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Fellows 2017


University of Sussex

Bucerius Fieldwork Grant

Higher Education, Conflict and the Public Sphere: A History of the National University in Lebanon


My research looks at the “public” roles of higher education in societies affected by conflict, focusing on the history of the national university in Lebanon.  The research traces the trajectory of the Lebanese University from its visionary origins in the post-independence era, through the physical and political-sectarian fragmentation of the university during the civil war (1975-1990), and the post-war marketization of the higher education sector. These lived experiences are a lens through which to examine changing ideas about higher education as a “public good”, its contribution to the “public sphere”, and its role in both reproducing and challenging socio-political divisions within society.

Helen Murray is at the Centre for International Education, University of Sussex. For the past 12 years she has worked in the international development sector on questions of education, development and social justice. Her interest in the role of higher education in social and political change partly stems from her experiences at Birzeit University in Palestine, where she was first a student and later worked at the university. She was awarded the ESRC Ph.D. studentship at Sussex in 2015 and has an M.A. (Hons) in History, University of Edinburgh and M.A. in Post-war Recovery Studies, University of York.

2014: Murray, Helen. ‘Fulfilling the promise of school education? Factors shaping education inequalities in Ethiopia, India, Peru and Vietnam’, in J. Boyden and M. Bourdillon (Eds). Growing up in Poverty: Findings from Young Lives, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

2008: Murray, Helen. ‘Curriculum wars: national identity in education’, London Review of Education, Vol. 6, Issue 1, 39-45.

2006: Barghouti, Riham and Murray, Helen. ‘The struggle for academic freedom in the Palestinian Occupied Territories’, in A.R. Bubtana (Ed.) Academic Freedom Conference: Problems and Challenges in Arab and African Countries, 10 -11 September 2005, Alexandria, Egypt. Paris: UNESCO.

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