Transformative history education in conflict-affected contexts


Project period: September – November 2017

GW4 community leads
University of Bath: Dr Lizzi Milligan, Dr Peter Manning
University of Bristol: Dr Julia Paulson
Cardiff University: Dr Kate Moles
University of Exeter: Dr Catriona Pennell

We address the GW4 grand challenge ‘social justice and inequality’ and the associated GCRF challenges ‘human rights, good governance and social justice’ and ‘equitable access to sustainable development’ by bringing together GW4 expertise in education, history and memory studies to develop new, interdisciplinary answers to pressing questions about how history education can contribute to meeting these challenges.

From a social justice perspective (Fraser, 2003; Tikly and Barrett, 2011), quality education can be conceptualised as transformative for individuals, communities and societies. However, in conflictaffected
contexts, education is often a generator of conflict and something that itself needs to be transformed (Davies, 2004; Novelli et al, 2015).

Sustainable peacebuilding requires not just the cessation of direct violence, but also the transformation of conflict dynamics by addressing
structural and cultural violence (Galtung, 1969), including the ways in which they are perpetuated in and through education. History education is often a space where such violence is perpetrated, for instance when it promotes exclusive group identities, silences particular groups, cultures and experiences, or legitimises conflict and injustice. For these reasons, curriculum revision is a regular part of post-conflict peacebuilding.

However, the evidence is mixed on the contributions this makes
to peace and social justice at individual and societal levels (Paulson, 2015). In part, this is due to a limited understanding of what a transformative history education might consist of.

Transformative history education would entail learning about past conflict in order to transform its legacies in the present and build peace into the future. To develop such an approach, we need to
understand how history education interacts with, informs and is informed by wider social processes of memory and reconciliation. This is an interdisciplinary challenge that cannot be addressed by educational researchers and policymakers alone, though most research to date comes from these perspectives. Our network brings together GW4 educationalists, historians and social scientists with expertise in conflict and social memory to develop conceptual thinking around transformative history education. The network also brings together international partners from four conflict affected contexts to share perspectives and lay the groundwork for future proposals to the GCRF.

Health inequalities in older people: a plan for action


Project period: August – October 2017

GW4 community leads
University of Bath: Dr Nikki Coghill and Dr Jessica Francombe-Webb
University of Bristol: Dr Demi Patsios
Cardiff University: Professor Shantini Paranjothy
University of Exeter: Professor Katrina Wyatt

Project overview

The focus of this project is to identify new approaches and ways of addressing inequalities in health among older people living in low income / economically disadvantaged communities. We propose to create a network of expertise (academic, professional, local) ready to respond to this grand challenge using innovative ‘bottom up’ participatory approaches including visual methodologies.

In England, those living in the poorest communities, on average, die seven years earlier. Determinants of deprivation include: accessibility to primary, secondary, community and preventative care and food. With an increasingly ageing population, older people living in deprived communities have reduced access to these services, compromising their health and social-care, often exacerbated in areas of conflict, political and social unrest.

Public Health and Primary Care often adopt top-down approaches, identifying behaviours or individuals as ‘problems’ and developing programmes to target the behaviours or individuals. This can result in programmes that widen rather than reduce inequalities. Our proposed sandpit supports an evidence-based, bottom-up, community engagement approach, supporting communities to identify barriers to their health and wellbeing.

Our expertise, the urban-rural disparity across GW4 and our global partners uniquely places us to address the ‘Health, demographic change and wellbeing’ grand challenge and contribute to the GW4 priority areas ‘Inclusive innovative and reflective societies, and ‘Social Justice, Inequality, local and global.’ We will work with research partners in Colombia and Namibia to develop transferable adaptive processes and approaches for these developing countries and the welfare of their older populations.

The funding, and resulting partnerships, will enable the development of participatory community-driven projects, well-placed to leverage future funding from e.g.: Leverhulme trust (Research Projects Grants), Nuffield foundation (Grants for Research and Innovation Projects) or NIHR (Public Research Programme) enabling the generation of evidence-based practice.


