Researchers at the University of Bath and the University of Bristol have been awarded a total of £3.4 million from UKRI’s Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) Collective Programme. The projects will explore how education and experiences of justice impact school learners’ attitudes and actions in countries of conflict.

This includes Dr Lizzi Milligan, Senior Lecturer in our Department of Education who is leading the £1.4 million project ‘Education as and for Environmental, Epistemic and Transitional justice to enable Sustainable Development’ (JustEd).

The JustEd project includes researchers from South America, Africa and Asia and will explore how secondary school learners' knowledge and experiences of justice impacts their attitudes and actions on climate, peace and institutions.

In addition, Dr Julia Paulson, Associate Professor in Education, Peace and Conflict at the University of Bristol has received a grant of £2 million to lead the 'Education, Justice and Memory Network' (EdJAM), as part of the Network plus initiative.

EdJAM is a collaborative international network of researchers, educators and civil society organisations working in the arts, education and heritage. The team, based in Cambodia, Colombia, Pakistan, Uganda and the UK, are committed to developing creative ways to teach and learn about the violent past.

Building on GW4 collaborations

Dr Milligan and Dr Paulson were both involved in the initial collaborative GW4 research project which catalysed this work. The GW4 funded project focused on transformative history education and worked with partners in Cambodia, Colombia and Iraq to explore creative practices that enable young people to learn about the violent past and contribute towards constructing a better future.

Dr Milligan explained: “We are delighted to receive this funding. JustEd builds on ideas generated from our GW4 collaboration, extending them through new exciting partnerships with colleagues in Nepal, Peru and Uganda. We look forward to investigating different types of justice in secondary schools in these countries. We hope the projects will benefit the school learners directly and our findings will also influence specific changes to educational curricula and to educational policy in order to support the rights of all learners and to promote environmental sustainability.”

Dr Julia Paulson added: “We are thrilled to receive funding for EdJAM. This project grows directly from the partnerships and knowledge developed in our GW4 funded Transformative History Education project. EdJAM will support our colleagues in Cambodia, Colombia, Pakistan and Uganda to develop new ways of stimulating dialogue about the violent past, such as traveling exhibitions, truth commission-school partnerships and mobile app learning. We are also delighted that EdJAM will be able to commission research around creative ways of teaching and learning about the violent past. It is an honour to be part of the network and I am so excited to learn from and share the work of all involved.”

Dr Jane Khawaja, GW4 Director, said: “It is fantastic to see a GW4 research community develop and secure external funding to further advance research knowledge and impact policy. To date the GW4 Alliance has invested over £2.9m in 93 collaborative research communities, which are addressing a range of global challenges and have generated over £46 million in research income.”

Challenging traditional conceptions of justice

The JustEd project, led by Dr Milligan, will examine three types of justice in education (environmental, epistemic and traditional) and how they relate to learners' intended actions on climate, peace, justice and institutions. By focusing on these forms of justice and the relationships between them, the research will extend and challenge traditional conceptions of justice in education.

The researchers will study secondary school learners in Western Nepal, Andean Peru and Northern Uganda. These global contexts all have recent experience with conflict, are directly reliant on the natural environment and subsistence agriculture, and are ethnically diverse societies with multiple linguistic communities.

Researchers will interview the school learners and organise arts-based focus groups to enable them to visually illustrate their experiences with environmental, epistemic and transitional justice. The project aims to achieve a broader impact on educational policy and practice through a series of targeted policy briefs and stakeholder impact events at both the regional and international level.