A selection of the research submitted by the School of Politics and International Relations for the Research Excellence Framework (2014) and current and completed externally funded research projects and grants.
For the Research Excellence Framework in 2014, the School of Politics and International Relations was ranked 15th for research power and in the top 20 for research impact in the UK.
- 96% of the research submitted was judged to be of international quality.
- The School’s environment was judged to be conducive to supporting the development of research of international excellence.
Current Externally Funded Research Projects/Grants
In August 2017, an open letter signed by 116 robotics researchers sounded a widely-reported warning call about a coming robotic arms race: ‘Once developed, lethal autonomous weapons [LAWS] will permit armed conflict to be fought at a scale greater than ever, and at timescales faster than humans can comprehend’. In the shadow of drone warfare, the autonomy of weapons systems is indeed accelerating largely outside of public attention. Once activated, robotic systems can determine when and who to kill. While humans remain in manual control of drones, the development of more autonomous systems will see them move further and further away from immediate decision-making on killing. They may first only oversee actions undertaken by autonomous technologies and may later not be involved in decisions at all. Autonomous systems currently in late stages of development can typically be operated in different modes: Taranis, a UK-developed autonomous aircraft is thus flown by a remotely positioned operator but also has ‘an autonomous flight mode in which it is trusted to “think” and carry out missions of its own accord’. This looming absence of meaningful human decision-making in warfare makes scrutinising the challenges associated with lethal autonomous weapons systems (LAWS) a matter of vital importance. The aim of this project is to provide knowledge on the negative implications of LAWS for norms governing the use of force by comprehensively and critically monitoring their development. This objective is realized through authoring policy-relevant research outputs. Produced in cooperation with policymakers, the project team will disseminate these outputs to reach key stakeholders on LAWS. Specifically, the project entails two objectives: 1. to map current practices surrounding developing, testing, and deploying LAWS and what understandings of “perceived appropriateness” they are associated with; and 2. to investigate the adverse effects these new understandings may have on normative use-of-force standards by hollowing out what is already an imperfect system of international law that has nevertheless contributed to peace and security in the UN Charter era. So far, debate on LAWS concentrates on their legal-ethical implications, but it does not capture how LAWS may shape international norms through defining diverging standards of perceived “appropriateness” in practice. This process can undermine legal regulations by either “filling” them with diverging substance or by pushing forward novel “standards of appropriateness” that might become dominant as the “right” way of doing things. At the heart of this project will be a project website compiling information on the two objectives listed above and thereby providing comprehensive and critical information to policy-makers to build informed opinion (and decisions) on LAWS. Project website: Coming soon Funding Body: Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust Amount awarded: £20,000
GCRF RCUK Comprehensive Capacity-building in Eastern Neighbourhood and Central Asia: research integration, impact governance and sustainable communities (COMPASS) ES/P010849/1
The project selects four complex case-studies: all ODA recipients of varied-level income, facing similar challenges of an autocratic/ineffective governance and outdated/exclusionary education systems which remain the prime contributors to poverty, conflict and stagnation. The project aims to establish ‘regional hubs’ of knowledge production/transfer to facilitate excellence in the three areas: 1) integrated learning and research capacity by way of (i) developing learning synergies; (ii) offering inclusive and equated education including PhD training schools, student conventions, and staff forums; (iii) developing research partnerships and pilot projects to integrate into a wider funding framework 2) higher-impact governance capacity by way of (i) providing executive training to all-level stakeholders; (ii) offering workshops and skills-development opportunities; and (iii) organising high-impact policy forums for outcome dissemination and policy reforms 3) sustainable community capacity by way (i) developing school engagement; (ii) citizen awareness and activism (citizen juries); (iii) town/country talks on core issues and information festivals. Project partners are selected to offer inter-disciplinarity and all-level engagement, reaching out to government, civil service, businesses, local authorities, youth communities and civil society. The principal aim is to institutionalise international partnerships and to mobilise the hubs-of-excellence to serve as nodes for comprehensive capacity-building and its replication across the region. Project website Funding Body: ESRC (RCUK GCRF) Amount awarded: £2,363,738.47
