We are incredibly proud to announce that the African History through the Lens of Economics lecture series has been awarded the European Economic Association’s Award for Innovation in Teaching.
The EEA aims to contribute to the development and application of economics, improve communication and exchange between educators, researchers, and students in economics in different countries, as well as develop and sponsor co-operation between teaching and research institutions in Europe. The EEA Award for Innovation in Teaching is given to individuals and groups who have demonstrated innovation in their teaching.
The last two decades have seen a surge of research on African history as academics sought to understand the way in which the history of Africa continues to influence its modern economic, social, and political landscape. The African History through the Lens of Economics initiative was a first of its kind open-access lecture series developed by the Wheeler Institute for Business and Development. The series gathered over 27000 people from more than 160 countries and 1000 universities between March to August 2022 to gain insight into cutting-edge research on Africa’s economic history and political economy. The lectures brought together a global audience who share a curiosity about Africa’s intricate political and economic history and the way in which these dynamics have ultimately contributed to the continent’s greatest challenges.
The core teaching team included, Elias Papaioannou, Professor of Economics and Co-Academic Director of the Wheeler Institute for Business Development, Stelios Michalopoulos, Eastman Professor of Economics, Brown University, Nathan Nunn, Frederic E. Abbe Professor of Economics, Harvard University, and Leonard Wantchekon, Maddison Professor of Politics and International Affairs, Princeton University, as well as guest speakers and collaborators who participated as moderators and teaching assistants. The team delivered 24 lectures with an average of 1126 live attendees per session and a total of 57 hours of on-demand YouTube content that generated 304000+ views.
The lecture series embarked on a comprehensive exploration of Africa’s historical journey, delving into topics such as precolonial political and social structures, the salve trade, the ‘Scramble for Africa’, colonisation and the struggle for independence. The sessions integrated both historical and contemporary datasets, which included geospatial information, archive records, anthropological maps, and social narratives, whilst discussing the way in which researchers across social sciences have leveraged these diverse sources. There were also opportunities to highlight the significance of interdisciplinary research, which involved examining aspects such as the enduring impact of private concessionary companies during colonisation, the influence of Christian missionaries, the complexities of prison labour, colonial tax policies, the ramifications of foreign aid, insights into the psychology of African populations and contemplations on the future trajectory of the continent.
“We expected around 200 participants,” Elias Papaioannou, Professor of Economics and Co-Academic Director of the Wheeler Institute for Business and Development, said. “We got 27000. Besides the huge interest, most importantly, the participants were from 160 countries, the majority from Africa, with fresh insights and cool ideas for future research. This award firmly establishes our course as a global leader in fostering innovative, diversified economic thinking. We’re already in the planning stages for the second iteration of the course, harnessing the momentum generated by the first.”
The African History through the Lens of Economics drew on research from the core teaching team, as well as Elias Papaioannou’s ongoing research project on African colonisation, which is funded by a European Research Council Consolidator Grant and supported by the Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR) and the Structural Transformation and Economic Growth (STEG) Initiative. It offered an unparalleled opportunity to hear from a range of academics from different institutions at various stages of their careers.
For more information about the course, including the programme, teaching team and engagement highlights, please visit the dedicated webpage.
Highlights from the lecture series:
About the European Economic Association
The European Economic Association (EEA) is an International scientific body, with membership open to all persons involved or interested in economics, that promotes the development of economic science throughout Europe, as well as communication between educators, researchers and students, the links between university and research centres and relations between academic economists and policymakers.