Thesis Abstracts – Class XV

Please check thesis abstracts for eight Class XV, graduated in June 2018.


Lorne Anderson

The Parable of the Good Samaritan teaches that using religion for the purposes of self-justification can ultimately lead to the legitimization of violence. The warning in the parable should encourage individuals within peacework and interfaith dialogue practitioners to consider what self-justifications influence their conceptualization of peacework and their behaviour in such activities. This thesis provides an extensive literature review to emphasize why self-justification is an important topic of study within the context of peacework in the globalized world before turning attention to the field of social psychological field of cognitive dissonance which explains the way self-justifications, self-serving justifications, and system justifications influence individual and collective behaviour. The study then turns to a deconstruction of three semi-structured qualitative interviews from leaders of interfaith peacebuilding organizations in Israel/Palestine. By coding instances of self-justification, self-serving justification and system justification within the interviews it is clear that these justifications influence parameters of inclusion and exclusion within peacebuilding work. By revealing self-justification in the work of peacebuilding initiatives it is hoped that a process of hypocrisy induction can be inspired within the researcher, and the readers of this research that leads to more critical peace work and community development as well as inspiration for more effective diplomacy, human-security approaches and conflict resolution work more broadly.


d’Arcy Lunn

This thesis seeks to question, answer and re-question why and how small ideas and actions dedicated to peace (Teaspoons of Peace) can have an influence on a culture of positive peace. It does so by critically analyzing the contexts, theory and perceptions of peace practitioners, academic theory and importantly, people’s perceptions towards a culture of positive peace.

A mixed methods approach is used of various qualitative and quantitative data to analyse people’s perceptions of a culture of peace, what practitioners are doing matching with those perceptions and the academic theory and best practices from literature. The research is from over 15 countries from proximal, post and distal conflict contexts to compare, contrast, learn and share ideas, practices and actions to find the small but significant Teaspoons of Peace to enhance a culture of positive peace. 273 respondents took part in an online survey to gain insights into everyday people’s perceptions towards a culture of peace as well as conducting 15 interviews with peace practitioners. The theoretical framework comes from a range of peace-related texts as well as theories of change.

Through the synthesis of theories and texts there is a strong component of practical application from the research. There are also key findings and implications for both academic and practitioners on the best ideas, practices and theories to influence a culture of positive peace. The key findings to the Teaspoons of Peace that influence a culture of positive peace include: connecting small ideas and actions with bigger contexts; aim to influence middle-range leaders and institutions; use shared visions for the future to progress reconciliation and cohesion; incorporate both inner individual peace as well as outer collective peace ideas and practices; and most significantly to incorporate people’s perspectives when influencing a culture of positive peace.

There are also ideas from the comparison of conflict contexts of proximal, post and distal conflict to better understand approaches and what can be learned from one context for another. For instance the bigger ideas and actions influencing a culture of peace, most often come from contexts where they have experienced violence and had to work towards establishing peace, as is the case in the post-conflict context of Liberia.

This research adds to the approach and practices of practitioners in the field and better inform academic theories with key findings matched with robust literature and other research.


Louis Mendy

This study seeks to further the empirical understanding of the impediments to the implementation of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Protocol relating to The Free Movement of Persons, Goods and Services at the borders of ECOWAS member states.  The study qualitatively assesses the disconnect between the principles of the ECOWAS protocol and it’s national implementation with a focus on Nigeria’s Seme border with the Republic of Benin.  The Study broadly incorporated migration and border security practice in Nigeria and specifically, examined the gap between the principles of the protocol and it’s practical implementation of at the study area. Again, the study focused on the security concerns and border security challenges at the border. The study adopted a Case Study research design and employed both convenience and purposive sampling techniques in selecting respondents for the study. Data was collected from ECOWAS officials, Nigeria Immigration Border Guards, Travelers and Resident border community leaders and was guided by structured and semi structured interviews.  The study revealed existence of a gap between the demands of the protocol and the Nigerian national migration and border security laws and policies as well as the practice of border security management at the border.  This was evident in the fact that, there is lack of harmony between national migration and border management policy framework and the principles and spirit of the ECOWAS Protocol. In practice, Immigration border guards resort to personal discretion and other ad hoc measures in passenger profiling and immigration controls which poses internal security risks to the country and safety of travelers and citizens.    The study recommends continuous education and awareness raising on the provisions of the protocol amongst ECOWAS citizens, harmonization of national migration and border management polices with the regional mechanisms, provision and deployment of appropriate tools, and equipment and technology for management of migratory and trade flows at the border.


