UC Davis to Host First Energy Institute for Obama's Young African Leaders Program

Apartments buildings at West Village
West Village at UC Davis is the largest planned zero-net energy project in the United States.

Quick Summary

  • Campus pioneers energy institute for Obama program
  • Young African leaders to experience living lab
  • Institute to include field trips, community service

Twenty-five young African leaders will leverage the world leadership of the University of California, Davis, in zero-net energy and its global experience to tackle energy challenges in their countries.

They will come to UC Davis for the first and only energy-themed institute offered through the Mandela Washington Fellowship, the flagship of President Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative.

The State Department and IREX, the international nonprofit that administers the fellowship program, today (Feb. 9) announced the 36 universities that will host six-week summer programs — also in business and entrepreneurship, civic leadership and public management — for about 1,000 fellows.

UC Davis Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi said one of the 21st century’s biggest challenges is transitioning to a sustainable energy future, and UC Davis is leading with research, education and outreach in energy sciences, technology, management and policy to develop solutions.

“The fellows are future leaders in Africa,” she added, “and UC Davis is partnering with them to make a difference in our communities, our countries and our world.”

Selected from countries in sub-Saharan Africa through a competition, the fellows are 25- to 35-year-olds who already have a record of leadership and accomplishments.

“I am also very proud of the University of California, Davis, for the global leadership it is showing by hosting this unique and important institute for the Mandela program.” — Congressman John Garamendi

U.S. Rep. John Garamendi was a Peace Corps volunteer in Ethiopia and has led two peace mission teams to Africa. “I congratulate these young leaders from Africa for their participation in the Mandela Washington Fellowship Program, as well as their dedication to improving the energy future of their countries and the world,” he said. “I am also very proud of the University of California, Davis, for the global leadership it is showing by hosting this unique and important institute for the Mandela program.”

A living lab for energy efficiency

At the Specialized Institute on Energy: Pathways to Zero-Net Energy, fellows will experience a living lab for energy efficiency. Ranked third in the world for sustainability by the GreenMetric World University Ranking, the campus is home to West Village, the nation’s largest planned zero-net energy community; the Honda Smart Home, showcasing technologies that enable zero-net energy living; and the largest solar power plant at an American university.

UC Davis also features an acclaimed bicycling infrastructure, one of the world’s most sustainable facilities for making wine, and an anaerobic digester that converts campus and community food and yard waste into clean energy.

Expertise from campus and beyond

Serving as academic director of the UC Davis institute will be Professor Kate Scow of the Department of Land Air and Water Resources at UC Davis. She has worked for a number of years on projects in sub-Saharan Africa. She is director of Russell Ranch of the Agriculture Sustainability Institute at UC Davis and chairs the campus’s graduate group in international agricultural development. Jennie Konsella-Norene, international funding analyst in Global Affairs at UC Davis, is the institute’s administrative director.

Institute seminars and lectures will draw on the expertise of faculty from a broad range of disciplines and some dozen UC Davis institutes and research centers — including the Energy Efficiency Center, which accelerates the development and commercialization of energy efficiency technologies, and the Institute of Transportation Studies, the world’s leading university center on sustainable transportation.

Field trips and guest lectures will expose the fellows to key energy organizations and leaders in the generation and use of renewable energy.

In hands-on service and learning, the fellows will help install solar energy systems for lower-income families, clean up a local watershed, perform campus energy audits, and work on a community garden.

Making a difference around the world

UC Davis has a proud history of advancing the knowledge, skills and connections of people to make a difference around the world. Since 1986, UC Davis has hosted more than 200 Hubert H. Humphrey Fellows in agriculture, rural community development, environmental sciences and climate change.

Among many other international programs, it has also hosted the International Seminar on Climate Change and Natural Resource Management; and the U.S.-Denmark Summer Workshop on Renewable Energy.

UC Davis is already active in Africa through study abroad, research and other programs, including the African Plant Breeding Academy and other projects funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Horticulture Innovation Lab at UC Davis.

‘Brilliant, energetic and fearless’

The fellows are 25- to 35-year-olds who have promoted innovation and accomplished positive change in their organizations, institutions, communities and countries. They have made a commitment to return to Africa and apply their leadership skills and training to benefit their community or country.

Joanna Regulska, vice provost and associate chancellor for Global Affairs at UC Davis, oversaw 2013 and 2014 Mandela fellowship programs as vice president of international and global affairs at Rutgers University

“Fellows are brilliant, energetic and fearless,” Regulska said. “We are privileged to be able to share our learning and discovery and forge relationships with them now that will benefit our campus, the state and our world.”

The fellows will be selected this spring, and the institute will be held in June and July.

Media Resources

Joanna Regulska, UC Davis Global Affairs, 530-752-6376, jregulska@ucdavis.edu

Kate Scow, Land, Air and Water Resources, 530-752-4632, kmscow@ucdavis.edu

Jennie Konsella-Norene, UC Davis Global Affairs, 530-754-9403, jknorene@ucdavis.edu

Julia Ann Easley, News and Media Relations, 530-752-8248, jaeasley@ucdavis.edu

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