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Who are you and how best can we describe your work?
My name is Inga Ackermann and I am an Online Learning and Leadership Coordinator in the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, the UK. In my role, I am supporting young leaders of the Sub-Saharan Africa through an array of sustainability-focused postgraduate learning opportunities. I am primarily responsible for academic and wellbeing support, as well as development of an empowering leadership programme. By September 2023, the programme has already supported 85 postgraduate online distance learning scholars, across 16 African countries on 9 degree programmes. 90 scholars are currently pursuing their MSc and Postgraduate Diploma degrees at the University of Edinburgh.
What ultimate goal are you pursuing in your work with Mastercard Foundation Scholars?
Over the next 7 years we aim to nurture a supportive community of entrepreneurial, professional and justice-oriented climate leaders from across Africa. Our approach to tackling the climate crisis is grounded in the Mastercard Foundation’s vision of Transformative Leadership, defined as ‘the act of engaging others in an ethical manner to generate positive and lasting change.’ Therefore, our Climate Leadership Programme emphasises the importance of justice, inclusion and community. Because of this, we encourage applications from women, people with disabilities, and people with refugee status, since they are uniquely positioned to create inclusive approaches based on their experiences. We believe that their perspectives and solutions are essential for creating a more just and equitable society. We are committed to providing these individuals with the support and resources they need to succeed.
How would you like to benefit from the vibrant network of Mastercard Foundation University Partners?
The Mastercard Foundation scholarship offers much more than just financial support. The Scholars Program at the University of Edinburgh aims to connect scholars with climate leadership opportunities, network and support systems to enable them to make the most of the opportunities available, and to give back to their communities. Our program team is based in Edinburgh but the vast majority of our online scholars are located elsewhere, mainly on the African continent. We are particularly interested in developing regional hubs where online distance learners could come together to challenge, inspire, learn and support each other. We very much hope that strong connections and partnership within the vibrant network of Mastercard Foundation University Partners will help us in this ambition. Collaborative opportunities include developing joint leadership development workshops, networking events, and community projects. We are very keen to link scholars across the network to explore enterprise challenges and external funding acquisition. Our scholars are interested in mentorship opportunities with industry leaders but could also serve as mentors for less experienced scholars. Over the course of 2-3 years of part-time study, we witness how the scholars progress in their careers and contribute to the positive change in the society.
What are your current and future projects?
We are currently running our applications for 2023-34 intake and those eligible are welcome to apply . The application deadline is December 7th. Please read more about the postgraduate programmes we support and our application process here:
We are currently working on the development of an Africa-based climate justice summer school in 2023. Watch this space!