In 2009-2010, the ALC with support from the Carnegie Corporation of New York undertook a Mapping Study on “Peace and Security Studies in African Universities.” This study had several objectives, including:
- Expanding the ALC’s (and its partners’) understanding of the state of knowledge building on peace and security in African Universities.
- Fostering close cooperation with select universities studying peace and security in Africa with a view to strengthening the work of the ALC and promoting its key strategic objectives.
- Using the mapping study and resulting collaboration with select African Universities as a basis of fostering closer associations with a broad range of actors in the field of peace and security in Africa including national and regional organisations as well as non-governmental entities.
The findings of that initial mapping study not only improved the ALC’s understanding of the state of peace and security studies in African universities, but also revealed important gaps and informed the ALC’s engagement and partnerships on issues of peace and security on the continent. Some of the conclusions and recommendations from that study pointed towards a future agenda for ALC, and other institutions seeking to contribute to peace and stability in Africa. The following questions and issues formed the core of the conclusions from the 2009 mapping study and conference, in which its findings were first disseminated:
- Defining “peace” and “security” for Africa: Given Africa’s unique history, it is important to examine the relevance of externally generated definitions and methodologies. This remains a priority intellectual challenge for African scholars and institutions as well as those seeking to support peace and security efforts in this terrain. There remains a dearth of historical analysis and consistent focus on conceptual study of peace and security. Understanding the evolution of this field in Africa, the nature of the terrain in which it is being studied and practiced is central to any effort to conceptually and practically grasp this field–– in an African context.
- Defining and designing the content of peace and security courses across Africa: Is there latitude for uniformly designing courses across Africa? Or should content be determined based on the peculiarities of different national or regional environments? Overall, there is merit in looking into the development of an Africa-centred curriculum that takes the experiences of the continent into account. • Peace and security as an evolving discipline in Africa: Like other parts of the world, this discipline is unlikely to remain static. Will it evolve based on the demands placed on it by stakeholders or in response to transformations within the peacebuilding terrain? If so, how can the study of the field and curriculum be adapted in this regard?
- Developing a network of scholars, teachers and mentors: Is it possible to develop such a network across African Universities? How can we overcome the challenges posed by university governance structures? Is a “Centre of Excellence” approach along regional lines useful in the effort to develop such a network?
- Overcoming language barriers in the teaching and study of peace and security in Africa: This remains a continuous challenge in the effort to build Africa-wide networks and developing curricula and systems of engagement that connect scholars and institutions across the continent. It requires coherent, long-term strategies and engagement.
- Ensuring a connection between universities and the rest of society: This is perhaps the most difficult challenge that confronts the effort to develop a coherent and robust study of peace and security in Africa. Studying peace and security is not an end in itself. The very essence of such a project is to ensure that the network of scholars and universities remain relevant to the security and development challenges confronting African citizens and states. Only a systematic engagement with the African peace and security terrain beyond the first important step of teaching and research will ensure that relevance. At the moment, such systematic engagement is yet to occur and in the absence of this, the ideas, strategies and resources for responding to Africa’s security challenges are largely externally generated alongside few isolated African voices and opinions.