin Naidoo.

An African Identities art exhibition, curated by !Kauru African Contemporary Art will also be showcased at the public lecture. The exhibition will display 25 pieces from renowned art collector, Bayo Solarin and is the first in a series of cultural and artistic exhibitions the Center for African Studies plans to host. Attendees will be challenged to engage with the works and to participate in conversations around social and economic development within Africa’s creative sector.

Moving forward, the Center for African Studies will function as a hub for academic thought in the field of African studies and act as a cross-pollinator of ideas.

For more information and additional details, visit Harvard’s Center for African Studies online at africa.harvard.edu.

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