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Georg Arnhold International Summer Conference: Education, War & Peace

June 10 - June 13

UNDERSTANDING INTERNATIONAL ASSISTANCE AND INTERVENTION IN CONFLICT-AFFECTED CONTEXTS

Georg Arnhold International Summer Conference (GAISC)
June 10 to 13, 2024 in Braunschweig, Germany

This summer conference seeks to provide a forum for critical reflection on the relationship between education, conflict, war and peace and the global actors and practitioners that have devised strategies to engage, support and intervene in education systems in conflict-affected contexts.

Since the late 1990s, a field of research and practice has emerged within International Development, now commonly known as ‘Education in Emergencies’, which explores and acts upon the relationship between education and situations of crisis and conflict. Whilst the field has its foundational roots in post-WWII refugee education, it has expanded its remit and geographical focus since the 1990s, following the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War. Driven by United Nations agencies and international policy actors’ needs on the ground, the initial catalyst to this expansion was a realisation that half the world’s out-of-school children lived in conflict-affected contexts. This led to a flourishing of activity in both research and practice as the complex relationship between education and violent conflict rose up the global policy agenda. Over the last decades the field of Education in Emergencies has been shaped by broader geopolitics and international relations, including the fallout from the end of the Cold War, 9/11 and the War on Terror, the invasions and occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, wars in Syria and Yemen, instability and conflict in Libya and the Sahel region, and the unresolved conflict – recently escalated into unspeakably violent warfare – in Palestine/Israel. The Russian invasion of Ukraine has added a new/old superpower rivalry between Russia and the West into the geopolitical mix. As with the broader field of International Development, all of the above events seem underpinned by the legacies of colonialism as well as ongoing tensions and inequalities between the global North and South.

While education systems and actors are often presented as victims of conflict, research in this field has evidenced the way education can also be a catalyst to conflict: driving inequality, promoting prejudice, increasing exclusion and alienation. It can of course also do the opposite and promote peace, wellbeing, social justice and inclusion. How do international actors engage with these processes? What are the different factors that propel intervention and assistance in education systems in conflict-affected contexts, and how are these shaped by broader geopolitical interests? How do the legacies of colonialism inform both geographies and practices of intervention? Why are some contexts and geographies prioritised while others ignored? How can education interventions be assessed in terms of nature, volume and effect? How have these changed and been shaped over the last decades? And what role do educational media such as textbooks and digital materials play in these complex processes? What can we learn from the Cold War period and education assistance to conflict contexts about the ways in which current superpower rivalries might impact our field of research and practice?

This year’s conference will reflect on how international relations and the broader geopolitics of intervention link to the education sectors in conflict-affected contexts and on the implications for building sustainable peace and social and ecological justice. The Georg Arnhold Program on Education for Sustainable Peace invites submission of original contributions that engage with the politics of educational assistance to conflict-affected contexts: past, present and future. Abstracts can speak to – without being limited by – the following considerations:

  • What are the roles of different international actors in delivering education in conflict-affected contexts?
  • What are the geopolitical factors that influence educational interventions, resources and outcomes in different conflict-affected contexts?
  • What empirical evidence do we have of the drivers of educational assistance to conflict-affected contexts by international agencies?
  • What is the nature of the global governance of Education in Emergencies, and how is it influenced by powerful actors?
  • What are the theoretical tools and concepts that can help us better understand the role of international actors in in the education sectors in conflict-affected contexts?
  • How do educational media inform, exacerbate, relieve and/or respond to these processes. What is the significance of their design, production, political ownership, reception, and classroom implementation in conflict-affected contexts?
  • How do the legacies of colonialism shape present practices in the field of Education in Emergencies?
  • How is current superpower rivalry between the West, Russia and China affecting international assistance to conflict-affected contexts?
  • What roles are non-traditional donor nations playing in supporting education systems in conflict-affected contexts (e.g. UAE, Qatar, Jordan, Turkey)?
  • What are the roles and interests of private sector corporations in the field of Education in Emergencies?

Applicants are requested to explain how their proposal addresses the theme of the summer conference as outlined above, and where possible/relevant some of the above questions.

The four-day long Summer Conference will bring together early-career scholars, senior researchers, and practitioners from around the world. It will provide an interdisciplinary and international forum that will allow participants to debate and critically reflect upon these key issues, strengthen research connections, and support critical reflection to inform future research and practice.

Learn more and apply here!

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