Could These MBA Scholarships Help To Fund Your Business School Dreams?

An MBA is an investment in both your time and money. Data from the Education Data Initiative reports that the average cost of an MBA in the United States is $61,800 – certainly not small change for anyone.

And if you want to study at the top business schools in the country, you’re looking at more than double for the privilege. Harvard Business School estimates a budget of around $225,000 for two years of tuition, health insurance, rent and living expenses.

The typically shorter programs of Europe and Asia Pacific may not be as expensive, however top business schools in these regions still charge at the higher end of the spectrum, with schools like IMD’s MBA priced at CHF 97,500 (US$111.4K), INSEAD’s MBA at just over €90,000 (US$98.2K) and London Business School priced at £115,000 (US$145.5K).

It’s no wonder the decision to pursue an MBA is one that is thought about for years, not months. It’s a major investment in your future, and the return on investment both personally and professionally is compelling as the Forbes MBA ranking confirms. So taking the time for financial planning is essential.

However, for many the cost is prohibitive. Talented professionals with huge potential may hesitate, and many of these often fall disproportionately into underrepresented groups.

To tackle this and ensure that gifted professionals from all walks of life are able to apply and secure a spot on MBA programs, business schools are increasingly launching tailored scholarships to reduce the financial burden.


Data from the business school accreditation body, AACSB, shows that the total dollar amount of scholarships offered by AACSB member schools globally has increased nearly 16% over the last five years, from US$416,341,425 in 2018-19, to US$482,708,467 in 2022-23. And with business schools increasingly valuing diversity in the MBA classroom, the number of available scholarships is likely to continue to grow.

November is National Scholarships Month, so here are some of the scholarships launched by business schools, and how they are helping an ever widening group of individuals to gain an MBA.

Scholarships for women

According to the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) 2023 Application Trends report, women accounted for 40 percent of applications to business schools worldwide, and there has not been much movement since 2014. However, among the top U.S. and European schools there gender gap is closing.

Wharton was the first among the M7 schools – that also include HBS, Stanford GSB, Chicago Booth, Columbia, MIT Sloan and Northwestern Kellogg – to achieve gender balance, with the incoming MBA class in 2021 including 51.6% women. The school has maintained at least 50% women in the two subsequent years.

Saïd Business School at the University of Oxford has also announced that this year’s MBA intake is 51% female, the first time one of Europe’s top 10 MBA programs has welcomed more women than men.

“We can create a truly diverse community with a multitude of backgrounds,” says Kathy Harvey, Associate Dean, MBA and Executive Degrees at Oxford Saïd. “We hope that by striving for equality in our community, our graduates will go on to champion this throughout their careers.”

The Saïd Business School is among many business schools that partner with the Forte Foundation, a non-profit organization that offers female applicants a scholarship to study at some of the best MBA programs around the world.

Applicants can be from anywhere globally, applying to any MBA program that offers the Forte Fellowships for women – of which more than 55 of the world’s leading MBA programs do, including the likes of Harvard, NYU Stern, Berkeley Haas, Yale SOM and Toronto Rotman in North America, and Cambridge Judge Business School, IE Business School and Alliance Manchester Business School in Europe.

The Forte scholarships give the opportunity for more women to secure an MBA – a stepping stone for future business leadership. Ellis Sangster, CEO of the Forte Foundation, believes that the flexibility of programs has helped boost female numbers. “Changes in curriculum, teaching methods, and technologies have influenced women’s participation and success in business education. Technological advancements have likely facilitated remote and hybrid learning, providing more flexibility and accessibility for women pursuing business education,” says Sangster.

But it is not only third-party organizations that offer female-focused scholarships. Business schools such as Emory’s Goizueta Business School in Atlanta launched a $5million endowment for women to increase female leadership representation, Chicago Booth School of Business launched the Wallman Fellowship, providing full tuition to outstanding female applicants, and Vlerick Business School, in Belgium recently launched their female empowerment scholarship for MBA programs.

Scholarships for minorities

In 2022, 20 of the top 30 US business schools saw a decline in the number of minority participants on their programs. The schools agree that for participants to get the most out of the time on an MBA, a diverse class is essential to ensure that participants face a challenge to their own worldviews, perspectives and ideas.

As Curtis Johnson, a Wharton MBA who is now a Brand Strategy Executive at the Walt Disney Company explains in an interview with BlueSky Thinking, “I struggled with feeling a sense of belonging and the notion that I had something to prove. MBA programs aspire to a culture where students easefully explore each others’ experiences and worldviews. It’s beautiful conceptually – in practice, I was expected to enter into the world of my classmates much more than they would traverse into mine.”

African-American students in the US made up just 8% of MBA seats in 2021, and the picture isn’t much better in Europe. One business school offering scholarships specifically to young, black talented professionals is Imperial College Business School, in London. In 2021, the business school launched its Black Future Leaders scholarship – offering 50% tuition fee to black applicants demonstrating an outstanding track record of leadership or leadership potential.

