Kenneth Menkhaus


Political Science

Thematic Experience:

Comparative Perspectives, Conflict

Geographical Expertise:

Sub-Saharan Africa

Dr. Menkhaus has taught political science at Davidson since 1991. His courses focus on international and comparative politics as well as the non-profit sector. His regional specialization is on the politics of the Horn of Africa.

In 1987 he was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship for his dissertation research on Somalia, after which I came to specialize on the Horn of Africa. He has published on topics including development, conflict analysis, peace operations, state failure, state-building, humanitarianism, and political Islam.

Before arriving at Davidson, he taught for two years at the American University in Cairo, Egypt from 1989 to 1991. In 1993-1994, he served as special political advisor in the U.N. Operation in Somalia, was a visiting civilian professor at the U.S. Army Peacekeeping Institute in 1994-1995, and was awarded a visiting scholar position at the U.S. Army Strategic Studies Institute in 2011-2012. In 2004, he received a U.S. Institute of Peace grant for my research on armed conflict in the Horn of Africa.

Much of his professional work has been in applied settings. He regularly serves as a consultant for the United Nations, the World Bank, U.S. Government, non-governmental organizations, policy research and advocacy groups, and the private sector. This work includes country risk analysis, conflict assessments, project monitoring and evaluation, and political economy assessments. He is a Senior Fellow with the Rift Valley Institute, where he directed their annual Horn of Africa course from 2008 to 2014, and is Senior Research Advisor for the Enough Project.

He has provided expert testimony on five occasions before Congressional subcommittees, and he has been interviewed on BBC, CNN-International, FOX, Voice of America, Al Jazeera, NPR’s All Things Considered, PBS News Hour, the Diane Rehm Show, Fareed Zakaria’s Global Public Square, and MSNBC’s Hardball with Chris Matthews, among others.

He has published more than 100 articles, book chapters, monographs, and reports, including Somalia: State Collapse and the Threat of Terrorism (2004), “Governance without Government in Somalia” in International Security (2007), “Stabilisation and Humanitarian Access in a Collapsed State: The Somali Case,” in Disasters (2010), “Terrorism, Security, and the State,” in Routledge Handbook of African Politics, (2014), “Somalia Conflict Analysis” (Feb.2014), and “Conflict Assessment 2014: Northern Kenya and Eastern Somaliland” (March 2015).

One of his teaching passions is the course Philanthropy and the Non-Profit Sector, which includes a grant-giving exercise requiring the students to review grant applications from local non-profits and disburse $10,000 in grant awards. That award money was generously provided to the class by Doris Buffett’s Learning by Giving Foundation. This course served as a prototype for her Foundation’s support to teaching effective giving at 35 other American universities.

In his spare time he enjoys playing tennis and traveling with his family. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of South Carolina and B.A. from Xavier University.