I am now Emeritus Professor of International Education in the Centre for International Education and Research (CIER) at the University of Birmingham, UK and also a Director of the social enterprise ConnectFutures (www.connectfutures.org). My major interests are in the linked areas of education and conflict, extremism, democracy, human rights and equity. After the book onEducation and Conflict (2004), I completed a book Educating Against Extremism (Trentham 2008) which looked at how education might prevent young people joining extremist groups – or conversely whether education does not protect against fundamentalism. From this I got involved in research on mentoring those at risk of radicalisation.
My 2014 book Unsafe Gods: Security, secularism and schooling examines the interface between religion, security and education, and argues for a new form of dynamic secularism to promote a complex, adaptive society. I’ve returned to complexity theory, finding it incredibly useful for understanding how security is threatened or can be strengthened. ( Publisher: IOE/Trentham, Jan 2014, ISBN 978-1-85856-525-5. It can be ordered at IOEpress and you can read a blog by clicking HERE). In 2014 I was awarded the Sir Brian Urquhart award for Distinguished Service to the United Nations and its goals by a UK citizen, which was a great honour. I continue to do work around post-conflict, and have just done a major review of Sri Lanka/s National Policy on Education for Peace and Social Cohesion – with which I have been involved for almost a decade. I’ve also been working with UNESCO on a manual for policy makers on Preventing Violent Extremism
My major practical activity now is with Connect Futures, where we are engaged in research, training and constancy in areas of extremism, exploitation and building trust in communities. We did some fascinating research interviewing former extremists and their families and have developed a video to be used in schools and communities. We’re doing interesting work with young people to enable them to speak their voice, and also mounting sessions between the police and young people to surface their views on policing, to build bridges. We have developed interactive on-line and face-to=face training on the UK government’s Prevent strategy, and are rolling this out to schools, probation services and local authorities.
- Workshops with young people across the West Midlands to speak their voice and give confidence for community participation, as well as workshops with the police and young people (see ConnectFutures.org for reports on these)
- Research on Education and political development in the Philippines, interviewing leaders of reforms about their educational background
- Preparing a review for the International Centre for Transitional Justice (ICTY) in New York on transitional justice approaches in education.
- Membership of the Board of Trustees of the Africa Educational Trust(AET), supporting their important work in Somalia, Uganda, Kenya, South Sudan and South Africa.
- Work on the Board for the Georg Arnhold Visiting Professorship at the Georg Eckert Institute for International Textbook Research; contributing a paper to their Symposium on Social Media as a Space for Peace Education (book out 2016).
Visits to Sri Lanka to conduct UNICEF funded major review of theNational Policy on Education for Peace and Social Cohesion