Danielle Falk

USA, Ph.D Candidate, Comparative & International Education, Teachers College, Columbia University, New York, NY USA 2021

Agents of Peace: The Lived Experiences of Teachers Working Amidst Forced Displacement and Protracted Conflict in South Sudan and Uganda

Danielle Falk

Project Description

Foregrounding the lived experience of teachers working amidst protracted conflict and forced displacement in Uganda and South Sudan, this project explores the roles, responsibilities, and identities of educators in crisis contexts. While scholars have long studied the work and lives of teachers in middle- and high-income countries, there remains a paucity of research examining teachers’ experiences working in contexts affected by conflict, crisis, and displacement and how they envision education’s relationship to conflict and peace. The dearth of scholarship warrants urgent attention as the world experiences unprecedented, persistent global crises, including the global refugee crisis and COVID-19 health pandemic, with more children and youth, and their teachers, finding themselves learning and teaching amidst uncertainty and instability. My study addresses this gap by focusing on the lived experiences of teachers within and across national borders, shedding light on the patterns and processes of peacebuilding through education in refugee-receiving and producing countries. A multi-sited ethnography utilizing life history interviews, participant observations, and policy analysis, this six-month comparative case study takes place in Palabek refugee settlement, Uganda, and Torit, South Sudan. My research asks two inter-related questions: How does protracted conflict and forced displacement influence teachers’ lived experiences in their classrooms, schools, and communities in refugee-producing and receiving countries? What opportunities and barriers for sustainable peace and regional security do teachers perceive in their work? Centering the experiences of teachers, my research has important theoretical and practical implications across stable and crisis settings for understanding the purpose and potential of education amidst protracted conflict and forced displacement through the perspectives of its most important actor: the teacher.

Danielle Falk is a doctoral student at Teachers College, Columbia University. Her research focuses on the lived experiences of teachers working amidst protracted conflict and forced displacement as well as the policy environment influencing their work. For the last six years, she has contributed to research on teacher well-being, teacher identity, and teacher professional development (TPD) in Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, and South Sudan. She has also designed and implemented multi-modal, continuous TPD for teachers in these settings. Prior to starting her doctorate, Danielle was the Lead Trainer and Capacity Building Manager for Teachers for Teachers in Kakuma refugee camp, Kenya. Danielle holds an MA in International Educational Development from Teachers College, Columbia University and a BA in Sociology from Colorado College.

The Foundation acknowledges that Danielle Falk has successfully completed her project.