Stevanovich Institute on the Formation of Knowledge names executive director

Macol Stewart Cerda, a leader in fostering collaborative research with broad societal impact, has been named executive director of the Stevanovich Institute on the Formation of Knowledge at the University of Chicago.

In her new position, Cerda will work closely with inaugural faculty director Shadi Bartsch-Zimmer to support collaboration among scholars from different fields to study the process of knowledge formation and transmission, and to explore how the history of this process shapes our modern world.

“The Stevanovich Institute is delighted to welcome Macol aboard,” said Bartsch-Zimmer, the Helen A. Regenstein Distinguished Service Professor in Classics and the College. “Her work will be essential to our success, and we look forward to an extremely productive partnership.”

Cerda holds a bachelor’s degree from Princeton and two master’s degrees from Yale, including an MA in international relations. As founder of her own strategy practice, Silmaril Consulting, Cerda has extensive experience in convening innovators, building partnerships and mobilizing resources to develop multidisciplinary responses to pressing cultural concerns. 

Cerda has worked most recently as a consultant to the Pilsen-based arts incubator Mana Contemporary Chicago. She served as an Investing in Women in Development Fellow at USAID from 2001 to 2003 and spent four years as Climate Program Director for Africa at NOAA, where she raised more than $10 million for research on economic development across Africa.

“I am excited to join the Stevanovich Institute on the Formation of Knowledge at this pivotal juncture,” said Cerda. “With the information overload we face today in our globalized world, questions about the foundations of knowledge have never been more important.”

Founded in April 2015, the Stevanovich Institute on the Formation of Knowledge brings together scholars from many fields to examine the historical, social and intellectual circumstances that give rise to different kinds of knowledge, and to assess how this knowledge shapes the modern world. It is named for University Trustee Steve G. Stevanovich, AB’85, MBA’90, and his wife Ashley, in recognition of their $10 million donation to the University in support of the program.