Transnational transformations in social protection: concepts, instruments and contexts


Project period: September 2017 – December 2018

GW4 community leads
University of Bath: Dr Rana Jawad
University of Bristol: Dr David Gordon
Cardiff University: Dr Rod Hick
University of Exeter: Dr Paul Cloke

Project overview

Our community aims to conduct world-leading research on social protection in both the Global North and South. We adopt the ILO’s definition of social protection as comprising income security across the life-course and in relation to specific contingencies, such as unemployment, and access to healthcare.

We will advance scholarship and policy learning by harnessing complementary strengths from across the GW4 institutions; and by identifying gaps in the academic literature, which has lagged behind developments in policy and practice over the past decade. Our community has clear relevance for GCRF funding streams and members of our community have been awarded funding under this scheme to-date.

Our aim is for the investment of the Accelerator award to lead to applications for funding totalling £750,000 within one year of the award. While the Accelerator funding is for six months, it is necessary to be selective about appropriate funding streams, and this may require a slightly longer time-frame, and being more flexible in response to particular calls as-and-when they arise.

An Accelerator award would provide a step-change for our community, and will leave a legacy of ongoing collaboration across the GW4 institutions in the area of social protection in the years to come.

Data Intensive Research


Project period: January 2017 – June 2017

GW4 community leads
University of Bath: Professor Jonathan Dawes, Professor Mike Tipping
University of Bristol: Professor William Browne, Professor Dave Cliff
Cardiff University: Professor Stephen Fairhurst, Dr Jonathan Gillard
University of Exeter: Professor Susan Banducci, Professor Richard Everson

Project overview

Developing capacity for research and development in data science is a major national priority. The clearest evidence for this was the announcement in the March 2014 UK Budget speech of £42M funding for the establishment of the national Alan Turing Institute (ATI). Despite none of GW4 universities becoming part of ATI, each has well-established research strengths in many aspects of data science and is in the process of establishing their own research institute in data science and related topics:

Bristol has recently set up the Jean Golding Institute for Data Intensive Research (led by Browne); Cardiff has set up the Data Innovation Research Institute (led by Fairhurst), Exeter is developing the Data Science Institute (led by Everson) and Bath has a slightly more established institute, the Bath Institute for Mathematical Innovation (led by Dawes with Tipping hired as a chair in data science).

Data intensive research underpins many aspects of digital innovation and the recent South West England and South East Wales Science and Innovation Audit (SIA) highlighted the strengths both within GW4 and the wider community in this area. With the SIA as a springboard we would like to build on this to increase region wide coordination, communication, and cooperation of data science researchers and practitioners.

Developing STEM education for marginalised groups in low-income communities


Project period: January 2017 – May 2017

GW4 community leads
University of Bath: Professor Catherine Montgomery
University of Bristol: Professor Justin Dillon
Cardiff University: Dr Jamie Lewis
University of Exeter: Dr Nasser Mansour

Project overview

The aim of this project is to build a research community that will share knowledge, expertise and resources in research and engagement with STEM education in low income countries, particularly for girls and women and indigenous or rural populations in developing countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and the Americas.

STEM education is seen as an opportunity to develop industrialising economies with improved access to employment for young people and graduates (Roberts, 2012). Advanced industrial countries have engaged in strong curriculum reform, adapting school practices to engage with problem solving, mathematics, and scientific thinking (Marginson et al, 2013).

However, issues of unequal access, approaches to pedagogy, limitations in resources and infrastructure mean that engagement with STEM education is a challenge in low income countries and ironically, this is where effective STEM education is most needed (Freeman et al, 2015).

Providing equal access to quality education is a global challenge. UNESCO has named improving quality education and reducing inequalities as two of its 17 sustainable development goals (UNESCO, 2016). In sub-Saharan Africa, secondary education is expanding rapidly and many disadvantaged rural communities have their first secondary school (e.g. Tanzania, Malawi).