Alexandra Whitford, a current Masters in Management student at Imperial College Business School and Black Future Leaders scholar, says that the scholarship has been incredibly impactful. “It has provided direct exposure to business networks that would otherwise be daunting to approach as an outsider or difficult to access due to a lack of network,” Whitford says.

Whitford, who is of both British and Malawian heritage, believes that scholarships can be drivers of progress. However, “this interpretation may naively overlook multiple forms of disadvantage or prevailing attitudes that scholarships cannot address in the long term, and there may be bigger policy initiatives needed to get to the root of this social issue,” she says.

Other scholarships focused on ethnicity include those of the National Black MBA Association, a collegiate partnership program offering scholarships to study at some of the most prestigious business schools in the US; Prospanica’s University Partnership Program, a non-profit dedicated to developing Hispanic talent; United Nations Development Program (UNDP) – Africa Program, with which Bradford School of Management recently announced eight fully funded postgraduate scholarships.

Scholarships for LGBTQ+ communities

According to data from Reaching Out MBA (ROMBA) – a non-profit organization offering scholarships to top business schools for LGBTQ+ applicants – only 2.94% of MBA students self-identify as LGBTQ. The ROMBA scholarship educates, inspires, and connects an increasingly diverse LGBTQ+ MBA community, and offers students discount to many top business schools, including Tepper School of Business, MIT Sloan and Duke Fuqua.

The success of this LGBTQ+ scholarship has acted as inspiration for other business schools launching similar initiatives. For instance, ESMT Berlin, in Germany, recently launched its Rainbow Scholarship – offering an MBA discount to LGBTQ+ students who’ve contributed to LGBTQ+ causes and impacted the community. Alan Wang, Full-Time MBA participant at ESMT Berlin and Rainbow scholar says that the scholarship is “more than just a form of financial assistance. It is a badge that serves as a constant reminder of the value and strength found in authenticity and diversity.”

Wang believes “it’s crucial for other schools to launch scholarships like these, particularly if they are committed to fostering diversity and inclusivity. By creating specific scholarships for the LGBT+ community, schools not only attract a diverse pool of talented individuals but also reinforce their commitment to social justice and equality.”

Other initiatives focused on LGBTQ+ participants include the IMPM – an Executive Diploma in Global Management from five top international universities, including Canada’s McGill University’s Desautels Faculty of Management – LGBTQIA+ scholarship, as well as the Point Foundation scholarship, a non-profit organisation who offer LGBTQ+ individual’s scholarships to study at top US business schools, and the University of Edinburgh Business School’s Somewhere MBA LGBTQ+ scholarship.

Socio-economic scholarships

It’s not just ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation that warrants a scholarship to an MBA program. Many business schools understand that those who face the biggest challenge financially in applying to an MBA are those from lower socio-economic backgrounds, who are just as talented as other professionals, but are much more likely to face financial burden from applying to business school. France’s emlyon business school recently launched a new scholarship based on social criteria, which is open to all Masters in Management (MiM) students. The scholarship offers up to 100% of tuition fees for students with financial difficulties, with the mission to support young people who are most in need.

Bénédicte Bost, Director of Sustainability and Social Responsibility at emlyon business school, believes that it is the business schools’ duty to focus on social inclusion, “so that talented students are not prevented from accessing higher education because of their social or geographical origins,” she explains, “The initiative allows students to grasp the full range of possibilities when building their career paths.”

Another scholarship focusing on improving opportunities for those from diverse backgrounds at business school is the recently launched GMAT Talent and Opportunity Scholarship, by the Graduate Management Admissions Council (GMAC). The scholarship is targeted at anyone from an underrepresented group, including women, people with disabilities, ethnic minorities, those who are socio-economically diverse, LGBTQ+ and non-binary candidates.

The scholarship funds part of the application process to a business school of the applicants choosing. The 10 scholars for the first cohort benefit from the Fortuna Ignite program, working with former Directors of MBA Admissions from the top US and European business schools. The scholarship aims to bridge the gap from business schools wanting more diverse students, but diverse students often facing a financial barrier to entry.

“We recognised that while that many business schools and companies are seeking diverse talent – the journey to some of those opportunities can also be fraught with challenges, so our aim was to help alleviate some of those financial and advisory challenges, by supporting the candidates on that pathway, giving them more of equal footing,” says Nalisha Patel, Regional Director for Europe at GMAC. With these students already applying for business schools, Patel believes that “this signals that the scholarship will have a real long-term impact on these students and their personal fulfilment, the learning of their peers, the ecosystem of their business schools, the companies they work for and hopefully therefore society as a whole.”

Other business school initiatives focused on socio-economic backgrounds include the Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans, which supports immigrants and their children as they pursue graduate education; the Flywire Charitable Foundation scholarship, which aims to improve equality, access and affordability for underrepresented individuals and communities working with schools like NEOMA Business School, in France; as well as London Business School’s Sloan Advancing Social Mobility Scholarship, aimed at candidates from diverse socio-economic backgrounds, who face financial hardship.

