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Sustainable Peace Building

Final Report Summary - SPBUILD (Sustainable Peace Building)

The SPBuild Research-Training Project was created and developed by a solid and dynamic network of 10 institutions, with a proven commitment and capacity to deliver high-quality training in the rapidly developing field of Peace and Conflict research: University of Deusto, Ruhr-Universitaet Bochum, the University of Bradford, Centro de Estudos Sociais, Universitaet Graz, Sabanci University, the University of Ulster, Universiteit Utrecht, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven and Agencia Estatal Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas. These institutions have undertaken long-lasting joint research, published and jointly created a European Doctoral Enhancement Programme on Peace and Conflict Studies (EDEN).

The SPBuild project has aimed to provide high quality training and research on sustainable peace building, implying a good understanding of the cross-impacts of the necessary and interdependent peace building activities, especially the promotion of good governance, inclusive development and comprehensive security. By fostering the mobility of early stage researchers between European countries and to Europe from outside and promoting career development for researchers, academics and practitioners, the SPBuild project has contributed to the creation of an international trans-disciplinary critical mass of people specialised in sustainable peace building, in general, and, in particular, in the themes of comprehensive security, and to the development of a knowledge-based society.

With the support of the SPBuild Initial Training Network, 43 young researchers of 26 nationalities have been able to establish themselves as beginning researchers both nationally and internationally. With regard to the recruitment strategy, which has been based on the excellence of the application, the Consortium has always proceed bearing in mind the purpose of guarantying equal opportunities, including gender balance, and open competition. A great effort has been made to attract candidates and balance the origin and the home institution of applicants and selected researchers. The overall number of applications received via the project website (http://www.humanitariannet.deusto.es/SPBuild/) in the three calls was 98. From those, 51 applicants were EU nationals and 47 non EU nationals, while 50 were from researchers hosted in any of the institutions of the consortium and 37 from outside the consortium. From the 43 selected applicants, 22 were EU nationals and 21 non EU nationals, whereas 23 were researchers from a SPBuild network institution and 20 from other institutions.

Within the network, the issue of gender balance has been prominent at different levels. Equal consideration has been given to both men and women in terms of selection of students and at recruitment levels. From the 43 recruited researchers, 22 were women. Therefore, 51 percent of female recruited researchers has been reached. Moreover, gender balance has been maintained at staff level. Women’s participation not only in research but within the evaluation, consultation and implementation processes has built into this project. An equitable balance between men and women has been insured at the level of expertise, and also in the numbers of men and women involved in helping students at an academic and tutorial level. The gender issue has been transversal in all courses, seminars, conferences and projects and several universities connected with this proposal explicitly deal with gender issues in courses connected with Peace and Conflict Studies.

The SPBuild Programme has provided researchers with the unique opportunity to dedicate at least one full year writing their dissertations, benefiting from the great help of the feedback from supervisors, the friendly ambiance of the hosting institutions and the means that budget offered them to carry on fieldwork and to access to better bibliography. The programme allowed the researchers to improve their research and analytical skills, as well as their language skill in most of the cases, to publish several articles and, most of all, to move forward in their path towards obtaining their PhD. Upon their return to their home institutions, and regardless of the circumstance of being granted for just one year instead of the usual three in other programmes, nine researchers defended their thesis and accomplished their PhD, while several of them have been able to submit a full draft of their dissertation, to be defended in a couple of month’s time. The network is in regular contact with the researchers, in order to get feedback on their research and professional career track after their Marie Curie experience.

The workshops, conferences and training opportunities organised by the network have boosted the researchers’ career in important ways. Through these experiences, the researchers have been able to contact and establish stimulating and lasting collaborations with some of the most important researchers in the field. Researchers have been able to develop the skills needed for a successful research career, including publishing and presenting their research results, organizing academic events, applying for research funds and establishing new research networks. Besides, the SPBuild project has provided young professionals with the capacity of bringing the knowledge gained into European policy and civil society realms. These skills increase the European decision-making capabilities regarding successful crisis management responses and Europe’s role as a global actor.

The main socio-economic impact of the project has been to prepare young professionals in the field of Peace and Conflict Studies for the job market. This has been accomplished by promoting their integration into international networks and research communities and by supporting their curricula building. The integration in international networks, both European, such as EDEN, and beyond Europe, such as ISA (International Studies Association) or networks directly related to their fieldwork locations, such as CLACSO (Consejo Latinoamericano de Ciencias Sociales) or the Sri Lanka Conflict Roundtable, have provided them with professional flexibility regarding their methods of work and their professional languages as a result of their integration in different working environments. They have not only improved their professional capabilities across the European Union, but they also disseminated those capabilities beyond the European borders. Their curricula building has been achieved through teaching experience in different countries, peer-reviewed publishing, organizing scientific events (conferences, workshops, and Erasmus Intensive Programmes), participating in international conferences and setting up their own networks for collaboration in the area of sustainable peace building, increasing overall the visibility of their work and, consequently, making them strong competitive young professionals within the European Union and globally.

Peacebuilding is a challenging and complex dynamic process of change, involving different sectors, levels and actors. Professionals trained under the SPBuild project, who are able to make systematic analyses of complex political problems related to issues of conflict, war and peace, will draw up sustainable and feasible solutions for the needs identified in the field. The social impact of the SPBuild project will become most explicitly manifest in the ways by which young professionals from within the network are engaging with policy-makers and civil society. Concretely, this will transpire into their entrance into the job market as peace and conflict experts in NGOs, International Organizations, education, and research. An important aspect here is how through their participation in the professional field in Europe, SPBuild experts bring their international networks and fieldwork experience into the European arena. In a multipolar international society, such networks (stretching from Colombia, Mozambique, Uganda, Namibië, Timor-Leste, Sri Lanka, Brazil, Bolivia, Ukraine and Russia) are of key importance to build a more peaceful international environment.