Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs
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Elisabeth King ─ What Kenyan Youth Want and Why it Matters for Peace

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

4 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.

McKinney Conference Room

The international aid community presents education and employment as the keys to mitigating youth participation in violence. Yet, existing evidence suggests that faith in such programs may be misplaced. Based on in-depth qualitative research with youth in Nairobi, this talk investigates the disconnect between faith and evidence, arguing that the dominant discourse surrounding education and employment programs makes problematic presumptions about youth and their interests. The predominantly economic theory of change upon which such programs are based overlooks the self-identity and interconnectedness factors that underlie youth hopes and aspirations, as well as governance and structural conditions that limit them. The qualitative research lays the foundation for a new quantitative study in-progress using a regression discontinuity design (RDD) of youth who just pass and just miss access to government funding for university. The RDD traces the effect of met vs. dashed aspirations on peace and conflict attitudes and behaviors.

Elisabeth King is Associate Professor of International Education & Politics at New York University and the founding director of NYU's new undergraduate minor in Peace and Conflict Studies. Her first book From Classrooms to Conflict in Rwanda, was named a Choice 2015 Outstanding Academic Title. She is currently working on several mixed-methods interdisciplinary projects studying development, conflict and peacebuilding.

Development Seminar