Methodologies for researching with the most disadvantaged in situations of conflict

BERA and the Centre for Shared Education hosted a seminar on 12 May on research with disadvantaged groups in conflict settings. The event considered the range of methodological concerns and ethical issues encountered by researchers and enabled participants to share their own perspectives and experiences. The discussions aimed to identify examples of effective practice in doing research of this nature.

Dr Zvi Bekerman from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem gave his reflections on identity, conflicting narratives & reconciliation through education in Israel; Dr Siobhán McAlister from Queen’s University Belfast spoke about her experiences of doing critical social research and researching youth marginalisation and young people’s experiences with/ of ‘paramilitary style groups’ in Northern Ireland; and Dr John McMullen(Stranmillis University College) and Dr Paul O’Callaghan (Education Authority NI) gave a presentation on conducting interventions to build resilience with war-affected children, including former child soldiers, and their families in Uganda and DR Congo. 

Top of Page

Centre for Shared Education announces EdD Scholarships (2016 entry)

The Centre for Shared Education at Queen’s University Belfast is offering bursaries of £2000 each to five students taking up a part-time or full-time place on the EdD course in the academic year 2016/17. The application criteria are outlined below. Please address queries to Prof. Joanne Hughes and Dr. Caitlin Donnelly


  • The award is open to those applying for the EdD Programme and who are new applicants for entrance to the programme in 2016/17.[1]
  • Applicants should meet the EdD programme entry requirements:
    • A 2.2 Honours degree or above or equivalent qualification acceptable to the University and a Masters degree or equivalent qualification acceptable to the University. Performance profiles (grades etc) may also be required to ensure suitability of the applicant for Doctoral study.
    • Applicants will normally be expected to have at least five years' full-time professional experience in a field of work related to Education.
  • Applications must be received by 4pm on 1 August 2016.
  • To apply please follow the instructions relating to the application portal.
  • The successful applicant will be informed by the School by Friday 26 August 2016.


On the EdD online Application Form you will be asked to submit 500 words on your professional experience and potential area of research.  Please indicate that you wish to apply for a CSE bursary and detail how your potential research contributes to the mission of the Centre for Shared Education. This can be primary or secondary research and can be empirically, theoretically or policy orientated. There is no need to produce a detailed research proposal but you should indicate: the focus and purpose of the research (i.e. your research question); how the research would be carried out and the contribution to knowledge in the area of Shared Education.

Assessment criteria

All applications will be scored on the following criteria:

  • Originality – the research idea represents independent thinking, a novel approach to an issue and a contribution to knowledge;
  • Methodological rigor – the proposed methods and research design are robust and appropriate for answering the research question;
  • Feasibility – the research plan is manageable within the timeframe and appropriate to doctoral level study;
  • Impact – the policy or practice relevance of the research and/or how it will add to understanding.

Award: the award of £2000 will be discounted from the successful applicants’ fees.

[1] This cannot be used in conjunction with any other University scholarships or discounts. This bursary is only open to self-funding students.

Top of Page

Professor Joanne Hughes presents at Institute of Education, London

Professor Joanne Hughes presented  a seminar on Shared Education at the Institute of Education in London. Her talk focused on the shared education model and research evidence relating to its effectiveness in promoting more positive social attitudes and reducing prejudice. The event was well-attended by colleagues in the Centre for Learning and Leadership in the IoE and the discussion focused on the factors that enable and inhibit shared education in situations of conflict and inter-group division and also the potential of the model in the English context, where schools are becoming increasingly fragmented.

Top of Page

Collaboration and impact activities in the USA

Tony Gallagher, Gavin Duffy and Gareth Robinson from the Centre for Shared Education attended the AERA (American Educational Research Association) conference in Washington DC in April.  While there they were invited to a reception in the Irish Embassy to celebrate the work of Corrymeela and briefed officials in the United States Institute of Peace on their work on shared life/shared education in Israel.

They also held meetings with colleagues from Loyola Marymount University (LMU), Los Angeles.  Tony Gallagher and Gavin Duffy have been working with LMU for several years on shared education initiatives involving traditional public and charter schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District.