Alexandra Plummer

This thesis investigates the process and outcomes of a participatory video project with small-hold farmer groups in Tanzania. During a 3 month program (July-Sept 2017), farmers from participating innovation groups were trained in a Participatory Video (PV) methodology as a strategy to reflect on a five-year innovation intervention to increase food security and improve livelihoods. The method was utilized to improve community-networking and to promote reflection, awareness and education of their innovations.  Through participatory action research (PAR) a critical reflection session, three short films and a collaborative film screening excursion through the three villages were conducted. The research explores both power issues that arise in implementing PAR and the use of video as a communication tool for enhancing dialogue and sharing knowledge. The aim is to offer suggestions for organizations using participatory approaches. The thesis explores the methodological and theoretical contributions of PAR and participatory video as a strategy for mobilizing knowledge sharing in the community and across different networks. The results reveal the complexities of power, the potential for enhancing citizen mobilization and strengthening networks, and the importance of contextualization.


Francis Rothery

In the wake of neoliberal globalization many local cultures have experienced a sense of being uprooted from their natural geographical, social and cultural environments. In the process the bonds of community, belonging and social responsibility that are usually associated with, and strengthened by religion, have also significantly weakened or been eroded. However, this paper explores the potential for the interspiritual and socially engaged practices of some transnational Buddhist and Christian Faith Designated Groups (FDGs) to become pathways of renewed solidarity. Building on Putnam’s work regarding the demise of social capital and civic involvement further adaptations have been theorized as the beginnings of a postsecular culture, Baker & Beaumont (2011). This thesis will utilize a theoretical approach which suggests that a postsecular  rapprochement between ‘’secular’’ state and business and religious actors may be opening a new social space. This could be creating environments where new identities and a new kind of solidarity are emerging in local communities. Using a phenomenological research design a case study of two Buddhist FDGs in Thailand and in the USA will be contrasted. This will explore the perceptions of their practitioners regarding practices of interspirituality and social engagement. These will be discussed with reference to previous studies conducted with Christian and Buddhist FDGs regarding their capacity to create increased solidarity that goes beyond secular or religious identities and partnerships. To what extent can the structural violence created in the wake of neoliberal hegemony be transcended in the postsecular East and West?


Joseph Smith

This study argued that focuses should not only be on high value or precious minerals (diamonds, gold, bauxite, iron-ore, oil et al), but there is also a need for adding values to the low-value minerals(granite, clay, sand, limestone, et al)sector in the context of sustainable development. Hence, the title of this study is “Adding values to Granite Quarry Mining Sector: An Alternative Approach to Infrastructural Development in post-war Sierra Leone”. Reviews of related literature on granite quarry mining and infrastructural development were carried out to create a nexus between granite mining and its relevance to infrastructural development. Additionally, a field data collection was conducted in the study location Sierra Leone – specifically, in the Western and Eastern regions of the country. A total of 100 respondents were contacted for relevant information through key informants interviews and focus group discussions. In addition, institutions and organizations that hold a stake in the granite quarry mining and related market were contacted for relevant data.  A qualitative method was employed to analyze and discussed findings on the problem investigated through using the Public Private and People Partnership (P4) Model.

