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Peace, Equality and Social Justice

Research theme

Our Peace, Equality and Social Justice (PESJ) theme brings together researchers from across De Montfort University (DMU) and provides a framework not only for making our research more externally visible but for establishing and consolidating fruitful relationships with external partners, both national and international, with a view to developing innovative collaborations. PESJ is one of five research themes, part of the university’s institutional fabric and key to the development of a new research strategy.

PESJ has been broadly defined to incorporate a wide range of subject areas. Some clearly defined sub-themes have also been created that give greater clarity, allowing researchers to identify specific areas that their own research might align with. This will help to create vital synergies between researchers across faculties, research centres and institutes but also when building external networks and stakeholders. In addition, PESJ aligns neatly with UN SDG16 (Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions), for which DMU is a United Nations Global Educational Hub, and which is a demonstrable USP for the university. Many of the core objectives within SDG16 are consistent with the PESJ theme and related sub-themes, and it is envisaged that there will be close collaboration between the university’s SDG16 team and our PESJ research.

The PESJ theme incorporates many of the fundamental challenges societies face, locally, nationally and internationally. These challenges are myriad but range from the mitigation of conflict, dealing with the residue of conflict (including refugee flows resulting from armed conflict and/or state collapse), the social impact of environmental degradation, to issues such as equal access to justice, greater democratic participation, social cohesion, and tackling gender and racial inequalities.

We should, as researchers, be fully engaged with existing and emerging problems and be seeking to provide solutions or to better understand the complexities of these problems. As a global university, and one with a global outlook, with an international staff and student base, with established national and international partnerships and with strong potential for developing exciting future research projects, we are well positioned to address these challenges. The PESJ sub-themes are listed below and are illustrative, not exhaustive. They are constantly evolving to respond flexibly to the aforementioned problems and challenges:

  • Trust, social cohesion and stable communities
  • Peacebuilding, reducing violence, conflict mitigation and building sustainable societies
  • Tackling gender and racial inequalities
  • Promoting freedom of the media and a strong civil society
  • Protecting children, women and refugees from exploitation
  • The rule of law, justice and equal access to justice
  • Equal access to education, opportunities, and democratic participation
  • Combating national and transnational organised crime, financial crime, and corruption
  • Developing and consolidating strong, accountable and transparent institutions and democratic and inclusive political systems.
  • Inclusive growth and promoting health equality in the post-pandemic world

Project: Tackling Human Trafficking

A research project established to tackle modern slavery and end exploitation earned a DMU academic an award from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and International Association of Universities (IAU). Dr Laura Pajon led a research project to establish and develop a multiagency partnership to combat the problem. For this, she co-created the Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland Modern Day Slavery Action Group (LLRMSAG).

Learn more about Dr Pajon's work

SDG16 projects

DMU is the global hub for UN Sustainable Development Goal 16 to promote peace, justice and strong institutions. Information about DMU projects connected to SDG16 on themes including Modern Slavery, Democracy Deficit, Build Back Better, Organised Crime, and Refugees can be found on this link: The SDG 16 projects.

Learn more about SDG16

The Stephen Lawrence Research Centre projects

The Stephen Lawrence Research Centre (SLRC) targets inclusive and intergenerational research into areas such as the culture of black and other racial minorities in the UK, institutional racism, the denial of justice, and racial violence. More detail on the current projects in the SLRC can be found on this link

Learn more about the SLRC

The PESJ theme incorporates many of the fundamental challenges societies globally face. The impacts of the climate emergency, the economic and social impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, technological change and automation, and an international political and geopolitical environment in flux could have significant implications for democracies, democratic institutions, the rule of law and, by extension, individual rights, economic inequalities and racial and gender equality.

Professor Kenneth Morrison