A graduate of Yale and Harvard, and the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, Prof. David Sperling has been teaching in Kenyan universities since 1988, first at the University of Nairobi and since 2001 at Strathmore University where he also served as Deputy Vice Chancellor (Planning and Development) during the years 2003-06 when Strathmore was preparing to receive its University Charter. He is currently Research Professor in the Strathmore Institute of Public Policy and Governance.
Sperling has been a Visiting Fellow at the Institute for Social and Policy Studies, Yale University, and at the Harry Truman Institute, Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He is the founding Director of the Utawala Applied Research Institute which undertakes extensive fieldwork and data analysis in the Counties of Kenya, identifying development priorities and potential, and investment opportunities, including public-private partnerships. He is the Managing Trustee of the Rahimtulla Trust, the largest charitable family Trust in Kenya, and has been a member of the Regional (East Africa) Committee of the Aga Khan Foundation since 2006.
Prof. Sperling teaches courses on law and development in the Strathmore Law School and leadership, public policy and governance in the Institute of Public Policy and Governance of Strathmore University. He is a naturalized Kenya citizen.
- “Islamization in the Coastal Region of Kenya to the end of the Nineteenth Century”, in B.A. Ogot (ed), Kenya in the 19th Century (Hadith 8, Historical Association of Kenya), Nairobi, 1985
- “Survey of Islamic Manuscripts in Kenya” (with A.S. Nabhany and Y.A. Omar), in International Survey of Islamic Manuscripts, Vol. 2, E.J. Brill, Leiden, 1993
- “Rural Madrasas of the southern Kenya coast, 1971-1992”, in L. Brenner (ed), Muslim Identity and Social Change in sub-Saharan Africa, C. Hurst & Co., London, 1993
- “Survey of Islamic Manuscripts in the Comore Islands” (with A.S. Nabhany) in International Survey of Islamic Manuscripts, Vol. 3, E.J. Brill, Leiden, 1994
- “The Frontiers of Prophecy: healing, the cosmos and Islam on the East African coast in the 19th century”, in D. Anderson and D. Johnson (eds), Revealing Prophets, James Currey /Indiana University Press, London, 1995
- “Islam: Eastern Africa” in John Middleton (ed), Encyclopedia of Africa south of the Sahara, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1997
- “The Coastal Hinterland and Interior of East Africa” in N. Levtzion and R.L. Pouwels (eds) The History of Islam in Africa, Ohio University Press, Athens, 2000
- “Religion and Society” in D. Foeken, J. Hoorweg & R. Obudho (eds), The Kenya Coast: Problems and Perspectives, Litverlag, Hamburg, 2000
- "Politics and the Common Good" in L. Franceschi (ed), Politics and Ethics, Nairobi, Kenya, Law Society of Kenya, 2006
- “The Mijikenda and Islam” in Oxford University Islamic Studies Online (May 2012)
- Public Participation Handbook: Engaging the Public for Equitable Development (together with Michel Adjibodou), Cedia Africa Publishing, Nairobi, Kenya, 2015