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Sustainability from Below: Exploring the importance of tackling legacies of past violence

Project Topic Overview

Much is being made of the fact that those most affected by climate change and related sustainability challenges are those who have done least to cause those challenges. This offers good moral and pragmatic grounds for interventions that prioritise the most impacted, most visible in calls for a “Loss and Damage Fund” at the recent COP26. The insight that those who have the greatest need nearly always have the smallest voice when determining matters that concern them maps across onto all other dimensions of the sustainable development agenda. The related insight that for those already impacted by a particular issue to move forward, attention needs to be given to how those impacts came about in the past, has yet to be seen as cross-cutting: Interventions for vulnerable populations, whether about health, education, employment, inequalities or peace, justice and strong institutions, tend to be conceptualised and implemented in a ‘top down’ and largely ahistorical manner. While ‘bottom-up development’ exists as an idea, the idea of generating ‘sustainability from below’ through tackling harms that came from above, requires much more urgent attention and operationalisation. This project will adopt a transdisciplinary lens to explore and map out some of the critical factors that detract from or enhance vulnerable populations’ direct engagement with sustainability, with a particular focus on identifying how failures to tackle legacies of past harms contributes to a lack of capacity to engage in future sustainability. Through its work with urban refugee populations in east Africa, it will provide an evidence base on which to build guidance on how to support these and other at risk populations to themselves be at the centre of such interventions, and thereby consolidate the principle and practice of sustainability from below.

Applicant Profile

Standard requirement for all projects: A good first degree (2:1 above or equivalent), a postgraduate degree/ or equivalent professional or research experience.

The scholarship is offered to applicants with outstanding academic profiles and research proposals. It normally includes UK fees and stipends.

Applicants are required to develop their own research proposals under this thematic topic. Please get in touch with the supervision team before submitting an application.

An ideal candidate would be an early career researcher with a masters qualification, preferably in anthropology or psychology or development studies, combined with substantial work experience with refugees in east Africa, as well as an awareness of the disconnect between global policy making and people's lived realities on the ground. The applicant should have strong interpersonal skills and a demonstrated commitment to inter-disciplinary thinking as well as an understanding of gender issues and intersectionality.

Supervisory Team

Professor Chris Dolan, Global Sustainable Development

Professor Dolan is a Professor in Global Sustainable Development in the School for Cross-faculty Studies at the University of Warwick. Professor Dolan's research focusses on forced displacement, conflict, sexual violence and gender, as well as data and research methodology.