University of Leicester hosts workshop on nation building in Afghanistan

Posted by pt91 at Dec 15, 2011 11:00 AM |
Role of universities in promoting peace discussed at international workshop
University of Leicester hosts workshop on nation building in Afghanistan

The Vice Chancellor of the University of Leicester, Sir Robert Burgess with a delegation from Kabul University, including Professor Hamidullah Amin, Chancellor Kabul University (centre).

JPEG images from the workshop available via

The University of Leicester hosted a major international workshop in December examining how Afghan universities can contribute to peace and nation building in their home country.

The workshop ‘Towards peace in Afghanistan through University Strengthening’ was funded by the British Council and UK Department for International Development. Attracting delegates from Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Czech Republic, Iraq, USA and the UK, it focused on institutional strengthening of Universities in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq.

A range of themes were investigated and discussed, including the purpose of a university, who it serves, how it links to community, government and industry and, perhaps most importantly, how Afghan universities can contribute to peace and nation building. 

Afghanistan currently has one of the lowest ratios of university places to population in the world and desperately needs to build capacity in this area to train its 15 million young people desperate for new knowledge, skills and non-warrior livelihoods.

The largest contingent at the workshop was from Afghanistan and included the Chancellor of Kabul University, His Excellency Professor Hamidullah Amin; Head of Environment & Disaster Management, Professor Lutfullah Safi; and Mrs Gulghutai Waizi from the British Council ( in Kabul). 

Academics from Kabul University met with the Vice Chancellor, Professor Sir Robert Burgess, and Pro-Vice Chancellor International, Professor Douglas Tallack, exploring ways in which Kabul University could form collaborative linkages with the University of Leicester. 

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Delegates from Kabul university, Afghanistan (including Professor Hamidullah Amin, Chancellor Kabul University, centre) with Pro-Vice Chancellor Professor Douglas Tallack (right of centre) and Professor Mike Petterson (second right of centre).

Professor Mike Petterson of the University of Leicester who led and facilitated the workshop commented ‘Afghanistan’s 30 year war has resulted in the loss of a whole generation of people, skills and experience – universities are a key engine of national development for the future’. 

The predominant subject focus was earth and environmental science and its contribution to nation building: this discussion benefitted from inputs from Head of the Department of Geology, Professor Mike Lovell.  Joel Gill from Kings College, London, presented a particularly exciting initiative called ‘Geology for Global Development’ (GfGD) which aims to provide UK earth science students with opportunities to work in the Developing and Emerging World.  Sarah Hey and Laura Wilson, currently undergraduates at the University of Leicester Department of Geology are keen to help set up a GfGD section in Leicester and through the workshop organiser, Kristina Burns, link with undergraduates in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and beyond. 

Current and recent researchers from the University of Leicester, Irfan Jan, Stephen Collett and Ghazanfar Khattack, presented their work as examples of current geological research in the Afghan-Pakistan region.

Workshops such as these that allow people to meet, spend time in a mutually respectful manner analysing important ways forward and seeking genuine collaboration are examples of peace in action, the workshop delegates agreed.

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