Honorary doctorates

Stellenbosch University confers honorary doctorates upon extraordinary recipients who have distinguished themselves in their respective fields and made a significant contribution to society.

During the March 2024 graduation, the University will confer honorary doctorates on the following recipients:

Prof Leonard Wantchekon

A professor of Politics and International Affairs at Princeton University, Leonard Wantchekon has made substantive contributions to the fields of political economy, development economics and economic history. His research centres on Africa, with a focus on democratisation, clientelism and redistributive politics, the resource curse, and the long-term social impact of historical events.

His innovative work includes research on political institutions and governance, for which he did field experiments with politicians competing in real-time elections to investigate the effects of policy and campaign messaging on voters’ behaviour. Other ground-breaking studies related to the long-term economic effects of historical events, such as the Atlantic slave trade, on Africa.

In 2014, Wantchekon established the African School of Economics (ASE) in Benin, his native country. The school identifies prospective African economists and policymakers and prepares them for industry or for doctoral studies. Several ASE students have since enrolled in PhD programmes in the United States and elsewhere.

Having previously held positions at Yale and New York universities, Wantchekon is a fellow of both the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Econometric Society, as well as an executive committee member of the International Economic Association.

Wantchekon will be awarded the degree Doctor of Commerce (DCom), honoris causa.

Prof James Robinson

Prof James Robinson is a thought leader on economic development and political institutions. He has played a key part in establishing and advancing the field of quantitative economic history in South Africa and is recognised for his commitment to working in the global south and actively collaborating with emerging scholars in Latin America and sub-Saharan Africa.

Robinson’s affiliation with Stellenbosch University (SU) dates back several years. He supported the University as it prepared to host the first-ever World Economic History Congress in Africa in 2012. Engagements following this event precipitated the establishment of the Laboratory for the Economics of Africa’s Past (LEAP) to elevate African voices in the disciplines of Economic History and Economic Development.

With collaborators from SU, the University of Chicago and Harvard, he also embarked on a project focusing on women’s political participation in sub-Saharan Africa in historical and contemporary contexts. The exchange between SU and Chicago remains active.

Robinson currently serves as Reverend Dr Richard L Pearson Professor of Global Conflict Studies, university professor as well as director of The Pearson Institute for the Study and Resolution of Global Conflicts – all at the University of Chicago.

Robinson will be awarded the degree Doctor of Commerce (DCom), honoris causa.