The study revealed that even though there is high demand for the utilization of granite products (aggregates in different levels) by the government, construction companies and individuals; the sector is still seriously neglected in the country and there are no regulating mechanisms, no geo-data framework. There is a need for commercial granite quarry companies instead of ad hoc-quarries created by construction companies. There is a need for serious environmental protection, management, and land reclamation. There is a need for health and safety measure; there is a need for geological data for investors and policymakers; there is a need for implementation objectives and action plan. Finally, the research revealed that indeed; adding values to granite mining would have tremendously positive impacts on infrastructural development specifically on housing and roads as well as beautifying the topography of Sierra Leone as a post-war country with the overall impact on human socio-economic development. The study noted that granite mining is an avenue for many marginalized (women and youth) to be gainfully employed and can change their livelihoods and well-being from a low level to a high level. The above findings are sine-qua-non; should the government and its development partners reached the expectation for adding values to granite quarry mining in Sierra Leone.


Moin MD. Uddin

Climate change is one of the major challenges of today’s world. It has real impacts on human mobility, whether in the form of migration or displacement. However, only the number of displaced by sudden onset disasters and related trends are traceable. Estimates of the numbers of ‘environmental/climate migrants’ are found to be methodologically unsound. It is not appropriate either to make projections of the proportion of people living in an ‘at-risk zone’ in a low-income country that will migrate. The reason is that migration is a multi-causal phenomenon. Projections cannot take full account of the human resilience dynamics and other constraining factors which influence migration.

Studies show that migration could be a major factor in the chain of events that leads climate change in to violent conflict. Some researchers argue that there is a good link between environmental scarcity and conflict induced displacement internally and externally in different layers. In first layer, it happens for precursor ideational and physical factors where the more a society faces scarcity of environmental resources, the more it extends the scarcity between demand and supply factors. As a result, the rich group can have advantageous position and take control over resources that create structural scarcity as well as environmental scarcity. In the second stage, it results social segmentation by creating internal displacement and constrained economic inequality. In the third stage, this effect weakens institution and causes group identity conflicts as well as structural violence.

Given the context, this paper aims to highlight the growing concerns of how climate change will drive more migration. The purpose is to i) clarify links between human mobility and climate changes; ii) explore the causal factors why people migrate; iii) illustrate the securitization of human security. It also undergoes on to propose that a human security approach will, by shifting the discourse from state migration to individual migrants, augment efforts to ensure the security of those who are most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.


Magdalena Zurita

There is a need of knowing how to deal with differences in peace studies and practices. In particular, under the current ecological and social crises which demand large efforts. One of the main challenges of these crises is the reduction of poverty and inequality. While some scholars like the World Bank focus on the economic dimension of these problems, others like the UNDP complement this with non-economic elements such as education and health. However, alternative models like the Vivir Bien (Living Well) in Bolivia argue that not only material but also spiritual and social elements, and a different economic and ecological system should be considered. On this matter, this research analysed the extent and conditions under which the Government of Bolivia, UNDP, and the World Bank worked together or not for reducing poverty and inequality under the Evo Morales Government in Bolivia.  This qualitative research was based on the analysis of three case studies in which these institutions were involved: “BO Living Well Indicators”, a joint project between the Government of Bolivia and the World Bank; “Start Plan”, a joint project between the Government of Bolivia, and the UNDP; and the “1st International Seminar on Inequality in the World”, an initiative between the Government of Bolivia, UNDP, World Bank, and Oxfam International. The empirical evidence was obtained through interviews, documentary research, and participant, and direct observation during a four-month fieldwork in Bolivia. Moreover, the analysis was done under a multidimensional approach to poverty and inequality reduction, and a proposed model of working together for Vivir Bien (Living Well). This study aims to make an academic and practical contribution to the debate on poverty and inequality reduction, and the model of life or development that is promoted behind the different approaches, as well as on the controversy about how to work together across differences. The analysis of these topics aims to make a substantive contribution to peace studies and practices.