About me

Photo: Zahara Abdul @photobyzaharaabdul Twitter: @zahraabdul1

I am a Lecturer (Assistant Professor) in Education and International Development at University College London, Institute of Education (UCL-IoE), Department of Education Practice and Society (EPS), Centre for Education and International Development (CEID). In my research, work and teaching I am particularly interested in:



  • The politics of education in developing and conflict-affected contexts
  • The implications of education sector governance & norms for peacebuilding and development processes
  • The interplay of education, gender and political agency
  • Gender, violence and education
  • Civil society & political and social agency in peacebuilding and development processes

My research has a strong focus on Sub-Saharan Africa, but occasionally, I also work on countries outside that region. Among others, I am teaching a MA Module on African Studies and Education at UCL.

Before I joined the UCL-IoE, I was a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Research Fellow (individual fellowship) at the University of Amsterdam (2016-2018), Department of Human Geography, Planning and International Development (GPIO). My project (ongoing, see: Democratization through Education), funded by the European Commission, focuses on the role of education in increasing civil agency and voice in the sub-Saharan African context. At the University of Amsterdam, I also taught the courses: ‘Education and International Development’ (BA) as well as ‘The Politics of Education, Conflict and Peace’ (MA).

From 2014-2016, I worked as a post-doctoral researcher (research associate) at the UNESCO Centre – Ulster University (School of Education), where I was part of a research consortium in partnership with UNICEF on Education and Peacebuilding. During that time, I acted as the lead researcher for the country case study on Uganda (see Peacebuilding and Education).

I obtained my PhD from the London School of Economics and Political Science (2010–2014) in International Relations, where I also taught the courses ‘Democracy and Democratization’ and ‘International Organizations’. My thesis focused on the depoliticization of civil society during the peacebuilding and development process in Sierra Leone from 2007-13. Prior to my doctoral studies I worked for the United Nations Peacebuilding Support Office in New York (2007–2010), for which I conducted research and in-depth analysis on several countries in transition from conflict to peace. Over the past decade, I have gained extensive field research experience in Sierra Leone, Uganda and Mexico. My research is published by highly ranked journals (e.g.: World Development, International Journal of Educational Development, International Peacekeeping, or Third World Quarterly) and esteemed international institutions (e.g.: SAIIA – South African Institute for International Affairs, UNICEF or TNI).

In the scope of my work, I rebel and research with a cause. I am dedicated to find new theoretical insights and practical avenues to increase the agency and voice of people who are most affected by poverty, conflict, and political and economic instability. In this endeavour I do not limit my work to academic publishing alone but explore various avenues – ranging from small-scale projects on the ground, to policy papers, blog post or various forms of art. Doing so, I find pleasure in networking and socializing around the world. Every single second and encounter can be a new source of inspiration. Politics & Voice captures this path.

Get involved or contact me at: s.datzberger@ucl.ac.uk