(Re)Conceptualizing the Role of Higher Education in Emergency Contexts
Toni Cela

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Dissertation Fellowship

Award Year



Teachers College, Columbia University

Primary Discipline

Comparative Education
While higher education (HE) has been largely marginalized within the international education development agenda and excluded from national rebuilding plans of post-disaster and post-crisis societies, post-disaster countries like Haiti are witnessing emerging interventions from their diaspora in redefining the role of HE in national rebuilding efforts as well as long term development. Haiti offers an exemplar setting to study and understand the complexity inherent in diaspora-based development and its implications for the field of HE in the global South. This study employs a multidisciplinary and mixed-methods approach over an 18-month period, to answer the following question: How has diaspora engagement impacted higher education reform in post-disaster Haiti? This study operates with the assumption that the reconceptualization of the role of HE in Haiti?s rebuilding and development is embedded in larger transnational processes that involves multiple agents with competing agendas, acting from different institutional power positions. Drawing on practice theory and a post-structuralist notion of power, as well as literatures in educational development, this study aims to develop a broader understanding of the impact of a network of transnational actors, specifically the diaspora, on HE in emergency contexts. This study is significant as it will: shed light on the potential role of HE, an overlooked sector in international educational development, to create sustainable development solutions for nations in the global South; build on our existing knowledge of collaboration and its complexities, particularly those resulting from transnational processes; and expand our understanding of the role of diaspora communities in homeland educational development.
About Toni Cela

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