Citizen preferences in the design of effective peace settlements
How does the design of peace settlements secure citizen support? While there has been much research on peace settlements and their effects, little comparative work incorporates the role of citizen preferences. Peace settlements address multiple dimensions: For example, they may contain provisions on power sharing, territorial autonomy, property rights, prisoner releases and third party security guarantees. The compromises that these peace settlements entail are most often the product of elite rather than popular involvement, in part, because of the difficulties of accurately identifying the tradeoffs the public might accept. Both referendums and existing survey methods are too crude to accurately capture public opinion. This is because they cannot identify the dimensions of a peace settlement that are most important to citizens and the types of compromises the public might support. To address this problem this project will test ideas about the most effective way to design and maintain peace settlements by conducting a series of innovative conjoint survey experiments in Northern Ireland and Cyprus. Data generated by this project will help us identify which aspects of peace settlements are most important to citizens and different groups of citizens and the tradeoffs citizens might accept to secure peace. Our objectives are to use the results of these surveys to: Test the most effective means of designing peace settlements to secure citizen support; Give elite decision makers and citizens a reliable basis for understanding citizen peace settlement priorities in postconflict Cyprus and postconflict and postBrexit referendum Northern Ireland; Develop a transferable set of methods for assessing citizen opinion on peace settlements in postconflict settings. Funding Body: US Institute of Peace Amount awarded: $87,000 USD
An Instrument of Centralisation? Exploring the Politics of Conditional Grants in Federal States
The aim of this project is to scrutinise whether the use of conditional grants in funding welfare policies in federal states does lead to centralisation, as most scholars claim. Centralisation is seen as a problem for federal states because it undermines regional autonomy, the preservation of which is federalism’s fundamental purpose. However, conditional grants may be a useful tool in addressing the so-called ‘devolution paradox’, whereby citizens tend to support regional autonomy but at the same time dislike territorial inequalities. As the politics of conditional grants has not been systematically investigated, we do not know whether they really centralise power in the hands of the federal government. To answer this question, the project examines the genesis, monitoring, and enforcement of programmes funded through conditional grants in Australia, Canada, and the United States. By so doing, it sheds light on an important aspect of how federal systems operate. Funding Body: British Academy: Newton International Fellowship Amount awarded: £59,344.00
The 'Brexit Referendum' and Identity Politics in Britain
This proposal aims to balance the world-class original research with an intensive and inclusive impact plan. Our work to meet these objectives will draw on a unique support from the British Election Study (BES). To achieve these dual aims we will: (1) examine how the vote to leave the EU relates to emerging divisions in British society around immigration, diversity and identity: as a continuation of past trends, a transient shock, or the beginning of a fundamental political realignment; (2) investigate how the referendum result is impacting on the internal politics and electoral strategies of the main opposition political parties to the left and right of the governing Conservative Party; (3) question how the referendum result is impacting on the politics of immigration, currently the most salient issue in the country, and map the emergence of a new agenda within this area: of immigrant integration policy and politics; (4) through an intensive stream of impact and knowledge exchange work, we will communicate our findings to key stakeholders, working directly with Professor Menon and the UK In a Changing Europe team to inform politicians, policymakers, journalists and civil society groups. We will also make specific space for Early Career Researchers within this impact work. The June 23rd 2016 referendum vote to leave the EU revealed deep social divides which cut across traditional party lines, and set up the most complex and divisive political reform agenda for decades. The manner in which the government proceeds with this agenda will depend very much on the patterns of electoral competition it faces. All governments are sensitive to electoral pressure, and the current government, with a perilously small majority, will be no