Research excellence at the University of Kent

School of Politics and International Relations

The Research Excellence Framework also assesses the impact that the research has outside academia. The case studies below are a selection of the research submitted by the School of Politics and International Relations.

Conflict resolution

Professor Feargal Cochrane, Professor Hugh Miall, Dr Florian Bieber, Dr Elise Féron, Dr Neophytos Loizides

Kent’s research on conflict resolution has been used to enhance professional training in the field and improve democratic participation in conflict-ridden societies. Miall’s research, produced in partnership with Bradford academics, created a framework for conflict resolution that is one of the most widely referred to in the field.

Féron studied civil society organisations in four European cities, representing communities from Rwanda, Turkey and Kosovo. She found these organisations could play a constructive role in homeland conflicts by using social media, networking and dialogue.

Studies by Bieber, Loizides and Cochrane focused on political representation in societies split by deep ethnic, racial and religious divisions. Inspired by the d’Hondt mechanism, as used in the Northern Ireland Assembly, Loizides and Cochrane drew on innovations that make power-sharing arrangements more durable.


Opposing rendition

Dr Ruth Blakeley

Ruth Blakeley’s research provided detailed evidence of a global system of rendition (illegal prisoner transfers), secret detention and torture. Working with Sam Raphael from Kingston University and Reprieve, a legal action charity, the Rendition Project collated a huge amount of open-source data.

This was used to piece together a picture of an international network of secret prisons and torture, initiated by the US Bush administration as part of its ‘war on terror’. It highlighted the possible involvement of many countries across the world, including the UK. In particular, the project’s research revealed that suspicious flights, by aircraft linked to rendition operations, landed in and took off from Scottish airports. Blakeley was able to bring this evidence to the media’s attention, and the international coverage led to a debate in the Scottish Parliament on the use of Scottish airports for rendition, as well as a Scottish police inquiry, which is ongoing.

The Guardian described the Rendition Project as one that ‘sheds unprecedented light on one of the most controversial secret operations of recent years’. The project work – and its open access website – has influenced and informed human rights campaigners, lawyers, journalists and the wider public.

Asia’s missing women

Dr Andrea den Boer

Gender imbalances can destabilise societies argues Andrea den Boer’s pioneering research. She demonstrated that a lack of females in society, due to sex-selective practices, could lead to lower prospects for peace, democracy and international security.

The research drew on past and present case-studies to establish a causal link between ‘bare branches’ (males who are denied a stake in societies) and increased violence and insecurity. Effects can include violence against women, high-risk behaviour leading to criminality, riots, rebellions and the potential to threaten state security.

The ‘bare branches’ argument has been highly influential. It has been discussed by journalists, and referred to by organisations such as Oxfam, the Gendercide Awareness Project, and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

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Last Updated: 11/02/2015

Banner photo (c) Simon Tollington, DICE