Joel Samoff

Adjunct Professor
African Studies
Joel Samoff

An experienced educator, researcher, and evaluator, Joel Samoff combines the scholar’s critical approach and extensive experience in international development. With a background in history, political science, and education, he studies and teaches about education and development. From Kilimanjaro coffee farmers in Tanzania to militant bus drivers in Ann Arbor Michigan to the education activists of Namibia and South Africa, the orienting concern of his work has been understanding how people organize themselves to transform their communities. He joined the Stanford University faculty in 1980 and is currently in the Center for African Studies. He has also been a faculty member at the Universities of California (Los Angeles; Santa Barbara), Michigan, and Zambia and has taught in Mexico, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe. The recipient of an honorary doctorates from the University of Pretoria and the University of the Free State in South Africa, he chaired the International Advisory Council of the University of the Free State. Concerned with public policy as well as research, and especially with the links between them, Samoff works regularly with international agencies and NGOs involved in African education. Formerly its North America Editor, he serves on the Editorial Board of the International Journal of Educational Development and on the editorial boards of the Comparative Education Review, the Journal of Educational Research in Africa, and the Southern African Review of Education.

Among his publications are:

  • Capturing Complexity and Context: Evaluating Aid to Education (co-authored with Jane Leer and Michelle Reddy) (Stockholm: Expert Group for Aid Studies, 2016).
  • Education for All: A Global Commitment Without Global Funding (co-authored with Margaret Irving) (London: Education Support Programme, Open Society Foundations,  ESP Working Paper Series, No. 60, 2014). 
  • “Institutionalizing International Influence,” In Robert F. Arnove, Carlos Alberto Torres, and Stephen Franz, editors, Comparative Education: The Dialectic of the Global and the Local (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, Fourth Edition, 2013), 55-87.
  • “Education for All in Africa: Not Catching Up but Setting the Pace” (with Bidemi Carrol), in Robert F. Arnove, Carlos Alberto Torres, and Stephen Franz, editors, Comparative Education: The Dialectic of the Global and the Local (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, Fourth Edition, 2013), 403-443.
  • “Crossing Borders: Research in Comparative and International Education” (co-authored with Jesse Foster and Nii Antiaye Addy), International Journal of Educational Development 32, 6 (November 2012): 711-732.
  • “Scaling Up by Focusing Down: Creating Space and Capacity to Extend Education Reform in Africa” (co-authored with Martial Dembélé and E. Molapi Sebatane) in Leon Tikly and Angeline M. Barrett, editors, Education Quality and Social Justice in the South: Challenges for policy, practice and research (London: Routledge, 2012).
  • The World Bank and Education: Critiques and Alternatives (co-edited with Steven J. Klees and Nelly P. Stromquist) (Rotterdam: Sense Publishers, 2012), which includes: “More of the Same Will Not Do: Learning without Learning in the World Bank's 2020 Education Strategy,” pp. 109-121; “‘Research Shows That...’ : Creating the Knowledge Environment for Learning for All,”pp. 143-157.
  • “Foreign Aid to Education: Managing Global Transfers and Exchanges,” in Linda Chisholm and Gita Steiner-Khamsi, editors, South-South Cooperation in Education and Development (New York: Teachers College Press, 2009), pp. 123-156.
  • “Bantu Education, People's Education, Outcomes-Based Education: Whither Education in South Africa,” in Everard Weber, editor, Educational Change in South Africa: Reflections on Local Realities, Practices, and Reforms (Rotterdam: Sense Publishers, 2008), pp. ix-xvi.
  • From Manpower Planning to the Knowledge Era: World Bank Policies on Higher Education in Africa (co-authored with Bidemi Carrol) (Paris: UNESCO Forum on Higher Education, Research and Knowledge, 2004)
  • “Managing Knowledge and Storing Wisdom? New Forms of Foreign Aid?” (co-authored with Nelly P. Stromquist), Development and Change 32,4 (September 2001): 631-656.
  • Coping With Crisis: Austerity, Adjustment, and Human Resources (editor) (London: Cassell, 1994).
  • Education and Social Transition in the Third World (co-authored with Martin Carnoy) (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1990).


(650) 856-2326
100A Encina Commons
Research Interest(s)
African Politics, Foreign Aid, Political Development and Modernization, Politics and Education