Industry-focused scholarships

Traditionally, business schools often see the majority of their MBA alumni transition into the similar industries, such as finance and banking, accounting and consulting. However, that is increasingly changing, and more and more participants are using their MBAs to launch their own ventures post-studying. In fact, research by Vlerick Business School found that around half of all business school students wanted to launch their own business one day.

In order to attract would-be entrepreneurs to MBA programs, schools like Porto Business School, in Portugal, are launching scholarships aimed at individuals who want to pursue an MBA degree and have a strong motivation to start or develop their own business ventures. The Entrepreneurship Scholarship empowers aspiring entrepreneurs, “with the goal of individuals not only launching successful ventures, but also bringing fresh ideas and competitive dynamics to the marketplace, stimulating economic growth and fostering a culture of continuous learning and adaptation in business practices,” says Jose Esteves, Dean of Porto Business School.

Luís Fernandes, a Digital MBA student at Porto Business School and entrepreneurship scholar, believes that scholarships like this help to alleviate the three biggest challenges of MBA; the time it consumes, the challenging nature of the programme and the cost. “These 3 variables could leave most people out, so I think having these scholarships really increases the range of candidates. Therefore, with more candidates, we have different points of view, backgrounds, ideas, and diversity. And together we can create better entrepreneurial ventures and business leaders to build a better world,” says Fernandes.

Other scholarships focused on encouraging more graduates to go into diverse and less traditional career paths include the Non-profit Management Scholarship at Vanderbilt University’s Owen Graduate School of Management, the Healthcare Scholarship at Kellogg School of Management, and the Climate Leaders Scholarship at the University of Sussex Business School, in the UK.

With tough economic conditions, finding a scholarship to help alleviate some of the cost of business school could be the deciding factor to applying for business school – it’s certainly worth exploring all options out there.


Right Here, Right Now: ECW’s USD 150 Million Climate Appeal to Save Children at Risk

Civil Society, Climate Change, Climate Change Justice, COP28, Development & Aid, Editors’ Choice, Education, Environment, Featured, Humanitarian Emergencies, Poverty & SDGs, Sustainable Development Goals

Education Cannot Wait. Future of Education is here

Teacher Maria Alberto in her classroom, 3500 classrooms were destroyed by Cyclone Idai in Mozambique. Credit: Manan Kotak/ECW

Teacher Maria Alberto in her classroom, 3500 classrooms were destroyed by Cyclone Idai in Mozambique. Credit: Manan Kotak/ECW

NAIROBI, Nov 28 2023 (IPS) – A catastrophic surge in the frequency, intensity, and severity of extreme weather events has placed children on the frontlines of climate emergencies. Nearly half of the world’s children, or one billion, live in countries at extremely high risk from the effects of the climate crisis. Most of these children face multiple vulnerabilities.

An estimated 80 percent of countries categorized as extremely high-risk are also categorized as Least Developed Countries (LDCs). More than 62 million children—nearly one-third of the 224 million crisis-affected children worldwide in need of educational support—face the repercussions of climate-related events like floods, storms, droughts, and cyclones, which are further intensified by climate change. 

Against this backdrop and in advance of the Conference of the Parties (COP28) in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, the United Nations global fund for education in emergencies and protracted crises, Education Cannot Wait (ECW), issued today an urgent appeal for USD 150 million in new funding to respond to the climate crisis.

“The very future of humanity is at stake. Rising seas, spiking temperatures, and ever-more-severe droughts, floods, and natural hazards are derailing development gains and ripping our world apart. As we’ve seen with the floods in Pakistan and the drought in the Horn of Africa and the Sahel, climate change is triggering concerning jumps in forced displacement, violence, food insecurity, and economic uncertainty the world over,” said Yasmine Sherif, Executive Director of Education Cannot Wait.

The new appeal underscores the urgent need to connect education action with climate action. New ECW data indicates that 62 million children and adolescents affected by climate shocks have been in desperate need of education support since 2020. This appeal was prepared in November 2023 by the ECW Secretariat based on estimates provided in the organization’s background study, “Futures at Risk: Climate-Induced Shocks and Their Toll on Education for Crisis-Affected Children.

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The study draws on the latest ECW global update’s findings and methodology, as well as the latest research, and endeavors to bridge critical knowledge gaps with regard to the extent to which climate change, environmental degradation, and biodiversity loss impact and displace school-aged children globally and influence access to education.

Study findings show that over the last five years, more than 91 million school-aged children impacted by crises have faced climate shocks amplified by climate change. The effects have been particularly pronounced in Sub-Saharan Africa, affecting 42 million children, and in South Asia, impacting 31 million children. Among the various climate hazards assessed, droughts emerge as the most severe and persistent, disproportionately affecting children in Sub-Saharan Africa.