exception. The electoral pressures of the government will be- in turn- to a large extent influenced by how the politics of immigration develop post-referendum, and how much immigration policy will change in the process of leaving the EU. This proposal directly addresses two priority areas: 'Brexit and party politics' and 'Implications for migration'. This programme of high impact research will offer new insights on some of the most important new pressures on UK politics in the aftermath of the vote for Brexit. Our research has four goals: (1) to examine how the vote to leave the EU relates to the emergence of divisions in British society around immigration, diversity and identity, as a continuation of past trends, a transient shock, or the beginning of a fundamental political realignment; (2) to investigate how the referendum result is impacting on the internal politics and electoral strategies of the main opposition political parties to the left and right of the governing Conservative Party; (3) analyse how the referendum result is changing the politics of immigration, currently the most salient issue in the country, and map the emergence of a new agenda within this area: of immigrant integration policy and politics; (4) undertake an intensive and clearly-defined stream of impact and knowledge exchange work to communicate our findings to key stakeholders, working with Professor Menon to inform politicians, policymakers, journalists and civil society groups. The impact work will also actively engage a large group of Early Career Researchers. The three investigators have a long track record of delivering top research outputs in internationally excellent journals, leading academic presses, and engaging with a wide variety of research users to achieve tangible societal impacts in the areas related to this application. We will maximise value for money by using existing data sources, many already financed by the ESRC. The partnership with the British Election Study team will enable us to gather new data efficiently through an existing large scale research project, offering strong return on investment. The project is divided into three work packages (WP): WP1 will bring together work on the social cleavages and party competition; WP2 will deliver research into the politics and policies of immigration and integration; and WP3 will coordinate impact efforts. Funding Body: ESRC Amount awarded to University of Kent: £64,910.40 Total amount awarded to Kent and Manchester: £204,754.72
Securing sector reform and the stability of post-war peace
Research Questions Security Sector Reform (SSR) is commonly defined as changes in the structure and conduct of those state institutions responsible for the prosecution and punishment of non-legal manifestations of violence: the military, police, and judiciary. Scholars and practitioners alike thereby see the process of SSR as one of the most vital elements for creating a stable post-war peace. The empirical record shows that SSR has been more successful in some cases than in others in contributing to post-war peace, understood here as the absence of collective, political violence. While SSR stands as a substantial contribution to peace after civil war in Liberia (Aboagye and Rupiya, 2005) or Nicaragua (Kurtenbach, 2010), violence persisted in other cases where SSR was part of the peacebuilding effort, such as in the DRC. Against this background, the goal of the project is to identify why SSR leads to post-war peace in some cases but not in others. Thus, the research question guiding this project is: Under what conditions does SSR increase the stability of post-war peace? Contribution to International Research The project will contribute to past research in three ways. (1) Theoretically, we construct an argument on the impact of post-war SSR on peace that links closely to the debate of post-war institutional reform, a link that has been inadequately established by past research. In this argument, we particularly attend to the question of who controls a post-war SSR process. (2) Methodologically, we add to past research by testing our assumptions using a mixed-method research design that combines inductive case studies for theory-building with statistical analysis for theory-testing. This strategy allows us to formulate generalizable findings on the effects of SSR on peace as well as studying tangible steps of causal mechanisms. (3) Empirically, we advance past research by selecting cases from distinct world regions (El Salvador, the DRC, and Nepal), while previous studies often compare SSR intra-regionally (e.g. Heiduk, 2014; Slaby, 2003). Studying cases from different regions allows us to discover mechanisms of SSR that work across cultural contexts. We also study early and more recent cases of SSR to consider both short-term and long-term effects. Research Design and Methods We use a mixed-method research design that connects theory-building case studies with theory-testing statistical analysis. (1) First, we conduct three theory-building, inductive case studies for which we select cases of SSR that past research as well as policy reports