Salovey trip to Africa marks a decade of increased engagement

In his third visit to the continent, President Peter Salovey is reinforcing Yale’s commitment to global collaboration and educational partnerships.
President Salovey talking with Rwandan youth

President Salovey traveled to Kinigi in the northwestern region of Rwanda with Yale School of the Environment's Amy Vedder (at right in photo) who has worked for decades with partners in the country. They met with local communities and NGOs to discuss conservation efforts. (Photo by Ian Christmann)

During Yale’s spring break, President Peter Salovey is traveling in Africa, his third visit to the continent as the university’s leader, reinforcing Yale’s commitment to global collaboration and extending the university’s outreach to foster educational partnerships.

The trip, which includes visits to Côte d'Ivoire and Rwanda, marks a broadening of this outreach to cultivate new and ongoing collaborations with Francophone African countries, with a focus on issues of global importance. Among these are environmental conservation, economic growth, and access to higher education.

I am thrilled to visit Rwanda and Côte d’Ivoire this week to mark a decade of Yale’s increased engagement across Africa,” Salovey said. “My goal is to expand our outreach for new and ongoing collaborations, and as this is my first time visiting a Francophone African country, my travels underscore the importance of engaging broadly in the continent.

The discussions I am having on this trip with institutional partners and alumni are helping us to explore how Yale might continue to build networks and establish educational and research initiatives with colleagues across Africa to address global challenges.”

Strengthening educational and cultural ties in Côte d'Ivoire

Salovey arrived today in the Côte d'Ivoire capital of Abidjan, where he will meet with government ministers and officials from the African Development Bank, underscoring the trip's focus on fostering educational collaborations and economic development initiatives. A reception will follow, providing an opportunity for networking and strengthening the bond between Yale and its Ivorian counterparts and alumni.

Salovey will attend a roundtable discussion with students from the International Community School of Abidjan and other schools across the city, hosted by the U.S. embassy. During his conversations with students, the Yale president will answer questions, share insights into Yale’s educational philosophy, and encourage them to be lifelong learners.

The visit will also include a meeting with local university presidents which will focus on enhancing educational exchanges and partnerships between Ivorian institutions and Yale.

Engaging in environmental and educational collaboration in Rwanda

Earlier in the trip, Salovey visited Rwanda to meet with those involved in Yale’s environmental and educational initiatives there. During a poignant visit to the Kigali Genocide Memorial, Salovey paid homage to the victims of the Rwandan genocide. This visit underscored the importance of remembrance of the past to inform efforts to prevent future conflicts, he said, highlighting Yale's commitment to the study and promotion of human rights.

That same day, Salovey addressed environmental research during meetings with Jeanne d'Arc Mujawamariya, Rwanda’s minister of environment, and other Rwandan environmental leaders. He explored avenues for collaboration between Yale and Rwanda on sustainability and conservation projects, emphasizing the role of academic institutions in tackling global environmental challenges.

The Yale delegation was joined by representatives from Yale School of the Environment (YSE), for a trip to Volcanoes National Park, located in northwestern Rwanda, to observe the country’s conservation efforts firsthand, reinforcing Yale's commitment to biodiversity conservation.

YSE, which offers Yale master’s and Ph.D. students the opportunity to travel to Rwanda to study conservation of wildlife and wildlands, has learned from several highly successful Rwandan government and public-private initiatives.

President Salovey with a group of people.
President Salovey is pictured with participants at the conclusion of a policy dialog in Kigali, Rwanda, March 11 titled, “Collaboration through Research: Pathways to Evidence-based Policy in Rwanda.” (Photo by Ian Christmann)

This year for the first time, through a partnership between YSE, the University of Rwanda, and the Smithsonian Institution, we will be able to bring an equal number of Rwandan master’s or Ph.D. students to join a major portion of the study tour, experiencing the outstanding biodiversity of the parks, their management, and their relationship to communities at their borders,” said Amy Vedder, a lecturer at Yale School of the Environment who participated in the president’s visit. “We look forward to the networking and joint learning that will ensue, knowing that such an experience can contribute significantly to leadership development here in Rwanda as well as with our globally recruited students.”

Subsequently, Salovey met with a women's cooperative group to discuss their vital role in rural adaptation to climate change, showcasing the university’s engagement with partners to support community-driven environmental initiatives.

In Rwanda, Salovey also delivered welcoming remarks that described Yale’s contribution to transforming research into policy in Africa at a policy dialogue titled, “Collaboration through Research: Pathways to Evidence-based Policy in Rwanda.”

The event brought together researchers from Yale’s Economic Growth Center (EGC), Yale Inclusion Economics, and the International Growth Centre, and featured presentations by Yale professors Lauren Falcao Bergquist, from the Yale Jackson School of Global Affairs and Yale’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences, and Kevin Donovan, from the Yale School of Management. Falcao Bergquist and Donovan, who are both economics faculty members and EGC affiliates, spoke about their research on industrial policies to boost exports and rural infrastructure investments to mitigate climate change effects.

Underlining the importance of research-policy partnerships in Rwanda and the mutual benefits of academic collaboration, the event was chaired by Rwanda Minister of Commerce and Industry Jean-Chrysostome Ngabitsinze. The event also provided a chance for participants to engage with Rwandan counterparts and organizations, such as Bridges to Prosperity, which helps build bridges to better lives in rural communities, to discuss research and pathways to impact in Rwanda to address economic and environmental challenges. Learn more about the policy dialogue by visiting the EGC website.

The visit also included a meeting with Eric Kneedler, the U.S. ambassador to Rwanda, which included an overview of the country and a discussion on the importance of increased collaboration between U.S. and African institutions.

Fostering global partnerships for a sustainable future

The visit to Côte d'Ivoire and Rwanda exemplifies Yale’s dedication to strengthening global partnerships in education, environmental conservation, and economic development, Salovey said. In addition to underscoring the university’s commitment to addressing global challenges, the trip also highlighted the potential for academic institutions to contribute significantly to international diplomacy and collaboration.

In his inaugural remarks as Yale’s president in 2013, Salovey launched an initiative to strengthen ties between Yale and Africa by fostering new directions in research on Africa, and identifying new partnerships and deepening existing ones, all while transforming the educational experiences and career opportunities of students at Yale and in Africa. Throughout his tenure as president, Yale has continued to leverage the power of partnerships and global networks across the continent to create new knowledge in science, public health, business, and other disciplines — and to improve lives around the globe.

As Yale continues to build and strengthen these partnerships, Salovey said the impacts of these collaborations across the African continent are expected to resonate far beyond the immediate participants, to foster a more interconnected and mutually supportive global academic community.

To learn more about Yale and Africa, visit the Yale and the World website.

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