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08 Jul 2024

Special issue: call for papers - Conflict, Peace and Teaching in Higher Education

Teaching in Higher Education
The blog of the journal

Special issue: call for papers

Special issue editors: Kevin Kester and Greg William Misiaszek

Conflict permeates every aspect of contemporary life. Higher education is no exception. From ongoing armed conflicts in Afghanistan, Israel/Palestine, Myanmar, Ukraine, and Yemen to the intractable conflicts of Cyprus, the Horn of Africa, Korean peninsula, and the Taiwan Strait, university educators increasingly find themselves drawn into the conflicts (Kester et al., 2022; Millican, 2017; Milton, 2018; Oleksiyenko & Terepyshchyi, 2023). In some cases, educators are targets, displaced or killed, and in other instances they are caught within the heightened securitization and militarization of campuses (Novelli, 2010; Özdemir, Mutluer & Özyürek, 2019). As we write this Call for Papers, universities in the United States and elsewhere across the globe are witnessing a rise in student movements calling for peace in the Middle East and justice for Palestine. In response, police and military have been sent in to establish order on campuses that most frequently intensify conflicts into violent situations. This follows on years of surveillance and censorship to ban so-called controversial topics from university classrooms, such as discussions of coloniality (including occupation, apartheid, annexation, and land theft), critical race/ethnic studies, human rights violations, gender equity, and peacebuilding, among other issues (Danvers, 2023; Ray & Gibbons, 2021; Tutkal, 2023).

The international community, at the same time, has called for increased efforts to ensure access to safe, quality education at all levels. An emphasis is placed on conflict-affected settings in particular, as conflict zones pose the greatest barrier to achieving the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) (Howe, 2019; UNESCO, 2011), yet higher education peacebuilding is not limited to contexts facing direct armed conflict. Indeed, politics and pedagogies from one setting (e.g., the Global North) are often implicated in conflicts taking place elsewhere (e.g., the Global South) (Novelli & Kutan, 2023). Moreover, in our globalizing world, dominant Northern epistemologies taught as the singular only “correct” way of knowing can also be hidden within international peace and peace education efforts, including the education SDGs (Dale, 2018; Klees, 2017; Misiaszek, 2022a). In university classrooms internationally, critically problematizing how teaching might epistemologically widen or narrow alternative ways of knowing and being is essential for supporting students’ praxis rooted in global peace, issues that are inseparably connected to justice and planetary sustainability (Assié-Lumumba, 2017; Misiaszek, 2022b; Takayama, Sriprakash, & Connell, 2017). This leads to uncomfortable yet essential questions on how higher education teaching might also, opposingly, lead to justifying various forms of violence, injustice, and planetary unsustainability.

The complex (dis)connections between conflict, peace, and justice have hitherto been deconstructed by numerous scholars, possibly most notably in Franz Fanon’s (1963, 1967) decoloniality, Johan Galtung’s (1969) negative and positive peace, and Paulo Freire’s (1970) pedagogy of the oppressed, as well as recent conceptualizations of epistemic (in)justice (Connell, 2007; Fricker, 2010; Santos, 2014). Each argues that violence emerges from the oppressors’ unjust actions onto the oppressed, caught further in a web of contemporary intellectual, affective, and material colonial relations in which higher education is entangled (Quijano, 2000; Sartre, 2004). The current mass demonstrations on university campuses, as well as previous experiences with student movements to decolonize universities in South Africa, Hong Kong, the UK, and beyond (Hayes, Luckett, & Misiaszek, 2021), are evidence of these interconnections. So, too, is the responsibility of university educators to tackle global issues through higher education pedagogy.

This Special Issue, then, is intended to interrogate the intersections between conflict, peace, and teaching in higher education. We ask for manuscripts that critically examine the trends, challenges, oppositions, and possibilities of peace and justice within conflict zones (i.e., zones that are readily apparent and are not) as related to university teaching. This also includes university spaces, which are too frequently sites of violence, including gender-based violence and sexual harassment. We welcome manuscripts that inquire into the role of higher education in fostering peace or deepening conflict to prepare students to be stewards of constructive peace processes. “Deepening conflict”, as written here, emphasizes that conflict is essential in teaching (Apple, 1990; Freire, 1970); however, as peace educators point out (Harris & Morrison, 2003; Reardon, 1988), teaching to distinguish violence from conflict must be a grounding pedagogical goal. Here, previous research has examined higher education peacebuilding through a variety of theoretical lenses, including coexistence, contact, decoloniality, measures to prevent higher education from attack, social justice, and symbolic violence, among others (Dillabough et al., 2018; Jebril, 2021; Johnson, 2017; Milton et al., 2023; Pherali & Lewis, 2019). Whereas that work focuses primarily on the political economy of conflict and policy interventions, this Special Issue zooms in on higher education teaching specifically.

