The Social Movement Learning project is a ground breaking initiative that seeks to explore the learning and knowledge production processes of four very different social movements, located in four countries and continents, as they advocate for peace with social justice in conditions of violent conflict and its aftermath.

The research is led by the Centre for International Education, University of Sussex in partnership with War on Want, UCL-Institute of Education, and the four social movements. The research is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).

In an era of increasing inequality, conflict and rising authoritarianism social movements often represent a first line of defence for some of the most marginalized communities, seeking to defend and extend the conditions for a basic and dignified human existence. Yet in the developing world, they often operate and advocate in conditions of state repression, threats and insecurity, conditions which can serve to undermine movement cohesion, solidarity and effectiveness . This is particularly the case in contexts affected by violent conflict.
Why this research?
  1. strengthening social movements is an important peacebuilding objective, yet research on social movement strengthening in peacebuilding processes is largely absent.
  2. social movement research needs to be more ‘movement relevant’ and more participatory in its approach.
  3. education and knowledge production processes have hitherto been largely ignored by social movement research and can provide crucial theoretical and empirical evidence that can support improved understanding and feed into enhanced social movement practice.
  4. the research process is also an intervention into the life of these movements, with the hope that both the process and product, and the broader inter-movement exchanges, can support movement innovation, build new links and solidarities – both South-South and North-South, strengthen the learning processes in the respective movements and be of value to similar movements around the world.
  • This participatory, co-produced research seeks to understand how social movements, in some of the most complex and conflict affected contexts in the world, build knowledge, develop strategy, and educate in the pursuance of peace with social justice
  • Four participatory case-studies of four very different types of social movement, in Colombia, Nepal, Turkey and South Africa will be explored through a process of participatory, collaborative research that is carried out in close collaboration with the respective social movements.
Project Objectives
  1. Critically examine the learning and knowledge production processes of four social movements in conflict affected contexts
  2. Strengthen the respective social movements’ learning and knowledge production processes, their reflexivity and strategic development
  3. Promote South-South and North-South dialogue and relationships to promote improved practice and international solidarity
  4. Enhance national and global understanding of social movement learning and the role of social movements in promoting sustainable peacebuilding
  5. Co-produce four detailed social movement case studies and a critical comparative analysis, extracted from the case studies.