University agency in peacebuilding: Perspectives on conflict and development in Kenya

Ane Turner Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


In 2007, Kenya erupted into violence as a result of heavily contested elections. Because identity divisions lay at the heart of the conflict, the nation's public universities were deeply impacted, at times pitting students, faculty, and staff against one another, and disrupting the ability of Kenyan higher education to contribute to the development process. This qualitative case study explores how faculty and administrators, at two public institutions in a conflict zone, understand and describe their university's contributions to development. Analyzed through the lens of conflict transformation, the data reveal that the universities changed internal policies and practices to accommodate constituents impacted by the conflict and to cut across conflict lines, and that participants shifted in their thinking about the institution's internal and external relationships and purposes. The article has two aims. It offers preliminary heuristics for peacebuilding as a university process, providing a framework of practices and policies that engage university constituencies and may transform conflict. It also shows how conflict changed participants' perspectives about the relationships between themselves, higher education, and development in their country. Further, this article explores a connection between participant beliefs about peacebuilding and development in Kenya.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)329-345
Number of pages17
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education


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