Top of Page

Centre hosts principals and education officials from East and West Jerusalem

Prof Tony Gallagher and Dr Gavin Duffy have been working with colleagues in Israel to support shared life/shared education initiatives involving cooperation between Jewish and Arab schools for the past four years. During a 2014 visit to Israel, Tony was invited to give a presentation on shared education to the Minister of Education and his officials.  In a later visit, in 2015, he was invited to meet with the Director of Education in Jerusalem.  

As a consequence of this, a delegation of 35 school principals and education officials from East and West Jerusalem visited Northern Ireland in April this year.  They visited schools in Derry/Londonderry, Ballycastle and Cookstown to see shared education work in practice, and met with officials from the Department of Education, the Education Authority, sectoral bodies and schools to discuss practice and policy issues related to shared education.

There is every hope that some schools in Jerusalem will adopt the curriculum-focused approach to shared education already being implemented in other parts of Israel.

Top of Page

Imagine Festival of Ideas and Politics: Debate on Citizenship Education and Young People’s Participation

During the Imagine Festival (14-20 March), Ulster University and Concern hosted an event chaired by Cathy Gormley-Heenan to debate the motion “Global citizenship education is a distraction: we should focus on the local context to promote young people’s future political engagement”. Each team included an academic, a post-primary teacher and a pupil. Jackie Reilly (Ulster University), Stephen Jenkins, and Orlaith Feenan (Dominican College) spoke for the proposition and Michael Arlow (Centre for Shared Education), Fiona Smyth and Jamie Nicholson (Lisnagarvey High School) for the opposition. The young people made particularly impressive speeches and were complimented by the Chair for their debating skills which, she commented, were far superior to those of their elders. Following the speeches and exchanges with the floor, Sean Farren, Johnny McCarthy, Alan McCully and Paul Smyth shared their thoughts on some of the key issues raised. When the motion was put to a vote it was defeated.

Top of Page

Appointment to NICIE Board

The Department of Education has announced that Michael Arlow (Centre for Shared Education) is to be one of four new members appointed to the Board of the Northern Ireland Council for Integrated Education Board of Directors. The appointment is for four years. The other new members are Mrs Maeve Marnell, Mrs Denise McIlwaine and Dr Anne Marie Telford.

Top of Page

Presentations at British Psychological Society – Northern Ireland Branch conference

The 60th Anniversary Annual Conference of the British Psychological Society Northern Ireland Branch took place on 3-5 March 2016 in Dundalk.  Stephanie Burns from the Centre for Shared Education (CSE) presented a paper entitled ‘Children’s understandings of “respect for diversity”’ in the symposium entitled Researching trust, empathy and respect in Northern Ireland.  Deborah Kinghan, a PhD student from the School of Psychology who is jointly supervised by Joanne Hughes (CSE), presented her research, entitled ‘Applying theory-based interventions to encourage successful intergroup contact through the Shared Education Programme in Northern Ireland’ in the symposium Northern Ireland: The Promotion and Process of Change.

Top of Page

BERA poverty and attainment nexus event

The BERA Research Commission series on Poverty and Policy Advocacy aims to improve the life chances of children and youth living in poverty through seminars that provide spaces for academics, teachers and policy makers across the four jurisdictions of the UK to engage in knowledge building about poverty and cumulative multiple deprivations, as these find expression in education and schooling.  On Thursday 10 March the third event in the series was held at Queen’s University Belfast, convened and chaired by Professor Ruth Leitch (back row, left) from our Centre for Shared Education.  This event highlighted child poverty and education concerns for Northern Ireland. The primary focus was the relationship between schools and communities, with the aims of:

  • illustrating education and community patterns in Northern Ireland (NI) and discussing the implications of these for understanding the impact of child poverty;
  • examining how notions of capital impact differently in working and middle class communities and how less desirable outcomes such as restrictions on individual freedoms and a downward leveling of social norms can create a low attainment nexus;
  • exploring schools’ levels of engagement, accessibility, and innovation in terms of raising attainment levels amongst children and young people in low income areas;
  • discussing policy/practice interventions that have been shown to improve children’s educational engagement, attainment and life chances in NI and contrast these with examples of innovation from the other three UK jurisdictions.

