I'm a Youth Geographer!


For over 10 years, I have actively questioned and attempted to educate myself of the intersections of development, environment, and young people. I call myself an interdisciplinary scholar as I have never been comfortable in one of these fields of study. I started out with a four-year Bachelors in Environmental Sciences which I thoroughly enjoyed because it was alongside multifarious educational, activism, and development work. In 2011-2013, I took the first attempt to specialize in  the policy field. But as soon as I wrote my MPhil thesis in Environmental Policy, it was clear that, such a direction was never the only one I would take. 
Thus, I ended up convincing myself to undertake the Oxford's DPhil in Geography and the Environment. For three years, my doctoral research project brought together all my interest areas into one  ambitious research project - investigating the changing aspirations of educated youth in contemporary Africa. I started with something like 'Young elites, livelihoods and politics in Africa' but eventually submitted my thesis with the title 'Educated Youth in Kenya: Negotiating Waithood by Greening Livelihoods'. I am still wondering how I coined this title, but yes, it did work for my research interests and the interdisciplinary interests I have. 
Now a Geographer, my areas of interest remain:- 

1. Youth - their agency, their aspirations, and their pathways to becoming adults and finding work in the twenty first century, particularly on the African continent.  

2. Elites - loosely defined as those with post-secondary education including diploma and university education, who are considered the privileged of society, yet struggle to find employment. I am interested in how they perceive and utilize their educational capitals to getting by. 

3. Livelihoods - I am interested in the diversity of strategies that young people employ to earn a living. I have been researching side-hustling, tarmacking, entrepreneurship, and interested in other ways that young people express the different ways they earn an income. I have researched and  continue to have interest in the notions of youth in agriculture, youth environmentalism, youth entrepreneurship, youth and the ICT revolution, youth gambling, youth formal employment and labour market rigidities, youth work and the gig economy, social entrepreneurship, and gendered livelihoods, among others. 

4. Politics & Governance - Researching African youth is researching the politics of the states, their communities, and the everyday politics of the young people themselves. Politics helps ask bigger questions about who is represented in the youth definition, how are youth livelihood opportunities created, and how does resource governance relate with notions of youth on the African continent. 

5. Environment - Having first trained as environmentalist helps me easily work beyond my silos. All the work that I do eventually seeks to demonstrate how young people, in their being and becoming adults, shape, or indeed are shaped by environmental change in Africa. I am interested in notions of  sustainable development, climate-smart development, greening livelihoods, green jobs, youth and climate change, and environmental activism among others.

My skills and expertise acquired in these fields has been instrumental to  governments, NGOs, private companies, grassroots movements as well as young people who hire me. Check my Twitter account @gracemwaura and LinkedIn profile Grace Mwaura for more information.


1 comment:

  1. Many thanks for the brilliant work, Dr Grace Gmwaura! We share many common interests in youth development, graduate (un)employment, politics and entrepreneurial narrative.

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