TRANSFORMATIVE HISTORY EDUCATION IN CONFLICT-AFFECTED CONTEXTS

INITIATOR FUND 

This community later received Accelerator Funding for the project: Transformative History Education: Learning from Creative Practices in Cambodia, Colombia and Iraq

Project period: September – November 2017 

GW4 community leads

University of Bath: Lizzi Milligan, Peter Manning 
University of Bristol: Julia Paulson (PI) 
Cardiff University: Kate Moles 
University of Exeter: Catriona Pennell & Kelsey Shanks (now University of Ulster) 

Project overview

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. 

Website: transformativehistoryeducation.wordpress.com

Background 

From a social justice perspective, quality education can be conceptualised as transformative for individuals, communities and societies. However, in conflict-affected contexts, education is often a generator of conflict and something that itself needs to be transformed. 

Sustainable peacebuilding requires not just the cessation of direct violence, but also the transformation of conflict dynamics by addressing structural and cultural violence, 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. 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. 

Project summary 

Our initiator funding was very successful in building our international network, raising the profile of our work around transformative history education, and laying the groundwork for our research agenda. The community held a successful 2-day workshop on transformative history education, including representatives pioneering creative practice in Cambodia, Colombia, Lebanon and Uganda. Our collaboration has been successful both in terms of publications and research funding, and the community remain very active. 

Community site (GW4 Portal)