“The climate crisis is robbing millions of vulnerable girls and boys of their right to learn, their right to play, and their right to feel safe and secure. In the eye of the storm, we urge new and existing public and private sector donors to stand with them. We appeal to you to act right here, right now, to address the climate and education crisis,” said Gordon Brown, UN Special Envoy for Global Education and Chair of the ECW High-Level Steering Group.

Additionally, the Futures at Risk study stresses that children affected by climate hazards are at risk of educational disruptions due to forced displacement. In the 27 crisis-affected countries where 62 million children have been exposed to climate shocks since 2020, there were 13 million forced movements of school-aged children due to floods, droughts, and storms.

Young girls and boys after receiving UNICEF bags, books, and copies attending their first-class in a UNICEF-supported temporary learning centre next to the flood water in village Allah Dina Channa, district Lasbela, Baluchistan province, Pakistan. The primary school was badly damaged during a heavy monsoon rain in 2022. Credit: UNICEF

Young girls and boys, after receiving UNICEF bags and books, attended their first class in a UNICEF-supported temporary learning centre in Allah Dina Channa village, district Lasbela, Baluchistan province, Pakistan. The primary school was badly damaged during a heavy monsoon rain in 2022. Credit: UNICEF

The 224 million school-aged children globally effected by crises need diverse forms of educational support. Of these, 31 million children are in countries ill-prepared to handle the impacts of severe climate-related crises. Droughts, closely followed by floods, are the most frequently encountered climate-related shocks, which often intertwine and exacerbate one another.

“Education is an essential component in delivering on the promises and commitments outlined in the Paris Agreement, the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, and the Sustainable Development Goals. As all eyes turn toward this year’s Climate Talks (COP28) and the Global Refugee Forum, world leaders must connect climate action with education action,” Sherif emphasizes.

The number of disasters driven, in part, by climate change has increased fivefold in the past 50 years. By 2050, climate impacts could cost the world economy USD 7.9 trillion and could force up to 216 million people to move within their own countries, according to the World Bank. This poses a real and present threat to global security, economic prosperity, and efforts to address the life-threatening impacts of the climate crisis.

Unmitigated, the study shows that the future of millions of children is at risk. Children who are already at risk of dropping out face an even higher risk when exposed to crises worsened by climate change and environmental degradation. In Sub-Saharan Africa, where climate-related crises are prevalent, internally displaced children are 1.7 times more likely to be out of primary school compared to their non-displaced peers.

The study emphasizes that climate change impacts are not gender-neutral. Women and girls are disproportionally affected due to preexisting gender norms. Climate change exacerbates the risks of gender-based violence, school dropouts, food insecurity, and child marriage.

The new appeal outlines a strategic value proposition that connects donors, the private sector, governments, and other key stakeholders to create a coordinated approach to scaling up education funding in response to the climate crisis. The new funding aims to ensure learning continuity by providing mental health and psychosocial support, school rehabilitation and resilience, child protection, gender-based violence prevention and risk mitigation, water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH), disaster risk reduction, and anticipatory and early action measures.

ECW has championed the right to education for children affected by the global climate crisis. In the aftermath of devasting floods, Libya, Mozambique and Pakistan and spikes in hunger, forced displacement, and violence across the Horn of Africa and the Sahel, the ECW has issued emergency grants to get children and adolescents back to the safety and opportunity that quality education provides.

Within existing programmes in crisis-impacted countries like Bangladesh, Chad, Nigeria, South Sudan and Syria, ECW investments are supporting climate-resilient infrastructure, disaster risk reduction, and school meals, offering hope and opportunity in the most challenging circumstances.

IPS UN Bureau Report


Africa Will Not Cope with Climate Change Without a Just, Inclusive Energy Transition

Africa, Civil Society, Climate Action, Climate Change, Climate Change Finance, COP28, Editors’ Choice, Energy, Environment, Featured, Headlines, Human Rights, Humanitarian Emergencies, Sustainable Development Goals, TerraViva United Nations


Climate change impact on Africa has been devastating as this photo taken in the aftermath of Cyclone Idai in Mozambique shows. A just transition is needed. Credit: Denis Onyodi / IFRC/DRK

Climate change impact on Africa has been devastating as this photo taken in the aftermath of Cyclone Idai in Mozambique shows. Credit: Denis Onyodi / IFRC/DRK

NAIROBI, Nov 24 2023 (IPS) – A just transition should be viewed as an opportunity to rectify some of the wrongs where women are not prioritised in the energy mix, yet their experience of the impact of climate change is massive, says Thandile Chinyavanhu, a young South African-based climate and energy campaigner with Greenpeace Africa.

Recent UN scientific research on the state of the climate change crisis and ongoing climate action reveals that the window to reach climate goals is rapidly closing. The world is not on track to reach the goals set out in the Paris Agreement, which commits all countries to pursue efforts to limit the global temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.

To achieve this goal, emissions must decrease by 45% by 2030 and reach net zero by 2050. Ahead of COP28 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE), expectations are high that a clear roadmap to net zero progress will be reached, bringing issues of energy, a global energy transition, and energy security into sharp focus.

