The University Drop-In: The Life of Calestous Juma in His Own Words

In this inspiring book, Calestous Juma pens his remarkable story, from the curiosity that shaped his young mind in rural Kenya to the unconventional paths that lifted him to global influence in academia, innovation, and sustainable development.

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“It has been a pleasure and great joy reading this autobiography. I often laughed and cried. I heard CJ speaking!”

Writing in pen and ink the year before his untimely death at age 64, Calestous Juma sought to illuminate the personal path he took and to encourage others to make their own. He was always an influencer (what else would you call someone with over 100,000 Twitter followers?) long before the term became common currency. Whether as a science teacher, journalist, scholar, or policy pioneer, he sought to bring knowledge and vision to the hard work of making development sustainable.

In this very personal account, Juma takes us from his childhood in a fishing town on the shores of Lake Victoria, through his adventures in journalism, to his intellectual growth and emergence in the corridors of power in national and international environmental policymaking and academia. His trademark humor and sharing of political cartoons opened the door to frank exchanges and too many partnerships to count.

This work is published posthumously, exactly as he wrote it. Everyone who read the manuscript agreed: it must be shared with the world. We hope it will inspire you to contribute to the work ahead.

The Calestous Juma Legacy Foundation


Calestous Juma








7 x 10

Year Published


1 review for The University Drop-In: The Life of Calestous Juma in His Own Words

  1. Maria Victoria Beltran for Readers’ Favorite

    The University Drop-In: The Life of Calestous Juma in His Own Words is an inspiring autobiography. Professor Calestous Juma is an internationally recognized authority on the application of science and technology to sustainable development; he has certainly come a long way. Born in Bubamba in 1953, and raised in Port Victoria, Kenya, he grew up in a poor fishing community that was generally very supportive of children showing interest in learning. For high school, he went to a self-help school a mile away from home where the community built the first classroom and students were responsible for helping with subsequent classrooms until they graduated. He was a brilliant and determined student who would go on to become a teacher, journalist, policy pioneer, and scholar. This is his story.

    Calestous Juma’s The University Drop-In reveals in great detail his personal and professional journey. It covers his rural origins showing how his community helped to shape him into an influential science and technology policy scholar. It’s an unconventional and fascinating journey. In part a testimonial work that uses Juma’s story as an example for others, this story lists his successes as an encouragement not to let anything get in your way. It also breaks down complicated issues of innovation, science, and technology into layman’s terms that we can understand so that we can do our part in saving our planet. This is a remarkable story that must be told about a curious young boy from rural Kenya who grows up to be a man with global influence in academia, innovation, and sustainable development. Above all, Juma’s resilient optimism is contagious and inspiring. Highly recommended!

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About the Author

Calestous Juma (1953-2017) was Professor of the Practice of International Development and Director of the Science, Technology, and Globalization Project at Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. He was Founding Executive Director of the African Centre for Technology Studies in Nairobi, Fellow of the Royal Society of London, and Foreign Associate of the US National Academy of Sciences. His recent books include The New Harvest: Agricultural Innovation in Africa (2011) and Innovation and its Enemies: Why People Resist New Technologies (2016); more at