Skip to main content


The Centre for Evidence and Social Innovation (CESI) is to partner with UNICEF, Yale, Harvard and New York University in leading a new global research network.


The network will be part of the international Early Childhood Peace Consortium (ECPC) hosted by UNICEF, New York and will seek to support the development and evaluation of early childhood development (ECD) programmes in societies affected by conflict. During its first phase, the network will support the development of programmes in Egypt, Kyrgyzstan, Mali, Tajikistan, Timor-Leste and Vietnam.

During the last week, Professor Paul Connolly, Dr Laura Dunne and Dr Sarah Miller from CESI and the School of Social Sciences, Education and Social Work (SSESW), met with colleagues from the partner organisations at the Edward Zigler Center in Child Development and Social Policy at Yale to discuss plans to establish the network. The newly formed ECPC Research Network will host its first major international symposium in Queen’s in May to launch its framework for action.

CESI has been working for over 10 years in partnership with Early Years - The Organisation for Young Children to develop and evaluate a major preschool programme to promote respect for diversity in Northern Ireland. The programme, the Media Initiative for Children, is now delivered across Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland and is currently being adapted for delivery in several other countries including Colombia, Israel, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Serbia and Tajikistan. The development of this programme was supported by The Atlantic Philanthropies who have also provided seed-funding to facilitate the establishment of this wider network.

Professor Connolly, Director of CESI, said: “we are absolutely delighted to be working with such prestigious global partners in developing this network. We are also extremely grateful for the generous and ongoing support of Atlantic Philanthropies in relation to this work. The network has ambitious plans to build research capacity in partner countries and to contribute to a robust international evidence base.”

“There is now growing evidence to indicate that ECD programmes have the potential not only to improve the wellbeing of young children and their carers, but also to drive positive change through families and local communities; providing the basis for sustainable development and the creation of inclusive and peaceable societies.”

Pictured outside the Edward Zigler Center (from left to right): Dr Tong Liu (Yale), Ghadeer Tarazi ( UNICEF), Dr Phuong Pham (Harvard), Professor James Leckman (Yale), Dr Teresa Betancourt (Harvard), Professor Paul Connolly (CESI and SSESW), Professor Walter Gilliam (Yale), Dr Laura Dunne (CESI and SSESW), Frierich Affolter (UNICEF), Dr Rima Salah (UNICEF and Yale), Nancy Fallon (Yale), Dr Sarah Miller (CESI and SSESW) and Chelsea Donaldson (UNICEF).