The energy sector has a significant impact on climate as it accounts for an estimated two-thirds of all harmful greenhouse gas emissions. The burning of fossil fuels is the primary cause of the ongoing global climate change crisis, significantly altering planet Earth. The issue of energy and climate is of particular concern to African countries, especially the Sub-Saharan Africa region, as they also relate to increased vulnerabilities for women, especially rural women. The intersection between energy security and economic growth, poverty reduction, and the empowerment of women and girls is not in doubt.

Still, despite access to reliable, affordable, and sustainable energy for all being articulated under the UN’s SDG 7, one in eight people around the world has no access to electricity. In sub-Saharan Africa alone, nearly 600 million people, or an estimated 53 percent of the region’s population, have no access to electricity. Currently, less than a fifth of African countries have targets to reach universal electricity access by 2030. For some, the silver bullet is to dump fossil fuels and go green; for others, it is an urgent, just, and equitable transition to renewables.

IPS spoke to Chinyavanhu about her role as a social justice and climate activist. She says she wants to contribute to climate change mitigation, ensuring that people and cities are prepared for climate change and can adapt to what is coming.

Thandile Chinyavanhu

Thandile Chinyavanhu

Here are excerpts from the interview.

IPS: Why are current energy systems untenable, considering the ongoing climate change crisis?

Chinyavanhu: On going green and dumping fossil fuels, there are several issues at play, and they vary from country to country. Fossil fuels—coal, oil, and gas—are by far the largest contributors to global climate change, as they account for more than 75 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions and nearly 90 percent of all carbon dioxide emissions. South Africa, for instance, has a big coal mining industry and is one of the top five coal-exporting countries globally. The country relies heavily on coal for about 70 percent of its total electricity production. We need to move away from energy consumption models that are exacerbating the climate crisis, but we must also ensure that we are centred on a just transition.

IPS: What should a ‘just energy transition’ look like for Africa and other developing nations?

Chinyavanhu: Overall, we are looking at issues of socio-economic development models that leave no one behind. To achieve this, renewable energy is the pathway that provides us with energy security and accelerated development. We have serious energy-related challenges due to a lack of preparation and planning around the energy crisis. The challenge is that Africa needs energy and, at the same time, accelerates its development in a manner that leaves no one behind, be it women or any other vulnerable group that is usually left behind in policy responses.

There is a need to address challenges regarding access to energy for all so that, in transitioning to clean energy, we do not have any groups of people being left behind, as has been the case. This is not so much a problem or challenge as an opportunity for countries to address gaps in access to energy and ensure that it is accessible to all, especially women, bearing in mind the many roles they play in society, including nurturing the continent’s future workforce. A just energy transition is people-centred.

We must recognise and take stock of the economic impact that moving from fossil fuels to clean energy could have on people and their livelihoods, such as those in the mining sector. It is crucial that people are brought along in the process of transition, giving them the tools and resources needed for them to be absorbed into new clean energy models. There is a very deep socio-economic aspect to it because people must be given the skills and capacities to engage in emerging green systems and industries.

IPS: As a young woman activist, what do you think the roles of women in an energy transition are?

Chinyavanhu: Women are generally not prioritised, and so they do not have the same opportunities as men, even in matters of climate change adaptation and mitigation, and this is true for sectors such as agriculture and mining. Women have great economic potential and have a very big role to play towards a just energy transition as key drivers of socio-economic progress.

In the green energy space, economic opportunities are opening up. Men are quickly taking over the renewable energy industry, but there are plenty of opportunities for women to succeed if given the right resources. We are at a point in time when we have the opportunity to leave behind polluting technologies and, at the same time, address some of the key socio-economic challenges that have plagued societies for a long time.

This transition should be viewed as an opportunity to rectify some of those wrongs in a way that is people-centred and inclusive. No one should be left behind. It is really about building harmony with nature while also addressing many of the socio-economic issues that plague us today. This is more of an opportunity than a hurdle. It is about understanding and rectifying systems’ thinking that contributes to women being left behind. It is important that we see the bigger picture—identify and acknowledge that different groups—not just women, but any identifier that places people at a point of vulnerability—have been left furthest behind. The energy transition process has presented an opportunity to make it right.
IPS UN Bureau Report


Bunker Hill’s One Book Program celebrates one of its own

The college’s One Book Program began in 2007 and provides a means for students, faculty, and staff to share the experience of reading and discussing a common text. Expanding on the decades-old concept of the national “One City, One Book” movement, in which public libraries choose a work to promote community-wide discussion, Bunker Hill’s program encourages professors to incorporate the book into their curriculum. Programming throughout the school year includes author talks, book signings, and discussion groups.

Past selections have included “White Space: Essays on Culture, Race, and Writing” by Jennifer De Leon; “The Other Wes Moore” by Maryland Governor Wes Moore; and “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” by Rebecca Skloot.


