My life’s purpose is to inspire people to think and act as leaders and champions of positive change. As a professor, I inspire my students to think critically about inequality and conflict and give them the tools to develop their own cognitive models and eventually transform their learning experience into passionate endeavours that serve the common good.
Obasesam Okoi , PhD is an Assistant Professor of Justice and Peace Studies at the University of St Thomas, Minnesota, USA, where he teaches undergraduate courses such as Intro to Justice and Peace Studies and Public Policy Analysis and Advocacy.
He is a broadly trained scholar with a multidisciplinary background that includes peace and conflict studies, political science and international relations, international public policy, international development and global political economy, and civil engineering. Dr. Okoi’s scholarship inspires academics, practitioners, and students to think critically about the complex and dynamic nature of human conflict and the processes of peacebuilding, building upon rigorous research and his life experience as an activist.
Dr. Okoi is a pragmatic thinker who believes in merging theory with practice to bring about change. He has worked with hundreds of former insurgents in Nigeria’s oil region to assess the successes and failures of post-conflict peacebuilding policies and programs. His interdisciplinary research includes natural resource conflict and conflict resolution, governance and peacebuilding, the connection between engineering and peace. He also examines the alleviation of inequities that are emerging in Africa as a result of globalization, digitalization, and artificial intelligence as well as global pandemics. He has published in peer-reviewed journals such as Conflict Resolution Quarterly, African Security, World Development, International Journal on World Peace, Peace Review: A Journal of Social Justice, and in prominent global policy think tanks. He is currently working on a book project: “Punctuated Peace in Nigeria’s Oil Region.”
Dr. Okoi designs and evaluates change processes in post-conflict peacebuilding contexts and what impact these changes have on nations, communities, the business community, and armed groups. He is a Peace Ambassador – an honour bestowed on him by the Universal Peace Federation in recognition of his contribution to peace leadership in Africa. He is a professional negotiator, mediator and dialogue facilitator.
Prior to joining the faculty at St. Thomas, he taught at the University of Winnipeg, and Wilfrid Laurier University, Canada, where he directed undergraduate courses in human rights and international development. He was the Coordinator of the Africa Working Group Consortium. This initiative united scholars, students, and practitioners to explore peace and conflict issues on the African continent.
Dr. Okoi has contributed to a global policy response to address the effects of the COVID-19 crisis on vulnerable groups through the Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program at The Lauder Institute, The University of Pennsylvania. He was a member of the high-level expert advisory team mobilized by GovLab, in partnership with the Inter-American Development Bank, to advise political leaders from Argentina, Bahamas, Ceará-Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Honduras, Mexico, Peru, and Trinidad and Tobago on supporting marginalized and vulnerable populations during their COVID-19 response.
He is the author of The Spirit of Change: Rediscovering Our Humanity in a Precarious World, a highly sought-after book which earned him several invitations to international leadership forums where he speaks and trains hundreds of leaders on transformational leadership. In 2016, the Universal Peace Federation awarded him the Ambassador for Peace Award in recognition of his contribution to peace leadership.