What is in a name? Shakesperare once pondered but for Gulu University what is in its name is a pointer to where the university is located, Gulu, the largest town in northern Uganda. The ultimate goal of Gulu University is to be an academic institution that is at the forefront of the promotion of rural transformation and industrialization with the core purpose of fostering sustainable development. The University as well hopes to expand access to higher education, conduct applied research and provide quality professional training that is specifically tailored for social transformation and conservation of bio-diversity.
Gulu University emphasizes the need to generate knowledge and skills that could solve the immediate problems of the community which aspect is the source of its motto Gulu University for Community transformation. For a university that is an urban-rural-based academic institution of higher learning and which is particularly situated within conflict-prone Northern Uganda, and amidst war-devastated communities, it is only understandable that it has such great concern for the communities around the institution.
Gulu University believes that by interfacing with the community, the community is empowered and enabled to improve their livelihoods and face war-time exigencies and post-war challenges.
From the socio-political and economic perspectives, the University’s establishment was issue-based and demand-driven. It was intended to, inter alia, address the problem of imbalances of location of institutions of higher learning, and expand access to higher education for the rapidly increasing number of children passing through the Universal Primary Education (UPE) and the Uganda Post-Primary Education and Training (UPET) or the Universal Secondary Education programmes.
From the onset, the main aim of the University has been to provide high-level appropriate education, research and to stimulate economic activities in the war-ravaged region of Northern Uganda. In the long run, this is expected to contribute towards the promotion and enhancement of holistic socio-economic and human development.
Gulu University was opened by the Government of Uganda in October 2002, following its statutory establishment as a corporate entity under Sections 22(1), 23(1), 24(1) and 25 of the University and Other Tertiary Institutions Act, No.7 of 2001 (as amended by Act No. 3 of 2006). The University commenced its operation informally in October 2002. Its establishment and operation was formalized retrospectively and was legally brought into effect by the University and Other Tertiary Institutions (Establishment of Gulu University) Statutory Instrument No. 31 of 2003.
The University has now 5 faculties and 2 institutes. With these rapid institutional and infrastructural developments, the University is invaluably located to contribute to equitable development by stimulating innovations in education as well as technical and economic empowerment in the region. It will continue to achieve this by, among other things, promoting applied research, capacity building, leadership development, and institution building.
Currently, most of the students in the University are from Northern Uganda, a region where up to 1.6 million people have for so long been involuntarily crammed in Internally Displaced Persons’ (IDPs) Camps characterized by abject poverty, over-
crowding, weakened social fabric, very poor social service facilities, and often gender-based violence and systematic aberrational infractions of human rights. Both within and without the camps, many people are still afflicted by constant, continuous apathy and pervasive fear of unpredictable insecurity, violence and the “unknown”.
In spite of these peculiarities and complexities, and considering the crucial fact that the region was (for long) deprived of any institution of higher learning, Gulu University has progressed and expanded rapidly and more importantly become increasingly relevant to the region.
Faculties and Institutes
At the moment, Gulu University has 5 faculties and 2 institutes. The faculties are:
Agriculture and Environment (FAE)
Business and Development Studies (FBDS)
Education and Humanities (FEH)
Medicine (FOM), and
Peace and Strategic Studies (IPSS)
Research and Graduate Studies (IRGS). Faculty of Agriculture and Environment
The Faculty of Agriculture and Environment is offers two (2) programmes: Bachelor of Agriculture that takes three years, and Bachelor of Science in Biosystems. Engineering that takes four years.
Northern Uganda as a region has got vast fertile, well-drained, flat expanse of potentially agricultural land which is empty. Despite the effects of war, the people in this region have developed coping mechanisms to challenges it poses, which signify their resilience. Although the war reduced numbers of people, the critical mass needed to effect an agricultural revolution in the region is still available. The main constraint though, is that this manpower is NOT skilled which situation has been worsened by mass displacement of the population in the region.
Although the necessary basic conditions (land, labor, good climate etc.) for agricultural production are available, skilled labor, capital and technology are inadequate. There is therefore an urgent need to address the inadequacies in skilled labor and technology in the region. It is in that vein that the management of Gulu University strategically established a Faculty of Agriculture and Environment that would develop and offer programmes aimed at addressing development needs and gaps in the region.
