Ethical Engagement in Conflict Research

July 9–10, 2019

This conference is closed to the public.

The past two decades have seen a major expansion in the breadth and depth of research on armed conflict, oppression, and inequality. Our research methods and tools have grown more advanced. This includes exponential increases in access to the available data and datasets, independent and collaborative fieldwork, and technical advances like machine learning and big data mining. There are strong incentives for generating new knowledge and research programs that address challenging and volatile issues by working with underexplored research sites or marginalized populations.

As the number and scope of contemporary armed conflicts increases, and commensurate research expands, we need more than ever to be attentive to the risks associated with researching issues of violence and inequality. At the same time as our information and connectedness have been growing, spaces for critical reflection and building professional communities of care have been receding. In examining power dynamics and ethical engagement in conflict research, this workshop will make our collective field of study more rigorous, effective, and intentional in its contribution to tackling challenges in policy and practice.

Research is rarely neutral or inert, and calls for greater research impact and engaged scholarship demand careful navigation of power and authority in academic work. This workshop, supported by the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs and Harvard Kennedy School, gathers together leading scholars to discuss, document, and disseminate the state of the art for conducting ethical research on violence and oppression in its myriad
forms. Without care, compassion, and accountability in a strong professional ethical community, conflict-related topics can quickly become high-risk for researchers, affected communities, and the broader objective of evidence-based change for the common good. This advanced workshop provides a closed-door space for candid and confidential discussion and examination of key ethical issues arising in different types of research on conflict, inequality, and violence amongst experienced leaders in the field. We request short memos in advance of the workshop that focus on ethical dilemmas and trade-offs arising from participants’ respective research methods and questions. We expect a possible outcome may be a new collection of essays that makes pointed contributions to
interdisciplinary research, new methods and technologies, and balancing issues of impact and engagement with risks of access and transparency.

Cosponsored by the Folke Bernadotte Academy, Sweden.

See also: Conferences, 2019


Karen Brounéus

Associate Professor in Peace and Conflict Research, Uppsala University, Sweden