In 2005, the Africana Research Center and the Department of African and African American Studies initiated the Nelson Mandela Lecture Series to recognize and introduce the Penn State community to the scholarship of an African human rights activist and scholar. The lecture is named after Nelson Mandela because he is, by far, the most widely recognized human rights activist; he not only changed the sociopolitical structure of South Africa, but he also challenged the world to have a conscience in addressing human rights.
Adam Habib is an academic, researcher, activist, administrator, and well-known public intellectual. A Professor of Political Science, Habib has over 30 years of academic, research and administration expertise, spanning five universities and multiple local and international institutions.
Prior to his appointment as Director of SOAS, he was Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) in Johannesburg, South Africa between 2013 and 2020. He has also served as Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Research at the University of Johannesburg, Executive Director of Democracy & Governance at the Human Science Research Council and director of the Centre for Civil Society and Professor of Development at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. He is widely published, among which are his two well received monographs, South Africa's Suspended Revolution: Hopes and Prospects and Rebel & Rage: Reflecting on #FeesMustFall.
Habib’s academic contributions resulted in his election to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, in addition to serving as a fellow of both the African Academy of Science and the Academy of Science of South Africa. He also serves on the Council of the United Nations University.
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