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We’ve come a long way, baby! – STIAS Public lecture by Linda Richter

STIAS Public Lectures Series

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Register here by 5 September 2023

Linda Richter, Professor in the Centre of Excellence in Human Development at the University of the Witwatersrand and STIAS Fellow will present a public lecture with the title:

We’ve come a long way, baby!
Birth to Thirty: Africa’s largest and longest running birth cohort study

During seven weeks in 1990, shortly after Nelson Mandela walked out of Victor Verster Prison a free man, 3273 children were born in Soweto and Johannesburg. We have followed these children and their families annually and sometimes biannually for 33 years to understand how their health and well-being changed as South Africa underwent political, social and economic transitions. We have collected biological, psychosocial and educational data, accumulating over 22 million raw data points on the Bt30 cohort, their parents and their own children. To date, we have mentored over 50 postgraduate students, published two books and more than 300 papers describing the lives of the cohort. The Birth to Thirty project continues to be a study as ambitious as the country we wanted to create. In conducting this study, we have grown, variously stumbled and succeeded, working in the cauldron of change, politics, miracles and misadventures that make our country the extraordinary place it is to live in and visit. In the lecture, I will concentrate on how the study emerged out of, and is shaped by, South Africa’s past and present, and what the main scientific contributions of the study have been to date. Finally, I will tell you some of what we have learned about this group of people in the three decades since 1990.

Linda Richter (PhD), a Developmental Psychologist, is a Distinguished Professor in the Centre of Excellence in Human Development at the University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa, of which she was the inaugural Director. She has been a Visiting Scholar at Harvard (USA), Melbourne (Aus) and Oxford (UK) Universities, and from 2010-2012 she was the Advisor on Vulnerable Children at the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria in Geneva. Linda is one of the original investigators and currently the co-Principal Investigator of the South African birth cohort study, Birth to Thirty (Bt30). She led the research and drafting of South Africa’s Integrated Early Childhood Development Policy, adopted by Cabinet in 2015, and the 2017 Lancet Series Advancing Early Child Development: From Science to Scale.  Linda currently leads the ECD Countdown to 2030 and the linked country profiles, as well as the UKRI-funded project Harnessing Global Data to Advance Young Children’s Learning and Development. Linda has published more than 330 papers in peer-reviewed journals and has received Life Time Achievement awards from both the South African Medical Research Council (2015) and the National Research Foundation (2021).

For more information, contact Ms Nel-Mari Loock at 021 808 2652 or [email protected]


Date and time

Thursday, 7 September 2023

16:00 – 18:30​

All times are in SAST (UTC+2)


STIAS Wallenberg Research Centre

STIAS, Marais Road, Mostertsdrift

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