Studying how societies can manage changes that underline acrimonious intergroup relations is bound to be a worthwhile intellectual engagement. Obtaining a degree in War Studies continues to be a rare form of expertise."'Funmi Olonisakin
01 September 2021
MA War Studies 1990, PhD War Studies 1996 | Vice President & Vice Principal (International), King’s College London
Some of my favourite memories of War Studies include simulation seminars on topics such as the Cuban Missile Crisis by Dr Phil Sabin, visiting the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe at NATO, healthy debates and boisterous camaraderie among my classmates on the margins of War Studies events, and the student induction weekends at Cumberland Lodge.
From all these came genuine and time-tested friendships that have underlined my entire time at King’s. Being a beneficiary of world class academics was the icing on the cake, and to this day makes King’s a great place to study.
A major skill I learnt from my degrees, which is currently seeing me through life, is the ability to be deferential without being obsequious in debates. I also learnt the skill of weighing up and appreciating the consequences of all options, before taking action. These skills served me well during my work at the United Nations.
After graduation, I took up two post-doctoral fellowships, first at the University of Pretoria at a very important moment in the post-apartheid history of South Africa – a life-changing experience for me, the second at King’s. This then led to working at the United Nations in New York 1999- 2003 in the Office of the UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict. The MA in War Studies stood me apart from other young scholars. My background understanding of realworld issues around violent conflict gave me a rare form of expertise.
I then returned to King’s in 2003, taking on numerous roles including establishing the African Leadership Centre in 2010 as a collaboration between King’s and the University of Nairobi, and serving as Vice-Dean International in the Faculty of Social Science & Public Policy. In 2017 I became Vice President & Vice Principal (International), the role I am currently serving in.
The world has changed significantly since I was a student in War Studies in the late 1980s to the mid-1990s, as things considered hitherto unthinkable are now daily occurrences. In a world that is constantly evolving, studying how societies can manage changes that underline acrimonious intergroup relations is bound to be a worthwhile intellectual engagement. Obtaining a degree in War Studies continues to be a rare form of expertise.