Duke Professor Spearheads Partnership
With South African School
A Duke University professor and former U.S. ambassador to South Africa says a leadership program he spearheaded attempts to advance racial and economic equality in that country.
Duke and the University of Cape Town this fall launched the United States-Southern Africa Center for Leadership and Public Values.
James Joseph, who left his ambassadorship in 1999 and has split time between jobs at Duke and Cape Town, says South Africa has made great strides toward becoming a democracy since the end of apartheid.
South Africa “has had seven years of democracy after 300 years of social engineering,” says Joseph, a public policy professor at Duke. “When one keeps that in mind, it’s made remarkable progress.”
The program will focus on improving both government and private initiatives between the two countries in South Africa as well as efforts to nurture leaders.
Joseph hopes to bring together leaders from the United States and South Africa in a forum to develop ways to increase philanthropy and volunteerism there as well as reconstruction and development. The forum is patterned after a binational commission led by former vice president Al Gore and South African president Thabo Mbeki.
The program also will bring scholars from Duke’s Terry Sanford Institute of Public Policy and the University of Cape Town’s graduate business school together to discuss ethics in public life.
Emerging leaders for that nation also will be connected with mentors in South Africa. The first person nominated for the leadership prong of the program is a 30-year-old South African mayor.
“I hope by the time he’s 35, he’ll be the premier of a province or a Cabinet member,” Joseph says. “Or, to be in the same position but much more effective.”
Joseph says the program will attempt to mold innovative leaders ready to solve the problems the country faces, notably economic disparity between races.
“The problem ahead … is economic development of the majority,” says Joseph, who has been traveling to South Africa since 1973 in the roles of an activist, diplomat and now an academic.
With the center now formally launched in the United States, Joseph is anticipating the meeting of the first group of emerging leaders this spring at Robben Island — where former South African president Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 17 years.
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