Author Caroline Kautsire signs a book for a student at Bunker Hill Community College. Bunker Hill Community College

“This year marks the 50th anniversary of Bunker Hill Community College,” said English professor Naoko Akai-Dennis, coordinator of the One Book Program. “It was a good year to choose someone local and related to community colleges. Students find Caroline approachable and engaging.”

“What Kind of Girl?” by Caroline Kautsire. Austin Macauley Publishers

Kautsire, who earned her bachelor’s degree at UMass Boston, then completed a master’s degree in English at Brown and a master’s of fine arts in creative writing at Emerson, was 17 when she emigrated from Malawi to Boston. Her first memoir, “What Kind of Girl?,” depicts her childhood in Africa; the second book picks up with her arrival in the United States and explores not only culture shock but issues of gender, race, class, sexuality, and the complications of navigating the immigration system.


The idea that her experiences as an immigrant might be worthy of a memoir began to take shape when Kautsire started teaching at Bunker Hill as an adjunct English instructor more than a decade ago.

“I was teaching contemporary African-American literature, so I found myself talking a lot about race and identity,” she said. “And then I had to ask myself, if I’m teaching students how to understand narratives of Black women in literature, where is my story?”

Bunker Hill student John Massaquoi found numerous commonalities between the feelings Kautsire depicted in her memoir and those he has had since he emigrated from Sierra Leone in early 2022.

“As immigrants, we are out of our comfort zone much of the time,” Massaquoi reflected. “We may be self-conscious or feel insecure.” During a recent class discussion about Kautsire’s memoir, Massaquoi found it comforting to learn that many of his classmates felt the same way.

Author Caroline Kautsire discusses her memoir with a Bunker Hill Community College audience. Bunker Hill Community College

Bunker Hill’s main campus is in Charlestown, with a satellite campus in Chelsea and several learning centers throughout Greater Boston. At Massachusetts’ largest community college, 65 percent of students are people of color and more than half are women, according to statistics provided by the school. There are nearly 600 international students who come from 94 countries and speak more than 75 languages.

“My story is meant to be an invitation,” Kautsire said. “This is a conversation, not a monologue. I want to hear my students’ stories; I want people to hear each other. I hope that what I share can help make immigrants feel more confident about navigating American culture.”


Ilsi Hernandez, a student in one of Kautsire’s writing classes, said “I felt a connection to Caroline from the very first chapter, where she talks about arriving in this beautiful country. I came here from Guatemala three years ago. The students in my class come from a range of different countries. We all had some kind of experience like what she describes when we first arrived, anxious to learn English, afraid we would not be understood.”

Kautsire hopes that nonimmigrants will draw insights from her story as well. In the talks she has given on campus so far, she has emphasized that Americans play their own role in this story.

“What does it mean to be an American living in a community with so many people from other countries?” she asked. “We need to hear their stories also, and understand how they feel about their identities as they interact with people who have left their home countries. What do you lose when you leave your home country, what do you gain when you live here, and what can an American learn from the experience of an immigrant?”

Moreover, she pointed out, themes such as financial insecurity and tensions between conformity and nonconformity feel relevant to nearly every college student, regardless of background.


As she takes part in discussions across campus and in the wider community, Kautsire is gaining new insights from what her readers see in her work.

“Knowing Bunker Hill chose my book to discuss is a sign that stories like mine are needed in communities that really want to bring about social and cultural change,” she said. “Not only does it validate the hard work I put into creating positive impact through my art, but it is also confirmation that my voice as a Malawian is relevant in America.

“I always tell my students that one of the responsibilities of a writer is to provide insight that helps us to cure ignorance. The One Book Program allows us to open a space for conversations that will enable us to connect, that will help us to realize that we are one.”

Nancy Shohet West can be reached at


COP28: Climate Summit in Closed Civic Space

Civil Society, Climate Action, Climate Change, Crime & Justice, Energy, Environment, Featured, Global, Headlines, Human Rights, Press Freedom, TerraViva United Nations


Credit: Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for Bloomberg Philanthropies

LONDON, Nov 17 2023 (IPS) – The need to act on the climate crisis has never been clearer. In 2023, heat records have been shattered around the world. Seemingly every day brings news of extreme weather, imperilling lives. In July, UN Secretary-General António Guterres grimly announced that ‘the era of global boiling has arrived’.

In short, there’s a lot at stake as the world heads into its next climate summit.

But there’s a big problem: COP28, the latest in the annual series of conferences of parties (COP) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, will be held in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). This is a country with closed civic space, where dissent is criminalised and activists are routinely detained. It’s also a fossil fuel power bent on continuing extraction.

At multilateral summits where climate change decisions are made, it’s vital that civil society is able to mobilise to demand greater ambition, hold states and fossil fuel companies and financiers to account and ensure the views of people most affected by climate change are heard. But that can’t happen in conditions of closed civic space.

