Welcome Back Message from CAS Interim Oppenheimer Faculty Director

September 9, 2020


Dear Students, Faculty, Researchers, Staff, and Friends of CAS,

As the summer has drawn to a close and we begin an academic year unlike any other, I hope this message finds you in good health and in good spirits. Although the semester ahead will require us to be physically distanced from one another, we hope to find many opportunities to remain socially united as a CAS Community.

Last month marked a milestone in the coronavirus pandemic as detected cases in Africa passed the 1 million mark. Through a partnership with the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), the Center for African Studies has reached thousands of participants with our COVID and Africa webinar series. We will resume the series on September 23 at 10am EST with a session on The Role of Digital Health & Telemedicine moderated by Dr. Rebecca Weintraub (Faculty Director of the Global Health Delivery Project at Harvard University). On September 30, Africa CDC director Dr. John Nkengasong will join us to provide the latest updates on a pandemic that has impacted health, livelihoods, and education across the continent. Through this series, we will continue to explore not only the impacts of the pandemic but also the opportunities and ingenuity that have arisen in response. Registration will be live in next week's newsletter.

On October 1 and 2, we will host a virtual conference on Women and the Changing Face of Entrepreneurship in Africa. A collaboration between Harvard University’s Center for African Studies, the London Stock Exchange Group (LSEG), Lionesses of Africa, and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), with support from Standard Bank and Empower Africa, the conference brings into partnership a leading research university, a major policy institution of the United Nations, a major network of women entrepreneurs in Africa, one of the most important stock exchanges in the world, a leading African banking group, and a values based network driving sustainable economic development. Over two days, the deliberations of the conference will provide a clearer understanding of the landscape of women’s entrepreneurship on the continent as we hear from more than two dozen women entrepreneurs from across the continent. The second day will feature the annual Hakeem and Myma Belo-Osagie Distinguished Lecture on Business in Africa, delivered by Dr. Vera Songwe, United Nations Under Secretary-General and Executive Secretary, Economic Commission for Africa. Please RSVP to join us here.

We are also excited to share several new funding opportunities for faculty and students this semester. As announced earlier today in the Harvard Gazette, the Center for African Studies in partnership with the Office for the Vice Provost of Research will administer the Motsepe Presidential Research Accelerator Fund for Africa. Thanks to the generosity of the Motsepe Foundation, these grants will provide faculty in STEM fields with funding for research projects that focus on advancing key challenges and opportunities facing Africa. Additional student grant opportunities can be found on our website.

Central to everything we do at CAS is that African voices and perspectives inform the research and educational activities that are central to our academic mission at Harvard University as we work with partners across the continent to recognize that Africa shapes its own narrative. To disseminate advances in this regard, we are delighted to establish a new platform, Africa Matters @ Harvard, a twice a semester publication starting in October that will feature profiles of faculty and student research, write-ups from our events, and other Africa-related happenings on campus and from our alumni and partners in the region.

We look forward to you joining us at many of our virtual gatherings in the weeks and months ahead, and to your active participation in advancing our community in any way that you can. As always, I welcome your feedback and suggestions on our activities at CAS and appreciate your continued support.

Best wishes,