The George Washington University Elliott School of International Affairs announced the selection of Jennifer Cooke as the new director to lead the Elliott School’s Institute for African Studies. Cooke is formerly director of the Africa Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), where she led research and analysis on political, economic, and security dynamics in Africa. She is a frequent writer and lecturer on U.S.-Africa policy and provides briefings, testimony, and policy recommendations to U.S. policymakers, the U.S. Congress, and the U.S. military.
“Jennifer Cooke’s experience in government, her focus on human rights issues, and her policy expertise in the political and economic developments in Africa make her the ideal person to lead the Institute for African Studies,” said Reuben Brigety, dean of the Elliott School of International Affairs. “I am confident that she will build the institute into a top-tier resource for academic research and public policy discourse on Africa.”
Cooke is a frequent commentator in print, on radio, and on television, and she has testified before Congress on Boko Haram in Nigeria, the political crisis in Côte d’Ivoire, and the African Union. She travels widely in Africa and has been an election observer in Sierra Leone, Mali, Nigeria, and Ghana. Growing up, she lived in Côte d’Ivoire and the Central African Republic, as well as Belgium, Italy, and Canada. She holds an M.A. in African studies and international economics from the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) and a B.A. in government, magna cum laude, from Harvard University.
Acting interim director, Ambassador Liberata Mulamula, will remain on with the institute as its Associate Director and continue work on her research on political transitions and women’s’ leadership in Africa, especially in post-conflict countries.
The Institute for African Studies is also pleased to announce the appointment of Professor Yolande Bouka as the new Visiting Assistant Professor of African Studies for the upcoming 2018 – 2019 academic year.
Launched in 2016, the Institute for African Studies has rapidly become a university-wide hub for GW students and faculty with shared interests in the world’s second largest continent. Because of Africa’s diverse geo-political landscape – which spans nearly every major global issue, writ large – the institute also attracts faculty and students focused on particular global themes, such as sustainable development, conflict and security, and governance. Even more broadly, the institute draws high-level diplomats and policymakers from around the world, who gather at the Elliott School to share perspectives. Host to some 50 events in the past year alone, the institute fills a longtime gap in the Washington, D.C., area.