During the event, Professor Tony Gallagher welcomed delegates to Queen’s and presented a perspective on education, schools and the community.  School of Education colleagues Ruth Leitch (back row, left) and Joanne Hughes (back row, second right), with Erik Cownie (Ulster University), presented on the ‘Investigating Links in Achievement and Deprivation’ research project.  Stephanie Burns and Gerry McMahon (Project Manager, Full Service Community Network) jointly presented on the impact and practice of full service extending schooling models in Northern Ireland. 

Top of Page

South London Simulation Network inaugural conference

On 26 February Professor Joanne Hughes and Michael Arlow presented a keynote at the South London Simulation Network inaugural conference, “Harmonised Concepts; what if? We connect, we share and we learn... A simulation collaboration conference for the SLSN.” The conference, hosted at the Kia Oval in London, was for health professionals involved in simulation-based training and course design for simulation-based education interventions to improve care quality and safety. The keynote focussed on the use of simulation activities in situations of inter-group contact primarily in Northern Ireland.

Top of Page

Visiting Scholar - Juliette Fischer

Juliette Fischer is a visiting research associate with the Centre for Shared Education, and will be at the School of Education until June 2016.  Juliette is currently completing a Master’s degree in international relations at Sciences PO, Grenoble, France.  Juliette describes her research interests and the aims for her internship:

‘My research interests are quite broad considering that my bachelor dissertation was about how cartography could be considered as a political tool with a specific focus on the war in Syria.  At the moment, I am involved in the Shared Education Signature Project Research Study – funded by Atlantic Philanthropies - and I am assisting other researchers from the Centre for Shared Education in the design and implementation of the research study.  My current research interests are thus focused on the role of education when it comes to building peace and shared education, in particular, as a means for reconciliation (in Northern Ireland).  My master’s thesis focuses on that topic and tries to explore how teachers and pupils deal with difference in shared classrooms.  To do so, methods like focus groups, interviews, classroom observations and tailored creative group interviews will be used with a wide range of participants.’

To contact Juliette about her research, please email her at

Top of Page

Visiting Scholar - Carolyn Geraci

Carolyn Geraci is a Fulbright Teaching Award Holder from Texas, USA, and will be at the School of Education until June 2016.  Carolyn describes her aims for the period of time she’s spending with us:

For my Fulbright project I am researching school-wide and in-classroom strategies and techniques that are used to promote unity.  The goal of this project is to explore the effectiveness of schools in Northern Ireland in dispelling discrimination and hostile environments.  In our schools in Houston, Texas, we have serious problems with discrimination in our student population.  I hope to find new ways to address these issues.  Two personal projects are also on the agenda.  As an English teacher, I am always interested in techniques others use for teaching grammar and composition.  My colleagues and I use writing workshops in our classrooms.  I’d like to be able to take back a few different ideas to add to our toolboxes.  Also, testing has become a contentious topic in Texas.  I would like to compare perceptions about test preparation.'

To contact Carolyn about her research, please email her at

Top of Page

CSE input to the Imagine Festival of Ideas and Politics

The Imagine Festival of Ideas and Politics is taking place in Belfast from 14-20 March 2016 and aims to promote debate on key issues in Northern Ireland today. Michael Arlow from the Centre for Shared Education will be participating in a panel debate on Citizenship, Education and Young People’s Political Participation, which is taking place at the Ulster University Campus on York Street on 14 March from 4-5.30pm. Other events that may be of interest to educational professionals and to School of Education staff, students and visitors include:

  • Are Schools Failing Our Kids?’ -  a symposium which aims to explore issues including bullying, looked after children, and underachievement
  • Modern Perspectives: What the 21st Century Classroom Should Look Like’ – an open discussion evening to explore the issues, challenges and solutions in providing effective education
  • ‘On Irishness’ – a discussion about perceptions of Irishness and the different ways in which people identify with Irishness 
  • Visualising Conflict in Palestine – an informal discussion facilitated by Dr Brendan Browne (Trinity College Dublin) and Dr Julie Norman (Queen’s University Belfast) about the role of photography in communicating stories of daily life in conflict zones
  • Big Data, Bigger Potential’ – a discussion and debate on the issue of ‘Big Data’ and the potential that it has to inform research and impact positively on society 

To view the full programme please see


Top of Page

Centre for Shared Education provides oral evidence on Shared Education to the Education Committee

In November the Shared Education Bill was formally introduced to the Northern Ireland Assembly. To better inform the Committee for Education as they reviewed the Bill, the Centre for Shared Education was asked to provide written feedback on the contents of the Bill. Additionally, on 25 November Professor Joanne Hughes, Dr Danielle Blaylock and Michael Arlow provided oral evidence to the Education Committee. Feedback provided by the Centre has since informed the Committee’s most recent report which will be debated at a future Plenary session. The Centre for Shared Education is proud to contribute to this very important area of work.

