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Léonard Wantchékon on Combining Activism and Academia

Professor Wantchékon discussed how researchers can engage in social entrepreneurship and activism.

Event Details:

Wednesday, May 24, 2023
5:30pm - 6:30pm PDT


Gunn SIEPR Building


This event is open to:

General Public
Government and Institutions
Gender and Equity

On Wednesday, May 24, 2023, the King Center on Global Development invited the Stanford community to hear from Léonard Wantchékon, Professor of Politics and International Affairs at Princeton University and the Noosheen Hashemi Visiting Professor at the King Center. From being a pro-democracy activist under military rule in Benin to founding the African School of Economics, Professor Wantchékon discussed his experience on bridging the gap between research and activism.

In his autobiography Dreaming Against the Current, Professor Wantchékon writes “During my high school and college years, I tried to be two different persons in one. On the one hand, I wanted to be a top mathematician and was very ambitious, driven and enthusiastic. […] At the same time, I was an equally ambitious pro-democracy activist. I was at the center of a social movement that was pushing for major political reforms in Benin. These twin paths of academic study and political activism sometimes diverged, often intersected."


About the Speaker:

Léonard Wantchékon, James Madison Professor of Political Economy at Princeton University

leonard wantchekon

Léonard Wantchékon is the James Madison Professor of Political Economy at Princeton University. He is the Founder and President of the African School of Economics and the Pan African Scientific Research Council. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and of the Econometric Society.

His research centers on political economy, development economics and economic history with regional focus on Africa and on substantive topics such as democracy and development, education and social mobility, and the long-term social impact of slavery and colonial rule.

His scholarship is shaped by his experiences as a left-wing, pro-democracy student activist under a repressive military regime in his native Benin. For more details about his work and research, you can read his profile in IMF Magazine  or his interview in The New Bazaar podcast.

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