After five years of rapid growth and ever-expanding programmes, the Firoz Lalji Centre is pleased to announce it has become the Firoz Lalji Institute for Africa (FLIA) – an exciting new phase which will strengthen LSE’s long-term commitment to placing Africa at the heart of understandings and debates on global issues.
As an Institute, our research, teaching, evidence-based policymaking and engagement internationally with continue and widen across LSE, while new projects will create more ways for people to collaborate and become involved with our work. In particular, our connections with African students, scholars and organisations will provide a bigger platform for the African perspective at the School.
Read a summary below of our tremendous programmes, activities and achievements in recent years, which the new Firoz Lalji Institute will take even further. And stay tuned – more announcements from the Institute will shortly follow.
Research with impact
The Firoz Lalji Institute for Africa has an expansive research programme that generates novel insights into governance, humanitarian action, health-seeking strategies, implications from COVID-19, community resilience, dynamics within the NGO sector, digital innovation and the dynamics of the return of refugees across the continent. Our programme is expanding every year and new research projects are always underway.
Our dedicated research centre, the Centre for Public Authority and International Development, produces focussed research in partnership with over 30 researchers in Uganda, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Ethiopia, Somalia and Sierra Leone, generating numerous publications and collaborative policy discussions with local actors.
As an Institute, we expect to continue broadening the focus and the scope of our research initiatives beyond East and Central Africa to cover a variety of issues, including the study of COVID-19, children, women, youth politics, the environment and social movements.
Africa Engagement Programme
Launched in January 2020, the Africa Engagement Programme (AEP) was established to build strong relationships with the African continent while supporting LSE’s African alumni networks. Focused on promoting African scholarship and career opportunities, the programme cultivates partnerships with African institutions, researchers and employers to build an ecosystem that positively contributes to LSE’s longstanding engagement with Africa.
A range of virtual events, addressing issues including post-COVID-19 trade investments and the future of work in Africa, have brought African voices to LSE and connected leaders within the LSE community, and a blog series ‘Pathways to Success for Africans in Higher Education’ has proved a valuable resource for African graduates and prospective students. Moving forward, AEP is launching the Career Transitions Lab and the LSE Africa Internship to support further LSE’s African students on graduation.
Programme for African Leadership
In its ninth year, the LSE Programme for African Leadership (PfAL) continues to develop African leadership and create a space for current and future African leaders to meet, network and engage with each other. While at LSE, PfAL students take part in a variety of workshops and events focused on developing leadership capacity and networks, guided by the Leadership Code created by the students, which enshrines the programme’s key value: ‘I am because we are’.
As part of the PfAL Network on graduation, alumni support each other’s careers and take an active role in developing the leadership capacity of current students through the PfAL Mentorship Initiative. Every two years the entire network meets for the PfAL Forum, which was held virtually in 2020 and in Mombssa in 2018.
PfAL now stands at 500+ students and alumni from 41 African countries. As the Network grows and matures, so does its capacity to support its younger members and guide them through their leadership journeys.
The Firoz Lalji Institute for Africa hosts a wide and varied range of events, such as public lectures, seminars, workshops, book launches, and conferences, which draw upon the outstanding expertise of LSE’s diverse knowledge community. In collaboration with the Institute’s African partner institutions, its events engage thousands of scholars, students, policymakers, aid experts, development professionals and business representatives every year.
The Institute’s flagship Africa Talks series continues to host prestigious speakers from the African continent, which has recently included Professor Amina Mama, Professor Akosua Adomako and African Development Bank Co-Director Vanessa Moungar.
The annual student-led Africa Summit is also a space for debate and artistic collaboration, which each year includes an extensive line-up ranging from former presidents, such as Nana Addo Akufo-Addo, to leading policymakers, which in 2021 included UN Secretary General Adviser Cristina Duarte. By bringing these African voices to LSE, the Institute informs contemporary debates on major global challenges.
Africa at LSE blog
In its tenth year, and reaching over 1 million visitors, the Africa at LSE blog continues to grow as a world-leading platform for critical analysis on issues affecting the continent. Publishing throughout the week, every week, its international and LSE contributors bring peer-reviewed social, political and economic research to a wide, global readership, and apply findings to current events.
In the last year, the blog has run seven tailored series in collaboration with researchers across the continent to bring local perspectives to emerging debates. These series include coverage of the wide-ranging impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, deepening economic interconnectedness between China and Africa, findings from Institute research into the increasing digitisation of Kenyan agriculture, barriers and opportunities for African nationals entering higher education, and an exploration of contemporary political and social challenges in the DRC and Burundi.
To share our research and stimulate public debate, the Firoz Lalji Institute for Africa hosts two podcasts: Citing Africa and the Public Authority Podcast.
In its second season, the Citing Africa podcast investigates knowledge production about and from the African continent. It explores the structural factors shaping the type of information we value, how these inform ideas within universities and international organisations, and what this means for debates on decolonisation.
In 2021 the Institute launched the Public Authority Podcast, which asks how governance and humanitarianism in conflict-affected areas actually functions. Inviting experts to discuss the ways public authorities beyond state actors shape daily lives, political control and economic activity across Africa, the podcast in 2021 will examine aid delivery, development initiatives, localisation, access to justice and service provision.
The Decolonisation Hub is a resource from the Firoz Lalji Institute for Africa to support anti-racism and decolonisation at LSE and beyond. More than a space for demonstrating and recording the Institute’s commitments to addressing systemic racism, the Hub is a focal point around LSE for initiatives aimed at students, staff and the public interested in decolonial debates and steps towards concrete action.
Hosting a range of resources including podcasts, LSE event videos, practical toolkits and recommended reading, the Hub also presents information on the university’s plans to further embed anti-racism and inclusive education into its long-term strategies.
CPAID Comics: using cartoons to present research
As part of a series of six comics on public authority in different countries across Africa, comic artists from Uganda, South Sudan and the DRC have illustrated cutting-edge research from the Centre for Public Authority and International Development addressing issues of public authority, vigilantism, peacebuilding, policing and public justice.
The first CPAID Comics present ground-breaking research into what different forms of public authority mean for people’s every lives: the effects of using vigilantes to fight crime in rural Uganda, and how conservation in eastern DRC impacts local livelihoods. View the comics and learn about the background ethnographic research in partnership with local actors.
More information about FLIA
To learn more about our activities, please read our 2019-20 annual report.