consider as instances of successful or unsuccessful SSR. To ensure cross-regional comparison, we choose cases from different world regions. Based on the expertise of the applicants, the cases are from Latin America, sub-Saharan Africa, and Asia. Based on these criteria, the following countries are selected: El Salvador, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) as well as Nepal. Underlying causal mechanisms will be traced by performing process tracing that draws on semi-structured elite and expert interviews with several groups of interviewees during field work. (2) Choosing to first conduct the case study analysis in our research design is a strategy that allows us not only to refine our theory and develop hypotheses out of our assumptions, but to also identify more refined variables for which we can then explore more generalizable relationships. Thus, in a second step, we test the proposed relationships in a statistical survival analysis that allows us to formulate generalizable observations on the impact of SSR on the stability of post-war peace. We test our hypotheses on all post-war peace periods (1990-2013). Preliminary Results A first literature survey on current SSR debates and on the SSR processes in our cases highlight two factors. First, there is a necessity to link the analysis of SSR to the theoretic debates on the role of the military (and other armed actors) in political, economic and social development. Secondly, cross area comparisons have a very promising potential as they allow to identify generalizable factors influencing SSR processes. Funding Body: Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft Amount awarded: €85,718.75
Building Research Excellence in Russian and East European Studies at the Universities of Tartu, Uppsala and Kent (UPTAKE) H2020 Twinning Project (691818)
The overall goal of the project is to raise research productivity and excellence of University of Tartu political scientists in the field of Russian and East European Studies via cooperation with two renowned research institutions -- Uppsala University and the University of Kent – that have an outstanding track record in the field. The SMART objectives of the project are as follows: - A 15% increase in the number of peer-reviewed articles published by UT scholars in high impact journals (in the top 10% impact ranked journals) in the field of Russian and Eastern European studies (compared to a reference period of three years prior to the signature of the grant agreement); - a 25% increase in the number of publications (articles, monographs, edited volumes) co-authored with foreign colleagues (compared to a reference period of three years prior to the signature of the grant agreement); - a 30% increase in external (i.e. originating from outside the University of Tartu) research and development funding secured during the three-year period (compared to a reference period of three years prior to the signature of the grant agreement) - a 10% reduction in the average length of time a doctoral student is enrolled in the Ph.D. programme before graduating (compared to a reference period of three years prior to the signature of the grant agreement); - a 10% increase in number of new doctoral graduates (compared to a reference period of three years prior to the signature of the grant agreement). Project website Funding Body: European Commission (Horizon 2020) Amount awarded to the University of Kent: €320,163.75 Total amount awarded to Kent, Tartu and Uppsala: €1,016,410.00
Truth, Accountability or Impunity? Transitional Justice and the Economic Crisis
The project aims to build a comparative research programme to investigate how European societies have dealt with issues of truth and accountability in the post-2008 global financial crisis. It will use the framework of transitional justice to understand how political elites deal with the causes of crisis at critical economic junctures. It engages directly with scholarly research and international policymaking. The project will collect empirical evidence to identify policy responses of six European countries (Ireland, Spain, Greece, Portugal, Cyprus, Iceland) to address the causes of the economic crisis. For this part of the project, local researchers will be employed to build a new database and collect primary empirical data from each country. Next, an international conference will set the stage for debates of truth, justice and accountability at critical economic junctures, bringing together academics and policymakers from each country. Finally, the project is international, as it examines how external influences affect domestic policy responses in times of crisis. Hence, a significant part of the fieldwork is dedicated to conducting semi-structured interviews with IMF executives to shed light on the role of external conditionality attached to bailout programs. Funding Body: ESRC Amount awarded: £38,271.51
Answering the Needs of Teaching, Education and Research on EU Foreign Policy (ANTERO)