The Special Issue will include critically diverse analysis, arguments, and counterarguments on the potentiality of higher education to contribute to peacebuilding in varied ways – e.g., through education policy, peace-oriented curricula, pedagogy, civic engagement, an inclusive campus environment, etc. – across different contexts considered to be in conflict (e.g., areas with unresolved armed conflict, sites of political and social instability, or with widespread human rights violations). Some of these settings face direct armed conflict while others experience more insidious forms of violence (e.g., colonial erasures, environmental violence, epistemic injustice, structural racism; see, e.g., Kester, 2024; Kester & Chang, 2022; Misiaszek & Rodrigues, 2023; Paraskeva, 2016; Sriprakash et al., 2020). Common across them all is the necessity for university educators to facilitate criticality in difficult times, as critical thinking, pedagogies, and research are often amongst the first casualties of conflict.

In turn, some questions or themes that could be addressed in higher education teaching include:

  • What is conflict and how to address it in higher education teaching?
    • How does conflict intersect with teaching and pedagogy in higher education ? How might higher education teaching perpetuate or mitigate conflict?
    • How is violence different from conflict? How might they be taught as the same or different?
    • How are these issues addressed in higher education classrooms, how “should” they be, and how are they not? For the last aspect, what are the politics of why not?
    • What are teaching possibilities in higher education, and responses, to politics for maintaining epistemic domination, especially from invasions, that lead to educide, scholasticide, and epistemicide?
  • What constitutes a ‘conflict area’ (in relation to geography, curriculum, pedagogy, etc.) and how is it, and should it be, taught in higher education?
    • What are some of the (dis)connections between higher education teaching and conflict areas in and beyond education?
    • How are some conflict areas not taught as such? What are the politics behind such teaching?
    • How can teaching help to end violence (e.g., gender-based violence, sexual harassment) on university campuses and other higher education spaces?
  • How do university educators pay careful attention to local contexts in unique and particular ways, or not?
    • What are the implications for teaching in higher education?
  • What are the strengths and limitations of the discourses and practices of peace and peace education in universities?
    • How do other concepts such as justice, rights, environmentalism, and sustainability factor in?
    • Are there connections to be made with posthuman/more-than-human and/or postcritical approaches?
  • What are the transdisciplinary needs and possibilities for teaching for peace on university campuses?
    • When and where is peace (not) to be taught?
    • How could universities better support academics in exile/forcibly displaced scholars in their teaching?
    • How do/might academics in exile support the (re)bordering of epistemic demarcations of knowledge and teaching for peace?
  • What types of higher education pedagogies are most conducive to teaching for peace and conflict transformation?
    • What are the larger transformative aspects necessary in higher education?
  • How should/could university educators further disrupt Western/White/Northern savior complexes (and other exclusionary narratives) to promote contextually-relevant bottom-up peacebuilding?
    • What is necessary to disrupt the dominance of epistemologies of the North in higher education to achieve these goals?

In response to the questions above – and others that contributors may raise – diverse theoretical perspectives and methodological approaches are welcome. This might include postcriticality and posthumanism, for example. We aim to gather papers from a variety of contexts, such as ‘stable’, Global North, Global South, Global East, developing, fragile, conflict-affected, and post-conflict settings using various theoretical and methodological (e.g., quantitative, qualitative, and philosophical) approaches. The Special Issue emphasis is on the role of higher education pedagogy, broadly understood, in critiquing and disrupting systemic forms of violence (e.g., direct, structural, cultural, poststructural, slow violence, etc.), such as practices of dehumanization and securitization, and foregrounding efforts for peacebuilding through teaching and learning in higher education.

Interaction with Points of Departure article

Special Issue authors will be given room in their manuscripts to interact with a Points of Departure (PoD) article to be written by the Special Issue editors, Kester and Misiaszek. Drafts of the PoD article will be given before the first full draft of the manuscripts are due. Although not strictly mandatory, it is highly encouraged because this interaction, arguing with and against the PoD’s arguments, will form a thematic constructive assemblage across the Special Issue holistically.


  • 15th September 2024: Submission of short abstracts (250 words).
  • 1st October 2024: Invitation to submit extended abstracts (750 words for full articles, 500 words for Points of Departure (PoD) articles).
  • 15th October 2024: Submission of extended abstracts.
  • 1st November 2024: Invitation to submit full manuscript.
  • 31st January 2025: Submission of full manuscript.
  • Early/Mid-2026: Publication.

Instructions for submission

Please submit your abstract on the form here by 15th September 2024. Proposals will be reviewed by the editors and authors of successful abstracts will be contacted by 1st October.

Full manuscripts are due by 31st January 2025, to be submitted through the journal’s regular portal on its homepage. Please indicate in the submission that the paper is being submitted as a part of the Conflict, Peace, and Teaching in Higher Education Special Issue. Further details are available on the journal website.


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Dillabough, J. A., Fimya, O., McLaughlin, C., Al-Azmeh, Z., Abdullateef, S., & Abedtales, M. (2018). Conflict, insecurity, and the political economies of higher education: The case of Syria post-2011. International Journal of Comparative Education and Development, 20(3/4), 176-196.

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Misiaszek, G. W. (2022b). What cultures are being reproduced for higher education success?: A comparative education analysis for socio-environmental justice. International Journal of Educational Research, 116, 1-11.

Misiaszek, G. W., & Rodrigues, C. (2023). Teaching justice-based environmental sustainability in higher education: generative dialogues. Teaching in Higher Education, 28(5), 903-917.

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