Economic and development expert joins SIA as visiting assistant professor

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – The Penn State School of International Affairs (SIA) is welcoming Dr. Mumbi Kimani as a visiting assistant professor for the 2021-22 academic year. Dr. Kimani is an applied economist focused on development policy whose work concentrates on South Africa and sub-Saharan Africa in the areas of education, labor, agriculture, environment, and health.

“I am excited to be joining SIA because its focus on Africa and its commitment to interdisciplinary education truly prepares students for the global challenges of today and tomorrow,” Kimani said. “I very much look forward to engaging with students on issues of globalization and global health policy challenges, and to be part of the team empowering students with analytical skills grounded in applied economics, which I believe will contribute greatly to their success in the program and beyond.”

Kimani holds a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Cape Town, South Africa, and a master’s in economics from the University of Nairobi, Kenya. She is a Research Fellow with the School of Economics and Finance at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, and a Research Fellow at the University of Johannesburg’s Public and Environmental Economics Research Centre.

Previously, she held the position of senior researcher at the Development Policy Research Unit, located within the School of Economics at the University of Cape Town. There, she worked on various projects focusing on socio-economic aspects of education policy in South Africa, as well as on youth (un)employment in sub-Saharan Africa.

Her work has appeared in World Development, and the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Network Open, among other peer-reviewed outlets.

“Dr. Kimani is an accomplished researcher who is dedicated to engaging students in the classroom,” said James Houck, interim dean of the School of International Affairs and Penn State Law in University Park. “With her expertise in Africa, Dr. Kimani will complement SIA’s already significant academic strength in that region and we are thrilled to have her join our faculty.”

SIA faculty members whose work focuses on Africa include:

  • Dr. Johannes Fedderke, professor of international affairs and African studies, a native South African and a leading economist who works actively with the World Bank;
  • Ambassador Dennis Jett, professor of international affairs, a former U.S. ambassador to Mozambique and former senior director for African Affairs at the National Security Council;
  • Dr. Tiyanjana Maluwa, professor of law and international affairs, a native of Malawi who previously served as legal counsel to the Organisation of African Unity—the predecessor to the African Union; and
  • Dr. Elizabeth Ransom, interim director of SIA and associate professor of international affairs and senior research associate with the Rock Ethics Institute whose research interests are in the areas of international development and globalization, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa, and the political economy of agriculture and food systems;
  • Dr. Mare Sarr, associate professor of international affairs and African studies, a dual Senegalese and French citizen who has conducted research on environmental economics and the political economy in Ethiopia, Somalia, and Tunisia, among other projects.

“We are excited to welcome Dr. Kimani to the SIA community,” said SIA Interim Director Elizabeth Ransom. “In her work, Dr. Kimani highlights how data can inform policies and practices, and her expertise and experience as an applied economist will be of great benefit to our students and our program.”

As part of her role as visiting assistant professor, Kimani will be teaching one of SIA’s core courses, Global Cultures and Leadership (INTAF 804), in the fall.

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