These are often poor quality though with very few students progressing from lower to upper secondary. Sciences in particular are challenged for shortage of qualified teachers and lab equipment for upper secondary. Hence, secondary education is a bottle neck for science specialists who face challenges in moving into health professions and teaching.

The grant calls for GCRF have identified “inclusive and equitable quality education” as a priority theme. STEM education can enable science knowledge for the other 7 priority themes and this project addresses an intersection with the Sustainable Cities and Communities theme, presenting a community-focused approach to STEM education that develops capacity for scientifically informed responses to local development challenges (e.g. related to health, clean water supply, energy efficient cooking, small scale agriculture).

Remediating the Archive


Project period: July – November 2016

GW4 community leads
University of Bath: Dr Nina Parish
University of Bristol: Dr Leah Tether, Dr James Freeman
Cardiff University: Professor Anthony Mandal, Dr Jenny Kidd
University of Exeter: Professor Gabriella Giannachi, Gary Stringer

Project overview

‘Remediating the Network’ proposes to build a research community based in the intersection of two key areas of strength within GW4: archives/special collections and the digital humanities. GW4 Treasures identifies numerous collections of significant cultural and academic value spanning a range of fields, which this bid seeks to utilise and promote.

Critically, the proposed network approaches these holdings by way of the growing interdisciplinary work currently undertaken by digital humanists within GW4. There is clear evidence of both shared and complementary interests in archival research and digital humanities across the GW4 institutions, with around a hundred researchers already working on exciting and innovative projects.

We intend to create a platform to stimulate dissemination and collaboration across our four institutions, as well as drawing on existing links with other stakeholders, such a museums, libraries and the creative industries, in order to explore innovative ways in which the ‘remediated archive’ might be used for the greatest benefit.

New Paradigms of Social Protection: Policies, Impacts and Outcomes

Initiator Fund

Project period: February – May 2016

GW4 Community Leads
University of Bath: Rana Jawad
University of Bristol: Patricia Kennett
Cardiff University: Rod Hick

Project overview

This project aims to build an interdisciplinary GW4 community around the international and comparative study of social protection in regions of the world that are often left underexplored in academic research: the Middle East and North Africa, East and South East Asia, Latin America and Africa.

We will investigate countries with diverse levels of development and income, culture and institutional capacity and social protection strategies. The collaboration takes forward the theme of social protection as a new model of public policy among international donor agencies and governments across these regions. Focusing on social protection reopens long-standing gaps in knowledge and highlights dynamic policy changes not yet addressed by the literature.

Understanding social protection provision is significant not only to appreciate the social rights and standard of living enjoyed by different populations, but also to state building and stability.


URL: Understanding Religion and Law

Initiator and Accelerator Fund

Project period: September 2015 – January 2016, July 2016 – March 2017

GW4 community leads
University of Bath:
Dr Scott Thomas
University of Bristol: Professor Julian Rivers
Cardiff University: Professor Norman Doe
University of Exeter: Professor Robert Gleave

Project overview

The relationship between religion and law remains an under researched area, and yet it is at the forefront of policy issues in the UK and internationally.  Society and governments (through the law) have regularly sought to control and promote religious practices in the “public interest”.  Increased British religious diversity has given rise to fundamental questions about law and its role in society.  Furthermore, an increased awareness of religion and its role in the creation of international values and laws challenges the “secular” societies which aim to separate religion from the law.

Through the work of the project we aim to address the issues of who an inclusive, innovative and reflective society which recognises religious diversity might be further developed.  We believe this is central to an understanding of what British identity might mean, and how the diversity of British society might be recognised, and the mechanisms whereby a more cohesive society might be developed.