The goal of the ANTERO Jean Monnet Network is therefore to strengthen the interaction between research in the field of EU foreign policy and the translation of that research through innovative, research-led teaching. Funded over three years by the ERASMUS+ programme, this programme will include the production of specific open access research material (such as working papers) and teaching outputs which can be easily accessed and integrated to the teaching of undergraduate and graduate students world-wide and which will contribute to the professional development of early-career academics and a strengthening of EU studies in this field. Twitter Funding Body: European Commission - Education, Audiovisual and Cultural Executive Agency of the European Union - Erasmus+ Programme Amount awarded: €29,881
Revisiting Cyprus: The British-Cypriot Diasporas as Peace Agents
This project aims to explore and analyse the transformative role of the Cypriot diaspora in Britain. It introduces the first collaborative research programme focusing on the Greek and Turkish Cypriot diaspora and proposes a series of activities to study and encourage its positive engagement and inclusion in the current peace talks. An estimated quarter of the Cyprus population lives as diaspora in Britain. These communities engage in activities which insinuate their desire to be involved in homeland politics. Yet, so far, there has been little effort to study diaspora perceptions of conflict or to engage their community organizations into the ongoing peace process. The project’s goals are twofold: a) to provide a theoretically informed analysis as to why diaspora members support or oppose peace initiatives; b) to promote positive engagement of the diaspora through highprofile events involving British and UN policymakers. Funding Body: British Academy: Newton Advanced Fellowship Amount awarded: £97,698.00
In or Out? Informing the Political Debate and Popular Opinion on UK's EU Membership
The UK government is currently renegotiating the terms of Britain’s EU membership and will hold a referendum on the new deal before the end of 2017. This project seeks to inform both the political debate (and by extension popular opinion) by holding six public seminars that bring together academics, policy-makers, politicians, diplomats, business and trade union leaders as well as journalists – under the joint aegis of the James Madison Charitable Trust (JMCT) and the Centre for Federal Studies (CFS) at the University of Kent. The seminars will focus on the four ‘bundles of renegotiation’ set out by the Prime Minister (see below) and three themes of overarching importance to the outcome of the referendum: legitimacy, identity, and Britain’s role in Europe after the vote. Each seminar will be coordinated jointly by a Trustee of the JMCT and an academic from the CFS. Ahead of each seminar, the project leader Adrian Pabst – together with colleagues from both the JMCT and the CFS – will write a short Working Paper that sets out the main issues and provides arguments and evidence from experts. The Working Papers will serve as the basis for debate and discussion. After each seminar, the findings will be disseminated using a combination of podcasts with key experts and participants as well as op-ed and comment pieces in the press. At the end of the project, Adrian Pabst will compile all the Working Papers into a single report with a series of conclusions and recommendations. The overarching aim is to broaden and deepen the debate, so that decision-makers (and, through their arguments, voters) can make a more informed choice in the referendum. To ensure impartiality, each seminar would feature participants who represent both sides of the debate (though not necessarily speakers). Compared with existing initiatives such as the ESRC programme on the UK in a Changing Europe and the LSE Commission on the Future of Britain in Europe, this project provides a comprehensive engagement with decision-makers and a series of public seminars with the participation of opinion-formers. Whereas the LSE Commission hearings are closed, the seminars as part of this project will be open to a wide range of speakers and participants. And whereas the ESRC initiative runs until 2019, this project seeks to inform the debate in the run-up to the referendum and its aftermath. Funding Body: James Madison Charitable Trust Amount awarded: £15,000
EU as International Mediator Collaborative Research Network
The EU as International Mediator (EAIM) network seeks to create a platform to launch research into new knowledge on the EU’s role in international crisis through mediation. Whereas mediation plays an important role in conflict analysis theory, its study remains nascent in scholarship on European Union’s international role. This network seeks to bring together the wider corpus of understanding on mediation as an initial step to the study of the EU’s developing role as mediator and as a component of its wider foreign and security policy. The network will allow for dialogue and collaboration between colleagues with background in conflict studies seeking to understand mediation and its dynamics, and those seeking to account for actions conducted by the EU. Funding Body: UACES Amount awarded: £5,000