A joint education research project between Ulster, Sussex, Cape Town and Nazarbayev Universities, held an end-of-project meeting at Ulster University last week.  

The Political Economy of Education Research Network (PEER Network) hosted the event at Coleraine Campus to reflect on the achievements of the three-year project, and to discuss research outputs delivered by a network of early career researchers, who were supported by the project to conduct their research. 

The £1.6 million GCRF funded network-plus project was designed to promote the use of locally grounded political economy analysis within education research, thus leading to more socially just outcomes in education.

Political Economy analysis seeks to understand the political, economic and cultural processes that impact societies and education systems and processes.

During their time in Northern Ireland, the group attended a political history tour of Belfast. The history of sectarianism during The Troubles resonated with the PEER team members, many of whom come from countries impacted by conflict.

Man giving a speech in front of wall mural in Northern Ireland

The project supported fellows in countries affected by conflict and crisis. It consisted of two main research hubs, one being in Central Asia, and the other in South Africa. Both hubs supported researchers in their regions. A total of 26 research fellows conducted research spanning their respective continents.

The research undertaken by the PEER fellows covered a broad range of topics affecting learning and education, including the impact of colonialism on indigenous African communities, and the health implications of nuclear testing on a forgotten generation in Kazakhstan.

Co- Principal Investigator, Kelsey Shanks, Professor of Education in Conflict and Crisis at Ulster University said the Ulster event was invaluable in truly recognising what had been achieved during the project. 

Professor Shanks explained: “Having everyone together really hit home how far the project has come and the challenges we have overcome over the last two years.

“We have built a global network of incredible researchers and I can’t wait to see where they all go from here.”

Upon discussing the impact of the event, team members expressed great enthusiasm for future collaboration.

The PEER team are now planning an end of project online event, to reflect upon the last two years of collaboration and future opportunities to work together.

Follow the PEER Network social media for further details.