Six Years of Sustained Dialogue at Ethiopian Universities

"Conflicts in Ethiopia are fomented by structural as well as historical factors; both of which are driven by cultural dimensions. With internal dimensions and external triggers, ethnic and religious identity serves as a key mobilizing ground for conflict in Ethiopia. Where the two overlap, the division between identity groups is magnified and ethnic-based and religious-based grievances are compounded. University campuses are the primary locations for the coming together of the composite groups of Ethiopian societies, as students from different groups live in close proximity, often for the first time, to others. Modern history has brought into stark relief the critical role of the university campus in setting the tone for peace and conflict in the country. This pertains not only to student mobilization and demonstrations that lead to violent clashes, but also to the less obvious impact of the cascading effects of the divisions and zero sum attitudes solidified in university students as they bring home hardened views towards other groups. University students become leaders of movements in their communities; and communities generally have less potential for engagement with other groups to deconstruct the pernicious effects of ‘othering’, as students might on campus."