Welcome to Conflict and Education – An Interdisciplinary Journal. Its purpose is simple: to promote research and inform policy so that access to, and quality of education delivery in war-affected societies may be improved. This type of work is nothing new. The delivery of educational services in environments of conflict has been the focus of many organisations over the years, such as the Inter-Agency Network for Education in Emergencies, the International Rescue Committee, UNICEF, and UNESCO, to name but a few. However, until now, no journal has existed that solely promotes and highlights the extraordinary work that has been accomplished, and that remains. Moreover, the timing of this endeavour could not be more fortuitous. Fortunately, if coincidental, I write this word of welcome just a few days before UNESCO releases its Global Monitoring Report on the goal of attaining Education for All. With the 2011 report bearing the title of “The hidden crisis: Armed conflict and education”, it seems more crucial than ever to launch a journal dedicated to the study of education at this time. Hopefully, Conflict and Education will be able to build upon the attention and momentum created by the report.
The basic assumption of Conflict and Education is that both education and conflict are forces of social change present in every society. However, how they interact is what matters. While our aim is to examine the nexus between conflict and education, it would be naïve to understand these two subjects as two strings that are entwined, and can thus neatly and cleanly be disentangled, and viewed separately. Rather, both conflict and education are dynamic forces that interact with each other, akin to how two currents might react in a body of water. Like currents, they can create turbulence and turbidity. However, without the meeting and interaction of currents, there would be no life, no movement, only stagnation and decay. But again, the forces of learning and competing will never occur in isolation of other forces.
This introductory issue therefore casts a wide gaze on the context of education and conflict. We begin the exploration of the interaction of conflict with education by identifying other social forces that will shape and be shaped by how societies structure learning, and their resolution of disputes. If this is to be a truly interdisciplinary journal, then its inquiry must begin by looking outward, not inward. It was with this in mind that this inaugural issue was given its structure. Authors from varying fields of study were asked to write a short essay describing their disciplinary perspective on the conflict and education nexus. What does this interaction look like through their lens? Consequently, the theme of this issue is: “Conflict, Education and …”. Also, because this is a first issue, the objective of these articles is to provoke thought, and ask questions rather than attempt any answers. The net is cast far and wide, both from these disciplines, and the countless others not included, but that also have equal entitlement to inclusion in this journal. The more perspectives contribute to this inquiry, the more we can collectively understand the factors that affect conflict and education.
The articles in this issue are listed in alphabetical order according to the third dynamic explored in each paper. The essays themselves are not intended to provide any answers; on the contrary, they seek to identify the key questions that merit posing, and the critical issues require investigation. In a sense, this entire issue is meant to provoke thought and stimulate new research and new writing, both on the topics included herein, and the countless others that would also have entitlement to inclusion in this journal. However, as this is an online journal, unconstrained by the physical demands of ink, paper and binding, this issue is sure to expand in the coming weeks, as more questions may be posed, and more challenges are highlighted.
As a whole, these pieces represent but a starting point of new lines of inquiry, and hopefully, a new home and forum for a community of scholars, practitioners and policy makers committed to improving the schooling experience and life opportunities of some of the world’s most disadvantaged citizens. If conflict and education are two forces that will invariably appear in and shape every society, then it is imperative that their interplay be understood. Hopefully, this journal will stimulate discussion and research inquiries that will contribute to a broadening and deepening of our collective understanding of these forces, and, ultimately, allow us to harness them to promote justice and peace for all.
It is with great humility that I welcome you to the pages of Conflict and Education – An Interdisciplinary Journal. It is a project that finds its roots within the Department of Integrated Studies in Education at McGill University. This journal is a tribute to the legacy of the late Dr. Jacqueline Kirk, an adjunct professor within the department whose life was unjustly taken in 2008. Dr. Kirk believed in the power of education to bring a just peace to those living in strife and humiliation. It was this belief that brought her to Afghanistan, to help educate girls, and women teachers, and it was there that her vehicle was attacked by Taliban gunmen, killing her and three colleagues.
A fellowship was started in order to support doctoral students whose research is built upon her work. As recipient of the Dr. Jacqueline Kirk Fellowship in 2010, I searched for a way to honour her legacy. Dr. Kirk, or Jackie, as she was so affectionately called by all who had the pleasure of knowing her, was at the heart of a large community of researchers and scholars, advocates and activists, planners and practitioners. However, I realised, there was nowhere for the members of this community to meet and share ideas. It was from this realisation that Conflict and Education was born. After many months of work, and the overwhelming support of colleagues within the Department, it is my sincere hope that this journal will serve as a true and open forum for all those who wish to continue and build upon the work of Dr. Jacqueline Kirk.
Jules G. Sisk, Founding Editor
Department of Integrated Studies in Education
Montréal, Québec, Canada