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Social Science & Public Policy

Professor Funmi Olonisakin

'Funmi Olonisakin

Job title

Professor of Security, Leadership
& Society

Founding Director of the African Leadership Centre


African Leadership Centre

Date started at King’s


Challenges and achievements

When and what was responsible for you becoming interested in your academic discipline?

I wanted to develop a better understanding of the conflicts and insecurities affecting people in my region and the continent of Africa as a whole; and to bring empirical knowledge to bear in policy responses to the problems of the region.

What are your research interests, and what drew you to this area? 

My research interests include:

  • Reframing narratives of statebuilding and peacebuilding

  • Leadership dynamics at the security and development nexus

  • Informal systems of governance, security and justice

  • Alternative conceptualisations of gender, security and development.

The prevailing trend of negative stereotypes and the need to seek a deeper understanding of the peculiarities of the continent while influencing policy responses to Africa’s security challenges.

Tell us about a couple of your achievements that have been particularly rewarding. 
  1. Establishing the African Leadership Centre in King’s and Nairobi, Kenya, as a space for building next generation of scholars and analysts generating ‘quality’ knowledge on peace, security and development in Africa.

  2. Appointment by the United Nations Secretary General to be one of a 7 member Advisory Group of Experts to review the UN Peace Building Architecture.

What if any support has most benefited you in your career?

The opportunity I have had to work with genuinely committed individuals who believe.

What do you feel is the most enjoyable/rewarding aspect of your job at King’s? 

The room created for me to simultaneously produce knowledge in my field and to transfer that knowledge through policy influencing, practical application and teaching.

How do you balance the various demands of a career in academia: research, teaching/learning, administration?

This is a challenge that I continuously strive to address.

How do you balance an academic career with life outside the workplace?

I feel quite fortunate that there is a pleasant and rewarding overlap between my “life” and my “living”.

What have you learnt from your experiences that you would like to share with others?

The importance of authenticity – being true to who you are and building knowledge and relationships with integrity.


Faculty of Social Science & Public Policy
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