Our aims:

  1. To develop a detailed, interdisciplinary, research programme, using the insights of the first URL project (10/15-3/16) examining how British Muslims obtain religious and legal advice (fatwas) from traditional legal experts (muftis), and how this advice is used by those seeking advice in their religious and community life. The objective is to complete and submit this application by the community end date.
  2. To deepen the research relationships developed in the first URL project between GW4 researchers working in the area of religion and law such that additional collaborative projects might be explored, and a supportive peer-review process of Religion and Law projects is established. The objective is that four GW4 sandpit sessions will have been held where collaborative research projects and outputs in the area of religion and law will have been peer-reviewed by the expertise present in the GW4 institutions.

We have made 4 videos in conjunction with Lonewolf films:


Human Rights 



Reconceptualising Participation and Inclusion in Higher Education

Initiator Fund

Project period: September 2015 – January 2016

GW4 community leads
University of Bath:
Dr Andrea Abbas
University of Bristol: Dr Sue Timmis
Cardiff University: Professor David James
University of Exeter: Dr Deborah Osberg

Project overview

Our specific research focus is disadvantaged students and higher education (HE). The aim is to consolidate a network of researcher and practitioner capacity that will enable rigorous examination of the nature of participation in order to:

  1. Facilitate new, challenging questions about widening participation (WP) and HE.
  2. Create ‘new collaborative spaces’ for exploration and understanding.
  3. Identify potentially new approaches, which may in turn lead to a step-change in the way in which institutions frame their WP policies and procedures.

To address these objectives we have identified two potentially useful lenses:

  1. Integrating (WP) and inclusion research and practice.

Policy makers increasingly note the short comings of WP in focusing on access to university and ignoring the quality, nature, depth and comparative success of participation experienced by disadvantaged students. In contrast, the inclusion field focus on improving the learning experiences of students once they have accessed education. Inclusion debates and practices also tend to be narrow in that they focus on schools or disabled university students. Nevertheless they offer useful insights into particular aspects of learning experiences e.g. the role of technology in mediating participation.

  1. Expanding understandings of dimensions of disadvantage.

WP policy and practice is dominated by area-based proxy measures of low participation and by operationalisations of social class that are problematic as indictors of disadvantage. Other dimensions of disadvantage such as gender, age, ethnicity and disability are acknowledged in statistics but under-examined for impact. WP practitioners are increasingly aware of the need to address less well used indicators of disadvantage, such as ‘care leaver’. However, there has been little investigation into the ways that different forms of disadvantage intersect and interact.

We will exploit expertise within each institution to create new connections across GW4 and to develop a collaborative community focussed on expanding and strengthening research. We will bring together academics from education and other social science disciplines, undergraduate and postgraduate research students, and professional staff supporting WP and inclusion.

We will hold three full-day workshops. The overarching aim of the workshops are to highlight previous evidence and identify key problems and gaps, producing two briefing papers. We will also develop innovative research bids with regards to questions, approaches and methods. One major outcome will be a detailed multi-site research design that will form the core of future bidding for funds to conduct pilot work and wider empirical work.

Media and Criminal Justice Studies Network

Initiator and Accelerator Fund

Project period: September 2015 – January 2016, July 2016 – March 2017

GW4 community leads
University of Bath:
Dr Sarah Moore
University of Bristol: Dr Alex Clayton, Dr Eleanor Rycroft
Cardiff University: Dr Inaki Garcia-Blanco
University of Exeter:
Dr Sarah Cooper

Project overview

Cameras are gradually being allowed into courtrooms in England and Wales. This legislative change marks a historic shift in the meaning of public involvement in the courtroom, and the relationship between the judiciary and the media.

Our research community brings together academics from the social sciences, arts, and humanities to understand the production, distribution, and reception of as-live courtroom footage. From this we aim to identify how courtroom broadcasting might influence public confidence, trust, and knowledge about criminal justice.

Our aims are:

  • To consolidate and grow our research community through a set of research meetings and a full-day workshop
  • To develop a programme of research
  • To disseminate our research to a non-academic audience by holding a public engagement event
  • To prepare at least one grant proposal

Read the blog plost on ‘Cameras in the Courtroom’ Symposium.