Top of Page

CSE present at the Centre for International Education in the University of Sussex

On 6 January Professor Joanne Hughes and Dr Danielle Blaylock were invited to the Centre for International Education at the University of Sussex to present the broad body of research the Centre has completed to date exploring the impact of shared education. The presentation was followed by a lively discussion amongst members of both centres about the role of education in divided societies to promote social cohesion. It is anticipated that future collaborations between the Centre for Shared Education and the Centre for International Education will investigate cross-group friendship networks in divided societies such as South Africa and Rwanda and explore the potential for shared education in South Africa.

Top of Page

Centre for Shared Education members collaborate with colleagues in Cyprus on shared education

On 16 January, members of the Centre for Shared Education attended a conference, “Developing Peace Culture – the role of education” in the UN Buffer Zone, Nicosia, Cyprus. The conference, attended by representatives of Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot teaching unions, was described as the first bicommunal education conference. It was supported by the European Trade Union Committee for Education (ETUCE) and the European Parliament Information Office in Cyprus. Christine Blower, General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers and President of the ETUCE was the keynote speaker. Professor Joanne Hughes and Michael Arlow presented proposals for collaborative work on shared education in Cyprus involving the development of partnerships between Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot schools, joint teacher development activities and a programme of research.

The conference received largely positive feedback in online media outlets; to read these reports please see the links below:



Top of Page

Spirit of 95

On 7th December Professor Joanne Hughes presented a keynote on shared education at the ‘Spirit of 95’ event in the Great Hall at Queen’s University. The event was organized by the Global Institute for the Study of Conflict Transformation and Social Justice as a 20 year anniversary marker of President Bill Clinton’s visit to Belfast in December 1995. The aim was to examine the lessons and legacies of the Clinton visit and speakers included Ambassador Kathleen Stephens, US Consul General, Daniel Lawton, local academics and young people. There was also a video message from President Bill Clinton. 

Top of Page

PhD DEL Studentship Award 2016 entry

The Faith School Debate

Separate schools for different ethno-religious groups have been linked to hostile inter-ethnic relations and violence. At the same time some democratic jurisdictions see increasingly homogenized education systems as a legitimate response to ethno-cultural plurality, and the imperative to protect the rights of minority ethnic groups. The proposed project seeks to examine this tension through empirical research in faith schools located in the UK and/or other jurisdictions.  Drawing on identity and positioning theory, and located in discourses on multi-culturalism, political philosophy and education policy, the aim is to explore how well faith schools prepare pupils for life in modern democracies. The following are indicative questions: How do the faith perspectives embraced by schools inform the interpretation and delivery of  curriculum subjects relating to national, religious and political  identity (eg history, politics, citizenship and religious education); How is school ethos manifest, negotiated and communicated in faith schools and how do these processes shape understanding of self and others? How are inconsistencies relating to formal curriculum requirements and faith perspectives dealt with in faith schools, and what are the implications for perceptions of own and other groups. It is anticipated that this research will be undertaken within a qualitative methodological framework using methods best adapted to exploring inter-subjective meaning-making.

In designing the proposal, it is important to take account of the following: the current policy context for faith schools; related theoretical and conceptual literatures; previous empirical studies relating to the role of education in divided and plural contexts. The research methodology section should outline a clear rationale for the methods selected.  Your research proposal should not be more than 2000 words (maximum) in length (excluding references).

Proposals must include references to academic literature and provide evidence of academic reading within the research field including a paragraph on any ethical issues that are likely to arise in the course of the research.  All applicants must contact the relevant named project director prior to submitting their application and proposal.

Contact: Professor Joanne Hughes (tel. +44 (0)28 9097 5934 ) for further information about the project.

Visit the School of Education's Doctoral Research Centre webpages for more information on how to apply and funding opportunities.

Top of Page