The Faculty of Agriculture and Environment at Gulu University is based on four pillars of education: social conscience, environmental commitment, a business mentality and formation of human values. The teaching methodology of participatory learning which the university employs in training its students promotes the development of creative, critical, innovative and disciplined professionals who should be able to work as part of a team and who possess a strategic vision on sustainable development.
In addition to social, environmental and agricultural productivity concerns, the Faculty recognizes the importance of economic viability in its graduates’ initiatives.
The proposed “Students Supervised Enterprise Project (SSEP)” has been developed to provide new graduates with real life farming experiences. This will ensure “rational and productive use of graduates of agriculture.”The University-Farmer Extension Partnership Project is designed to help the University to exploit the value of effective knowledge transfer between the farmer and the scientists. This project helps the Faculty to identify itself with the community around it.The Faculty studies the problems of the communities around it and arrives at innovative solutions together with the farmer.
Bachelor of Agriculture is a professional degree in agriculture different from the Bachelor of Science in Agriculture which is being offered elsewhere in Uganda. The main distinguishing features of this programme are:
• Basic science courses have been reduced by about 20% compared to the Bachelor of Science in Agriculture programme
• Eighty percent (80%) of the courses are of an applied nature
• Management courses have been increased to 16% compared to the Bachelor of Science in Agriculture programme
• Environmental courses have been included to the level of 6%
• Hands-on experience has been increased up to sixteen weeks, distributed into two recess terms. In addition to this, the third year students are attached to selected farmers around the University for a whole year!
Faculty of Business and Development Studies
The Faculty of Business and Development Studies (FBDS) is driven by a purpose of becoming one of the world’s top-ranked business and development schools with a commitment to the development of business leaders and development workers who have a positive, deep and lasting impact on people, firms and society. To meet this goal, the faculty programmes promote rigorous research initiatives that target the community and global players at large.
FBDS offers a broad community based vision of the challenges and opportunities facing managers in today’s interconnected world. The FBDS experience is about more than acquiring skills and knowledge. It’s about becoming a more effective, inspiring and responsible leader. It’s about quality of service, community and personal growth.
It’s about placing priority on people, their wellbeing and their development.If profits are the only goal, then people just become the means to reach this goal. FBDS believes that leaders should place each person at the heart of their organizations to pave the way for successful and lasting firms.
The faculty has established strategic partnerships with various institutions some of which include University of Lubumbashi (DRC) – DeLPHE Project, United States International University in Nairobi – DeLPHE Project and Uganda Bureau of Statistics – EU Project (Capacity Building for Local Government)
In FBDS, members emphasize that companies are communities of people. As such, firms have a critical impact on the individuals who work in them and society at large.
For this reason, CEOs and senior managers have to be vested in developing the people around them, and building trust in personal and organizational relationships. Some of the programmes under the FBDS faculty include Bachelor of Public Administration, Bachelor of Development Studies, Bachelor of Science in Quantitative Economics, Bachelor of Science Economics, Master of Business Administration
Faculty of Medicine
When the Faculty of Medicine started in 2004, its survival was highly doubted. But now all the doubters have been proven wrong. The faculty along with other sister faculties at the University that blossoming and thriving are bent on making a significant change in the lives of the people and to change the face of the region in which the university is situated.
The Faculty of Medicine will contribute to peace, reconciliation and social development through its academic programmes and multi-disciplinary health systems research.
Though the faculty is remote from the centre of activity in the country, it has attracted friends, supporters, collaborators and sympathizers from around the globe. And the university is committed to developing, nurturing and strengthening the emerging ties between the university and its sympathizers or supporters so that it can stand strong and tall among the international community of health institutions of the 21st century.
The main academic programme at the faculty has been the Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBChB).
The MBChB programme is implemented using traditional medical education model.
Methods of instruction include compulsory lectures followed by practical work in preclinical years or clinical clerkships under supervision by clinicians in the various wards at Gulu Regional Referral Hospital (GRRH) or Lacor Hospital (LH), and fieldwork during the fourth year of instruction.
In an effort to respond to the looming crisis in psychosocial health in post-conflict northern Uganda, the FoM and the CCMPS have developed joint educational programs in psychosocial rehabilitation, counseling and reconciliation in northern Uganda. The programmes in question consist of short professional courses in counseling and reconciliation for community members as well as academic programmes at certificate, diploma and degree levels.
