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Mandela Washington Fellows at Rutgers

MWF smallThis summer, Rutgers University hosted its third cohort of Mandela Washington Fellows (MWF), the flagship program of President Obama’s Young African Leadership Initiative. The Mandela Washington Fellowship is a flagship program of President Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) that empowers young African leaders through academic coursework, leadership training, mentoring, networking, professional opportunities, and support for activities in their communities. Fellows are young leaders from sub-Saharan Africa who have a proven record of accomplishment in promoting innovation and positive change in their organizations, institutions, or communities. New this year to Rutgers, is the addition of a Business and Entrepreneurship Institute, led by Kevin Lyons, on Decision Making for Environmentally Sustainable Supply Chains. Of the 40 Universities across the US who hosted MWF Institutes, Rutgers was one of only 3 to host two Institutes, and the only host university in New Jersey. In this intensive 6-week institute, the MWF Fellows examined many of the elements contributing to the adoption of sustainability strategies, such as legislations that penalize negative environmental and social impacts, and society’s expectations of business in terms of health, human rights, and the environment. Fellows were instructed in the basics and in the challenges for the energy and sustainability sectors in developing countries, sub-Saharan Africa in particular.

Instruction for the Institute was led by Kevin Lyons, the Academic Director, as well as Associate Director of the Rutgers Energy Institute, and a core of faculty from the Center for Supply Chain Management at Rutgers Business School. Faculty from other schools and departments at Rutgers including the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, the School of Arts and Sciences (Chemistry), the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences, and the School of Engineering (Materials Science and Engineering). Guest speakers were invited from a range of businesses including small startups, venture capital groups, medium sized enterprises and large multinational corporations.

Lyons and ObamaREVThe in-class learning experience was supplemented with site visits concentrating on sustainable business models, innovation incubators and local energy business innovators. During the course, Fellows had the opportunity to visit a variety of facilities on campus including the Rutgers EcoComplex and other energy research laboratories in order to understand the entire process of moving sustainable technologies into the marketplace. Site visits also included sessions at Rutgers Business School in Newark and working with high school students in the Rutgers Business School High School Summer Program and the Governor’s School for Engineering and Technology. Many of the faculty and guest speakers who participated in the Institute are continuing to interact with the Fellows and hope to form lasting partnerships and collaborations.

For more information about the program, contact Johanna Bernstein.

(Dr. Kevin Lyons and President Barack Obama)