The role of higher education in peacebuilding : an interplay of global education norms and local contexts
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Education and peacebuilding are two research fields that have been mainly intersecting paths in the last two decades. Policies, international agendas, initiatives, programmes, did not completely caught up with the demand for interaction between education and peacebuilding, but within primary and secondary education, some advances have been registered. Notwithstanding, higher education is barely present in this discussions and it is the aim here to demonstrates that it deserves more attention. This thesis investigates therefore the potential role higher education can play in peacebuilding architecture and interventions, while at the same time, it seeks to inspire towards further research. Drawing upon sociological institutionalism insights in International Relations, the thesis places a particular emphasis on the way global education norms influence higher education in peacebuilding. Exploring both the effects global norms have on higher education in fragile context, and identifying what characterizes local contexts during peacebuilding interventions, the research found a discrepancy between the realities of implementing education initiatives in fragile contexts, and the necessities of peacebuilding approaches, but also uncovered the potential in designing programmes that combine the two. This thesis presents the results of qualitative research, where the primary data, defined by three case studies, is combined with in-depth literature review and theoretical insights, with the aim of creating a map of a complex and dynamic, yet under-researched field. Exploring India as a historical case, Sierra Leone as a country where peacebuilding is largely considered a success, and Afghanistan, as a case where peacebuilding interventions have not reached their goals, the thesis attempts to contribute to the yet limited academic debate on the role of higher education in peacebuilding.