Since the 1990s, I have been working on how to creatively engage with conflict, difference and divide within teams, organisations and local communities in the UK. In 2001, this led to the formation of Community Resolve, which engaged in 15 years of innovative community building across Bristol involving all aspects of the city’s social fabric – backgrounds, age groups, geographical areas and socioeconomic brackets.
In 2017, I was funded by the UK’s Economic and Social Research Council to undertake an interdisciplinary social science PhD exploring the interplay of conflict, power and collaboration, which was then followed by an ESRC postdoc as a senior research associate at the Jean Golding Institute, University of Bristol. Both my PhD and postdoc employed IT approaches to research beneath the surface of conflict dynamics (ended September 2022). One outcome of the postdoc has been the formation of the IPTG (Interdisciplinary PeaceTech Group), which in turn has led to the Researcher-in-Residence award with REPHRAIN.
During my residency, I hope to work closely with the REPHRAIN team to provide learnings and developments for the REPHRAIN toolbox from the emerging field of PeaceTech, which sits at the intersection of technology, conflict prevention and peacebuilding. PeaceTech is focussed on the utilisation of ICTs and other technologies to maximise the peacebuilding benefits of the sharing technologies while minimising harms, and so is closely aligned with the aims of REPHRAIN. It will provide ideas and concepts that will support responsible future tech innovation relating to social media applications and platforms; AI and VR; online mapping; and the appropriate use of big data sets.