In 2008 the university started a master’s programmes in psychiatry and pharmacology in a bid to build human resource needed to address the rehabilitation needs of post war victims.
The university as well started A Master of Science in Medical Anthropology. The programme in medical anthropology will aim to produce a cadre of workers who will have the necessary skills Uganda needs to:
• Integrate traditional perspectives and approaches in health care and social services within formal government practice at community level
• Integrate basic research activities into applied research that will positively impact on the development needs of the rural communities
• Integrate qualitative research methods into quantitative research methodology in health and social services practice
• Help interpret government policies in the process of implementing government programmes at their respective work places.
The faculty has two campuses, one at Gulu Regional Referral Hospital (GRRH) and the other, at St Mary’s Hospital Lacor (LH). At each campus there is one computer laboratory with full internet connection.
There is one multi-purpose laboratory at the main faculty campus used by the departments of biochemistry, pathology and physiology; microbiology practical sessions are currently conducted at LH. The faculty plans to expand laboratory teaching facilities on all clinical wards to provide students with on job experience in the course of their clinical clerkships. Facilities for radio-imaging are currently under rehabilitation at GRRH and efforts are under way to plan for the establishment of a modern pathology department.
The faculty has entered into various research and academic partnerships with institutions in and outside Uganda.
Faculty of Science
Faculty of Science is one of the five (5) faculties of the University. It was created in September 2006 following the split of the former Faculty of Science Education into
Faculty of Science and Faculty of Education and Humanities.
The vision of the Faculty of Science is in tandem with that of the University–to play a leading role in post-war reconstruction and rehabilitation of the region through the provision of human resources in the areas of education, technology, research and other services. It is also in conformity with the Strategic Plan of the University aimed at producing high level human resource that can effectively participate in solving the social and economic problems of the country.
The Faculty has eight departments: Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Mathematics, Computer Science, Technological Education, Sports Science and Geography.
Some of the programmes offered in the faculty include Bachelor of Science Education (BSE), Bachelor of Science (Computer Science) (BSc.CS.), Bachelor of Information and Communication Technology (BICT), Ordinary Diploma in Computer Science (DCS), Bachelor of Science (Applied), Postgraduate Diploma in Environmental Statistics and Impact Assessment, Postgraduate Diploma in Computer ScienceInstitute of Peace and Strategic Studies
In 2003 the Centre for Conflict Management and Peace Studies (CCMPS) was opened under the Faculty of Business and Development Studies (FBDS). In late November 2005, an administrative executive decision was taken by the University’s top management, declaring the Centre a Directorate which should operate independently of the Faculty.
This marked a major transitional process towards the transformation and upgrading of the Centre into a fully-fledged Institute of Peace and Strategic Studies (IPSS). From the socio-political and economic perspectives, the establishment of Gulu University was issue-based and demand-driven to respond to the much needed highlevel education, research and to stimulate sustainable development in the war-ravaged region of northern Uganda.
Confronted with such enormous task, the University’s functional quality could only be realized and sustained by creating specialized academic centres to respond to particular issues from both the professional and practitioners’ perspectives.
Informed by this criterion, the University established the Centre for Conflict Management and Peace Studies (CCMPS) in 2003, which was elevated to the Institute of Peace and Strategic Studies (IPSS) in 2007. The Institute has become more efficient, effective and robust in the promotion of an inter-disciplinary, action oriented and community-centered approach in conflict prevention, management, resettlement, resolution, transformation and peace building for a harmonious and peaceful societal co-existence.
The Institute of Peace and Strategic Studies responds to the challenge by establishing itself as a focal point for intellectual inquiry and action-oriented research and community outreach programming activities in the fields of peace, conflict, strategic studies, development and humanitarian interventions, and any other discipline that bears relevance to the peace interests and needs of the community.
With commitment and interest in international, regional and national collaborative partnership and networking for peace work, IPSS is an open space and forum of training and experience of new methods and tools in peace work in order to create and reinforce new capacities of peace builders as genuine catalysts within their respective communities and societies.
For more information, please contact:
Director, Institute of Peace and Strategic Studies
Lead Researcher, Institute of Peace and Strategic Studies