Honors College Capstone Experience/Thesis Projects

Department

Philosophy and Religion

Document Type

Thesis

Abstract

My thesis investigates how higher education institutions influence and interact with students and professors, policymakers, the economy, and the general population following ethnic conflict. I use a mixed-method comparative analysis of universities in Kosovo, Sri Lanka, Sudan, and Turkey and an in-depth case study of Kosovo to analyze the dynamics of higher education in post-conflict environments. The majority of my research is drawn from personal interviews conducted between June 2017 and October 2017. I interviewed students, alumni, faculty, and administrators from Kosovo’s three most prominent universities: the University of Pristina, the University of Mitrovica, and the Rochester Institute of Technology Kosovo. The relationship between higher education and ethnic conflict can be broken down into four areas: ideology, language, intergroup contact, and the economy. Comparing universities in Kosovo, Sri Lanka, Sudan, and Turkey, reveals that higher education can be used as a means of marginalization by nationalists and the government. Fortunately, Sri Lanka, Turkey, and Kosovo, have, at least in part, also begun to use universities as a tool of recovery and reconciliation. In Kosovo, both public universities, the University of Mitrovica and the University of Pristina, struggle to overcome identity politics and reform at the pace the country needs. While RITK implements more effective teaching strategies and attempts to transcend ethnic boundaries, its small class size and high tuition limit its impact. Ultimately, the analysis suggests that those in charge of post-conflict reconstruction should prioritize rebuilding and reopening universities, assist public universities in reforming their curriculum, instructor training, and university policies, and reconstruct universities in a manner that intentionally encourages meaningful contact between ethnic groups.

Advisor(s) or Committee Chair

Dr. Marko Dumancic, Dr. Soleiman Kiasatpour, Dr. Audra Jennings

Disciplines

Education | History | International and Area Studies | Political Science

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