Highlights: Fostering Great Leaders - A Conversation with Vice Chancellor Adam Habib

South Africa Partners

On Thursday, April 12, South Africa Partners hosted University of Witwatersrand Vice Chancellor Adam Habib at the Harvard Kennedy School to engage in a conversation about what student activism has revealed about South Africa's young future leaders. The Vice-Chancellor reflected on his experience with the Fees Must Fall movement and the parallels seen in the U.S. with current student-led movements such as Black Lives Matter and March for Our Lives.

In a conversation moderated by Rajini Srikanth, Dean of the Honors College and Professor of English at UMass Boston, the Vice-Chancellor remarked on how the university experience in South Africa contributes to leadership development among students, "the real skill in leadership, is learning to navigate a world that is diverse, a more cosmopolitan world. How do you make the kinds of hard decisions that have to be made? How do you grapple with the political questions of our time? The reason the South African universities do well is because they are so diverse, so complex, that the landscape forces you to learn outside the classroom as much as you learn inside the classroom. Whether you're on the soccer field or the cricket field, in the museum or the cafeteria, the fact that you have to navigate beyond race, beyond class, beyond religion, beyond culture, forces you to learn soft skills. It is the soft skills that transform you from a great professional to a great leader."

Harvard College student Mfundo Radebe and Yvette Efevbera, doctoral candidate at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, engaged in the discussion by reflecting on their personal experiences as student leaders in South Africa and the U.S.

Those who missed it can see the Facebook Live feed here:

Photo credits: Paul Drake