Joel Samoff

Consulting Professor, African Studies, School of Humanities and Sciences
Headshot of Joel Samoff

From Kilimanjaro coffee farmers in Tanzania to militant bus drivers in Ann Arbor Michigan to the education activists of South Africa and Namibia, the orienting concern of Joel Samoff’s work has been understanding how people organize themselves to transform their communities. With a background in history (BA Antioch College), political science (MA, PhD, University of Wisconsin), and education, he studies and teaches about development and underdevelopment, with a particular interest in education, and with a primary geographic focus on Africa. For many years he has studied politics and public policy in South Africa. He joined the Stanford faculty in 1980 and is currently at the Center for African Studies. He has also been a faculty member at the Universities of California, Michigan, and Zambia, and he has taught for shorter periods in Mexico, South Africa, Sweden, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe. In 2005 he received an honorary doctorate from the University of Pretoria. Concerned with public policy as well as research, and especially with the links between the two, he works regularly with international agencies involved in African education. In recent years he has worked with UNESCO and the Association for the Development of Education in Africa to review and improve aid-funded education research in Africa. Recent projects have included two evaluations of aid to education for the Danish government and a review of education trends in eastern Africa for a Dutch NGO. Formerly its North America Editor, he serves on the Editorial Board of the International Journal of Educational Development and on the Advisory Boards of the Comparative Education Review, the Journal of Educational Research in Africa, and the Southern African Review of Education. Among his publications are: “Bantu Education, People's Education, Outcomes-Based Education: Whither Education in South Africa,” in Weber, Educational Change in South Africa: Reflections on Local Realities, Practices, and Reforms (2008); The World Bank and Education: Critiques and Alternatives (co-edited with Steven J. Klees and Nelly P. Stromquist) (2012); “Institutionalizing International Influence,” and “Education for All in Africa: Not Catching Up but Setting the Pace” (with Bidemi Carrol) in Arnove and Torres, Comparative Education: The Dialectic of the Global and the Local  (2013); Education for All: A Global Commitment Without Global Funding (co-authored with Margaret Irving) (2014).