Education, Conflict and Peace Lab at Seoul National University

Kevin Kester with Ana Velasco, Euna Lim, Mary Abura, and Soyeon Park , October 21, 2020

This short blog post will introduce CPERG’s newest alliance with the Education, Conflict and Peace Lab at Seoul National University (ECP Lab @ SNU). The ECP Lab @ SNU is a new lab run by Dr Kevin Kester, a graduate of the Faculty of Education in Cambridge and an alumnus member of CPERG. Dr Kester has recently joined the faculty in the Department of Education at SNU, and in this capacity he has established the ECP Lab.

Currently, there are 5 postgraduate student members, with the lab expected to grow to 20-30 members within the first few years. The current students are researching a variety of areas at the intersections of education, conflict and peacebuilding. These include a Master’s thesis on peace museums and non-formal education in post-violence Colombia; a Master’s thesis on global education policy and peacebuilding; and a PhD thesis on education for nonviolence in universities in Korea and South Africa.

The MA and PhD theses build on the strengths of the lab in comparative international education; sociology of education; peace education theory and practice; education in conflict-affected societies; and qualitative research methods (what the lab calls “deep data”).

The goal of the ECP Lab @ SNU is twofold: (1) to develop a world-class research and teaching portfolio concerning conflict and peacebuilding through education, focused especially on the Asia-Pacific region; and (2) to develop students’ research and teaching capabilities through rigorous applied training. In this regard, the ECP Lab oversees several research initiatives and the teaching of courses related to Education, Conflict and Peace within the Department of Education, as well as research consultantships to international organizations.

For example, several members of the lab are currently working as research assistants with Dr Kester on a Korean National Research Foundation (NRF) funded study to investigate a conflict-sensitive approach to higher education pedagogy in Korea. Drawing on lessons learned from university educators in Afghanistan and Somaliland the study aims to develop a practical conflict-sensitive toolkit for Korean-based educators teaching students in and from conflict-affected contexts. The 2-year project is expected to lead to a number of research outputs, which members of the lab may also coauthor. This is the first step toward achieving the goals of the lab.

Ana Velasco, a current MA student in the lab, explains her view of the research group: “the lab is engaged substantially on researching Global South-led initiatives regarding peace education and the creation of a culture of peace through the analysis of local initiatives. This analysis will allow the creation of a valuable portfolio of best practices and experiences that could be useful toward enhancing practices in the Asia-Pacific region.”

In conclusion, it is expected that the partnership between CPERG and the ECP Lab @ SNU will support collaborative learning between students in Cambridge and Seoul, and foster a network of educators, researchers and activists committed to global justice, peacebuilding, conflict transformation, and nonviolent social change around the world. Some planned CPERG-ECP Lab activities for the future might include: joint talks, reading groups, symposia, collaborative research projects, special journal issues, and a joint CPERG-ECP Lab @ SNU conference.

Members of the ECP Lab @ SNU are delighted to be joining with CPERG and look forward to a fruitful partnership. For more on the ECP Lab @ SNU, see

Kevin Kester is Assistant Professor of Comparative International Education and Peace/Development Studies at Seoul National University. He is director of the ECP Lab.

Ana Velasco is a Global Korea Scholarship awardee currently pursuing her Master’s degree in Global Education Cooperation at Seoul National University.

Euna Lim is a full-time graduate student in Seoul National University’s Global Education Cooperation Program. She has over 5 years of experience working in the NGO sector.

Mary Abura is a PhD student in the Global Education Cooperation Program at Seoul National University. She is a huge proponent of applying a nonviolent pedagogical approach to education.

Soyeon Park is a PhD student in Global Education Cooperation, and a research assistant with Dr Kester.