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Mr Anas Almassri delivering a talk in Gaza in 2018. Credit: Nada Flaifel, Me To You Initiative

The sixth United Nations International Day of Education will be celebrated on Wednesday 24 January, with a theme of ‘learning for lasting peace’. Our PhD student Anas N. Almassri is exploring how Palestinians receiving scholarships are using these educational opportunities to build everyday peace.

What is your research?

As a recipient of multiple scholarships myself, I find it fascinating to contemplate their impact. As a Palestinian from Gaza, I also find it compelling to explore whether and how this impact relates to peace. I believe there is still very much a gap in understanding the extent and mechanisms of the potential contribution of scholarships to peace. My doctoral project investigates just that: What gains do Palestinians make when undertaking funded graduate education abroad, and how these gains relate to peace in Palestine?

Who has been involved in your research? What case studies have you used?

32 Palestinian alumni and alumnae of various international postgraduate scholarships,  have participated in my study, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council through NINE DTP. These participants include seven graduates of five different departments at Durham University, six of them having received the Durham Palestine Educational Trust scholarship. Through interviews and pre-existing documents of their own, the participants have highlighted a range of positive outcomes of their education abroad. In my analysis now, I am identifying the ways and mechanisms through which these reported outcomes lend themselves as gains in the participants' capability of everyday peace. These gains refer to an increase in their ability to respond to conflicts in ways that promote civility, humanity, and positive progress rather than perpetuate or escalate conflicts in ways that extend their damaging impact, whether material, social, or epistemic.

How do you hope your research findings will help empower learners with the necessary knowledge, values, attitudes and skills and behaviours to become agents of peace in their communities?

I trust that the research will highlight key actions and mindsets that facilitate scholars' and, more broadly, international students', development of key capacities for everyday peace. I believe this will help expand knowledge and inspire students to be more intentional and creative in pursuing gains in their capability of everyday peace. I also hope this knowledge contribution will serve administrators of scholarship programmes in being more focused on enhancing progress towards the potential peace dividends of international higher education scholarships.

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