Concerning signs

In September, the UAE was added to the CIVICUS Monitor Watchlist, which highlights countries experiencing significant declines in respect for civic freedoms. Civic space in the UAE has long been closed: no dissent against the government or advocacy for human rights is allowed, and those who try to speak out risk criminalisation. In 2022, a Cybercrime Law introduced even stronger restrictions on online expression.

There’s widespread torture in jails and detention centres and at least 58 prisoners of conscience have been held in prison despite having completed their sentences. Many of them were part of a group known as the UAE 94, jailed for the crime of calling for democracy. Among the ranks of those incarcerated is Ahmed Mansoor, sentenced to 10 years in jail in 2018 for his work documenting the human rights situation, and held in solitary confinement for over five years and counting.

Ahead of COP28, civil society has worked to highlight the absurdity of holding such a vital summit in closed civic space conditions. Domestic civil society is unable to influence COP28 and its preparatory process, and it’s hard to see how civil society, both domestic and international, will be able to express itself freely during the summit.

Civil society is demanding that the UAE government demonstrate that it’s prepared to respect human rights, including by releasing political prisoners – something it’s so far failed to budge on.

An ominous sign came when the UAE hosted a climate and health summit in April. Participants were reportedly instructed not to criticise the government, corporations, individuals or Islam, and not to protest while in the UAE.

Civic space restrictions aren’t the only indication the UAE isn’t taking COP28 seriously. The president of the summit, Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, also happens to be head of the state’s fossil fuel corporation ADNOC, the world’s 11th-biggest oil and gas producer. It’s like putting an arms manufacturer in charge of peace talks. Multiple other ADNOC staff members have roles in the summit. ADNOC is currently talking up its investments in renewable energies, all while planning one of the biggest expansions of oil and gas extraction of any fossil fuel corporation.

Instead of real action, all the signs are that the regime is instrumentalising its hosting of COP28 to try to launder its reputation, as indicated by its hiring of expensive international lobbying firms. An array of fake social media accounts were created to praise the UAE as host and defend it from criticism. A leaked list of key COP28 talking points prepared by the host made no mention of fossil fuels.

A summit that should be about tackling the climate crisis – and quickly – is instead being used to greenwash the image of the host government – something easiest achieved if civil society is kept at arm’s length.

Fossil fuel lobby to the fore

With civil society excluded, the voices of those actively standing in the way of climate action will continue to dominate negotiations. That’s what happened at COP27, also held in the closed civic space of Egypt, where 636 fossil fuel lobbyists took part – and left happy. Like every summit before it, its final statement made no commitment to reduce oil and gas use.

The only way to change this is to open the doors to civil society. Civil society has consistently sounded the alarm and raised public awareness of the need for climate action. It’s the source of practical solutions to cut emissions and adapt to climate impacts. It urges more ambitious commitments and more funding, including for the loss and damage caused by climate change. It defends communities against environmentally destructive impacts, resists extraction and promotes sustainability. It pressures states and the private sector to stop approving and financing further extraction and to transition more urgently to more renewable energies and more sustainable practices. These are the voices that must be heard if the cycle of runaway climate change is to be stopped.

COPs should be held in countries that offer an enabling civic space that allows strong domestic mobilisation, and summit hosts should be expected to abide by high standards when it comes to domestic and international access and participation. That should be part of the deal hosts make in return for the global prestige that comes with hosting high-level events. Civil society’s exclusion mustn’t be allowed to happen again.

Andrew Firmin is CIVICUS Editor-in-Chief, co-director and writer for CIVICUS Lens and co-author of the State of Civil Society Report.


Pacific Games Channels Youth Aspirations in the Solomon Islands

Asia-Pacific, Civil Society, Economy & Trade, Editors’ Choice, Featured, Headlines, Human Rights, Sustainable Development Goals, TerraViva United Nations, Youth


Jovita Ambrose and Timson Irowane are two young athletes training to be part of the Solomon Islands national team at the Pacific Games. Credit: Catherine Wilson/IPS

HONIARA, SOLOMON ISLANDS, Nov 17 2023 (IPS) – The Pacific Games, the most prestigious sporting event in the Pacific Islands region, will open in the Solomon Islands in the southwest Pacific on 19 November. And it is set to shine a spotlight on the energy, hopes and aspirations of youths who comprise the majority of the country’s population.

Timson Irowane (25), who has been competing in triathlons for the past six years, is brimming with confidence and anticipation. “The Pacific Games is a big event because my people are here, and it is very special because this is the first time the Solomon Islands is hosting the Games that I’ve been involved in,” Irowane told IPS during an interview at the Solomon Islands National Institute of Sport in the capital, Honiara. 

Every four years, a Pacific Island nation is chosen to host the regional multi-sport Pacific Games. And this year, about 5,000 athletes from 24 Pacific Island states, such as Papua New Guinea, Kiribati, Fiji and New Caledonia, will arrive in Honiara to compete in 24 sports, ranging from athletics and swimming to archery and basketball.

