Through a two-day event on 09 and 10 June 2021, the CAS Africa Office convened Partnerships in STEM Innovation and Future Africa: A Virtual Symposium. The symposium aims to provide a platform for a two-way exchange of ideas and highlight ongoing CAS-funded and supported STEM research led by Harvard faculty and their Africa-based co-investigators, including research carried out by the Africa Research, Implementation Science, and Education (ARISE) Network during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The World Bank has advocated that the “economic and social prosperity of countries depends on the state of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).” These fields of research can provide for a deeper understanding of problems in the African context and an opportunity for new discoveries by researchers to solve challenges and advance future development. The COVID-19 pandemic has presented new challenges for healthcare, food security, and education, and the global response effort has relied on STEM advancements from biomedicine and the use virtual technology, demonstrating but one example of the increased importance of STEM-based solutions to combat novel challenges. Research carried out through the Motsepe Presidential Research Accelerator Fund and by partnerships like the ARISE Network contribute directly to solutions that advance well-being, address the challenges of a changing climate, and promote education access for all in Africa.
Over two days, the inaugural symposium will create a dialogue through exploration of four thematic areas: (i) Child and Adolescent Health and Development; (ii) Nutrition, Climate, and Environment; (iii) Effects of COVID-19 on Health and Healthcare Delivery, and (iv) African Languages and STEM.
The symposium will feature presentations by inaugural awardees of the Motsepe Presidential Research Accelerator Fund for Africa and their Africa-based research partners. The event will also feature presentations from the ARISE Network on COVID-19 and Africa. Symposium participants will have an opportunity to engage the presenters and provide input to ongoing research. Each day will feature a keynote address focusing on the importance of supporting STEM research in Africa and exploring policies to support gender equity in STEM education.