Program overview

The newly established Center for Human Evolutionary Studies was originally launched as Paleoanthropology and Paleoenvironment Masters Program in 2010. It is the only program in Ethiopia, and was established to utilize the unique paleontological, paleoanthropological, archaeological, paleobotanical and paleoclimate resources which Ethiopia is endowed with. These resources are unparalleled by those of any other country in the world. The various important discoveries in paleoanthropological research made in Ethiopia every year demonstrate the fact that Ethiopia’s wealth of natural history is among the most sought-after spots of research. Ethiopia occupies a central location in the world from the human origins and evolutionary history point of view. Recent findings also indicate that it is becoming a crucial site for primate evolution. The longest record and the largest number of hominid species have been found in Ethiopia. Geologically, it holds a thirty million or more record of volcanism, rifting, sedimentation and a well preserved record of geological process, ancient climate and fossils of fauna and flora.

These rich geological, paleontological, archaeological, paleobotanical and paleoclimate resources have not yet been systematically and exhaustively explored. It is believed that Addis Ababa University has not so far made use of the scientific and academic potential of these resources which could make great contributions to science.

One of the main objectives of establishing this Center is to fill the expert gap and create scientists who will be involved in conducting scientific research, training at higher learning institutions, and who would contribute in conserving the country’s cultural heritages, and in tourism development endeavors.

Following the 2016 Addis Ababa University-wide curriculum review process, the Paleoanthropology and Paleoenvironment Program was reviewed and expanded into three programs (MSc in Paleoanthropology, Paleobotany and Paleoclimate). These programs were approved by the Academic Commission (AC) of the College of Natural and Computational Sciences and following this the AC has also approved the expansion of the Program into Center for Human Evolutionary Studies.  Similarly, the University Senate has approved the three programs.

The Program works in Collaboration with national and international institutions including: the Authority for Research and Conservation of Cultural Heritage of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, the University of Texas at Austin and Southern Methodist University of Texas.