The Solomon Islands has a high population growth rate of 2.3 percent and about 70 percent of the country’s population of about 734,000 people are aged under 35 years. Christian Nieng, Executive Director of the Pacific Games National Hosting Authority, told IPS that it will be a chance to showcase their talents and achievements. “It is the biggest international event ever hosted in the country. And as we are hosting, we want to compete for every medal chance,” Nieng said.

Not far from Honiara city centre, the new Games precinct includes a large national stadium, which can accommodate 10,000 people, as well as swimming and tennis centres. Eighty percent of the funding needed to build the facilities and organize the Games has been provided by international donors and bilateral partners, including Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, China, Saudi Arabia, India, Korea and Indonesia.

“One of the long-term benefits of the Games is that we now have a new sports city as a legacy of the event,” Nieng added. It will be one of the best in the Pacific region, he believes, and, if well maintained, will last for 25 years, providing world-class facilities for Solomon Islanders to pursue their development and ambitions in sport.

At the sports institute, about 1,200 athletes are in training, and their energy and excitement is palpable. Here, Irowane, who is from Western and Malaita, two outer island provinces, is one among many who are striving to be selected for the national team of about 650 athletes who will represent the Solomon Islands later this month. His dedication has already led to international success. He participated in the Pacific Games held in Samoa in 2019 and numerous regional championships before heading to the Commonwealth Games hosted in Birmingham in the United Kingdom last year.

But he said that there were many wider benefits of sport to young people. “Triathlon is a multi-sport which involves discipline. Sport is not just for training, for fitness and skills that you learn in a specific sport, but it trains holistically to be a better person and a responsible person,” Irowane said. “And it helps athletes and individuals to be good citizens.”

Another local star aiming high is 21-year-old Jovita Ambrose, also from Malaita Province. “I started athletics and running during school games when I was 17 years old. When I’m running, I know that I’m good at it. When you are good at sport, it keeps you busy; it helps you stay healthy and not get involved in negative activities, such as drugs,” Ambrose said. In the last two years, she has travelled to competitions overseas, including the World Athletics Championships in Oregon in the United States last year and in Budapest, Hungary, three months ago.

Many local businesses in the formal and informal sectors are hoping for increased visitors and business during the Pacific Games being hosted in the Solomon Islands in late November. Burns Creek Settlement market in Honiara. Credit: Catherine Wilson/IPS

Many local businesses in the formal and informal sectors are hoping for increased visitors and business during the Pacific Games being hosted in the Solomon Islands in late November. Burns Creek Settlement market in Honiara. Credit: Catherine Wilson/IPS

The Solomon Islands has a rural majority population that is scattered across more than 900 islands where there is often limited access to roads, basic services and employment. And the younger generation faces significant economic and development challenges. In a country which is not generating enough jobs for those of working age, the government estimates that 16,000-18,000 youths enter the employment market every year, with less than 4,000 likely to gain a secure job. Estimates of youth unemployment range from 35 percent to 60 percent.

“There is a lot of unemployment and, also, under-employment, where young people get a job opportunity which does not match their skill set. It is a real frustration for them when they are educated and still waiting for a job opportunity,” Harry James Olikwailafa, Chairman of the Solomon Islands National Youth Congress, explained to IPS. “The important issues for young people today are economic opportunities, employment opportunities and educational opportunities.”

In the last two decades, Solomon Islanders have also grappled with the aftermath of a five-year civil conflict. ‘The Tensions’, triggered by factors including urban-rural inequality, corruption and competition for land and resources, erupted in 1998 between rival armed groups representing local Guale landowners on Guadalcanal Island and internal settlers from Malaita Province. Hostilities ended in 2003, by which time many people, including children, had experienced violence, atrocities and displacement and had been deprived of education.

Morrison Filia 936) and his wife, Joycelyn (32), grew up in the aftermath of the conflict. And now, through a new entrepreneurial initiative, are aiming to help grow economic opportunities in Honiara. In August, they launched a new tourism business, Happy Isle Tours and Transfers, which offers airport transfers for visitors and tourists to hotels, as well as tours of Honiara, its history and landmarks, and excursions to World War II memorial sites on Guadalcanal Island.

“In Honiara, there are a lot of young people, and employment is a problem. So, the main idea is that we try to create this business so that we can employ more young people. We are trying to give young people opportunities,” Morrison told IPS.

They have also opened their business in time for the Games. “One of the other reasons why we started the business is that we noticed tourists and visitors coming [to the Solomon Islands], but they find it difficult to find transport,” Joycelyn said. “We are excited and looking forward to the Games because we are expecting more tourists. It will bring other different people to the country, and we are expecting increased bookings. I think it will also increase employment in the country and help us in our economy,” she continued.

The Pacific Games will continue for two weeks and finish on the 2 December. And like Morrison and Joycelyn, Timson Irowane has long-term goals. “I wish to be a role model, to introduce the sports and motivate more young people to be involved in any sport they are interested in. I love to encourage them because we have the advantage of the facilities here beyond the Games,” he declared.

IPS UN Bureau Report