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Dr. Sheldon Gellar

April 12, 2017


Sheldon Gellar is a political scientist and Africanist scholar who has worked in a dozen African countries as an international development consultant with USAID, the UNDP, Club du Sahel and other donors over the past forty years. He has applied his skills as political scientist, institutional analyst, and development specialist to conduct assessments in a wide range of areas, — democratic governance, corruption, civil society, decentralization, natural resource management, agricultural policy implementation and participatory development strategies.

After completing a B.A. in literature at Rutgers University, he studied two years in France where he received  the Diplome (M.A) of the Institutd’Etudes Politiques(Paris) and a Certificatd’AptitudeenDéveloppement at the Institut de Rechcrche et de FormationenVue du DéveloppementHarmonisé run by Father Louis Lebret, founder of the Economics and Humanism movement and advisor to Pope John XXIII and Paul VI on development issues . He also has a Ph. D. in Comparative Government from Columbia University.

He is the author of  Senegal: An African Nation between Islam and the West and  Democracy in Senegal: Tocquevillian Analytics in Africa and  co-editor with Aurelian Craiutu of Conversations with Tocwquerville: The Global Democratic Revolution in the Twenty-First Century and written extensively on religion, politics, development, and natural resource management and Environmental issues..

He has taught at Indiana University, Michigan State University, Hebrew  University of Jerusalem, and Tel Aviv University and has been a research  associate at  Indiana University’s Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis, Princeton University, and the Truman Institute in Jerusalem.

As an international consultant, he has worked primarily in predominantly Muslim Sahelian countries—e.g. Senegal, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Chad, and Guinea and served as Democracy advisor to the USAID/Senegal mission (1998-1999).

Over the past decade, he has been focusing on relations between religion, politics and violent extremism/terrorism in Sahelian African countries and refugee issues.  Since 2013, he has participated in evaluations of USAID Peace through development programs designed to counter violent extremism, analyses of drivers of violence and the risk of violent extremism in Niger and other Sahelian countries, mentoring African researchers working on these issues, and recommending a more holistic and transnational approach to dealing with these issues than currently practiced by USAID and other international aid organizations.  

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