‘At the Margins of the University: Scholarship and practice of higher education transformation and disruption in contexts of post/conflict, inequality and oppression’

-20 September, 2019 hosted by Queen's University Belfast

At this event as part of the School of Social Sciences, Education & Social Work (SSESW)’s research focus on Peace in Societies, reflections on three intentional interventions (a roundtable; a cross-institutional academic development programme; a network) were presented by those concerned with social justice in and of the academy. Participants will learn about critical Higher Education Studies and the work being undertaken to address both contextual concerns in different international spaces, as well as contribute to their own insights and concerns.

Building solidarity through comparative experiences of post/conflict academia: Reflections on two days of dialogue – Tom Parkinson (University of Kent)

The scale of destruction and displacement caused by the Syrian crisis has been unprecedented in recent decades, as have the challenges faced by Syrian academics working within conflict areas or displaced, exiled or positioned in refugee contexts. At a two-day Cara Syria Programme (SP) event held in Istanbul on the 21st and 22nd June 2019 (see June 2019 RT), Syrian academics gathered together with counterparts from various international academic communities that continue to grapple with the challenges of sustaining their academic work and authority under conditions of crisis, exile, political oppression and post-conflict legacies.

The impetus and rationale for this dialogue emerged from meta-analysis of data conducted between 2017 and 2019 as part of the Cara SP. Ongoing data collection activities have sought to elicit the contextually contingent academic development needs of Syrian academics living in exile. While participants have called for support in aspects of teaching and learning, research design and literacy development, more affective and substratal complexities to being an academic in exile also emerged, and deserved dedicated space and attention.

Delegates engaged in round table discussions and working groups, and continued these dialogues informally over shared meals and social activities. In this presentation I reflect on the insights and support which were shared at the event, and the consciousness that was raised about the agency, limitations, complicity and intergenerational legacies that may be borne by academics and the academy in contexts of conflict, crisis and post-conflict development.

Conference proceedings: Belluigi D. and Parkinson T. (2020). ‘Building solidarity through comparative lived experiences of post/conflict: Reflections on two days of dialogue.’ Education and Conflict Review. Issue 3, pp.16-23.  https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10109100/1/Belluigi_Article02_Belluigi.pdf

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