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PhD Research in Focus

Claudio Alberti - International Peace Studies

I am a Ph.D. Researcher in International Peace Studies and a Development Aid worker with an academic background in Political Science and Economics. Over the past years, I worked with different UN Entities and NGOs in development and humanitarian settings in Europe, Sub-Saharan Africa, and Central/South Asia in progressively responsible M&E capacities.

My doctoral research focuses on local ownership in peacebuilding processes and analyzes how and if Adaptive Peacebuilding interventions can build local ownership through the empirical case study of the peacebuilding process in the Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. My main research interests are: adaptive peacebuilding, bottom up approaches to peacebuilding, Design Monitoring and Evaluation for peace and peace education.

Lydia Blake - Intercultural Theology and Interreligious Studies

MPhil in International Peace Studies and recipient of the James Haire Memorial Prize for best dissertation. Honours Bachelor’s Degree in World Religions, Theology & Near and Middle Eastern Studies.

Current Research: A Political Pope In Hell. My thesis aims to show how Dante Alighieri's Divine Comedy acted as an instigator for the Renaissance. This will be done by viewing Dante Alighieri through the lens of political theology and showing how the relationship between the secular governing political authorities and the ecclesiastical authorities at the time, led to the usage of Dante’s law of contrapasso specifically in the Inferno, Canto XIX.


Seungeun Chung - International Peace Studies

I’m a PhD candidate of International Peace Studies. I have focused on gender issues in the post-conflict peacebuilding process. My master thesis focused on a concept of gendered security as a framework for designing and implementing a more gender-sensitive and a comprehensive peacebuilding process. The current research is about the impact of peacekeeping experience on the masculine identity of soldiers who serve in the peacekeeping operations.

Considering that every peacekeeping mission involves military personnel, regardless of using armed forces, and that problems caused by peacekeepers’ misbehavior such as sexual exploitation and abuse against the local women are still prevalent, I think it is necessary to explore the construction of soldier’s militarized masculinity and how it is changed, and reshaped by peacekeeping missions. I’m also highly interested in the education field especially for women and children in conflict-ridden societies who can rarely have the opportunity to get an education. It would be great to cooperate with these people in making genuine, sustainable ‘security’ and ‘peace’.


Meins G.S. Coetsier - Theology (Loyola Institute)

Title: ‘Divine Concern.’ Towards a Theology of Prison Ministry: A Contemporary Approach to Imprisonment as a Mode of Jesus’ Forsakenness. Drawing upon experiences as a prison chaplain in Germany, and meditating on Karl Rahner’s text on the prison pastorate (‘Gefängnisseelsorge: Ein theologischer Hintergrundtext’) in Mission and Grace (Vol. 3), I became aware of the need for a coherent and working Christian theology of prison ministry.

In light of this, my PhD research project explores and aims to shape a framework for thinking about the contemporary theology of prison ministry aided by the concrete experience of prison life. Such theology arguably begins with (i) a conviction of the inherent worth of the human person as imago Dei, as created by God in God’s own image; (ii) the experience of the incarnate presence of God with people in their alienation; (iii) the response of individuals to what I like to call ‘the divine concern’.


Shane Daly - Theology (Loyola Institute)

Title: ‘Called to Preach the Word: Laity and the ministry of preaching’ – A case study in ecclesiology.’ The challenge to have the gospel heard in the present age is immense. This thesis will explore a question of profound importance for the Church in the present and for its future - the question of ministry and who can minister in the Church. It is a question whose answer will impact upon how the gospel is proclaimed, how discipleship is nurtured, and how the mission to evangelize is carried forward.

The thesis will explore questions of ministry, paying particular attention to the ministry of preaching, and a consideration of who may, and who may not, preach today. The theology underpinning these permissions will be explored, critiqued and evaluated to determine if current law and practice might perhaps need to change in light of a deepening theological understanding of ministry.


Marcus B.P. Gaffney - Theology (Loyola Institute)

Title: The Possibilities of Personal Liberty: Toward a Comprehensive Thomistic Theology of Free Human Action. This research explores the philosophical and theological relevance of personal liberty especially as it has been treated by St. Thomas Aquinas and the Thomist tradition.

Looking at secondary sources but especially focusing on primary sources in Aquinas’ Summa Theologiae and other writings, the study seeks to sort through and eliminate many of the false notions of liberty and recover the foundations for a realist and relevant contemporary theology of liberty which is based on a clear view of God’s will for personal liberty, the dignity and place of the human person in the divine economy of creation, and upon solid moral principles from divine revelation.


Megan Greeley - International Peace Studies

My research focuses on the reconceptualization of mentoring as an adaptive peacebuilding practice in warzones. I'm specifically examining the axiology, ontology, and epistemology of relational mentoring within active warzones and how individuals can move within relational, traditional and dysfunctional mentoring relationships to build and sustain networks and cultures of peace across conflict lines and across levels of society.

My case study is Nuba Mountains in Sudan which has been in an active state of civil war between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and Sudan People’s Liberation Army-North (SPLA-N) since 2011 without UN support.


Nandini Gupta - International Peace Studies

My research is in feminist peace studies and war politics. The title of my PhD project is “The Wandering Minstrels of Hope: Tracing the Role of Women’s Grassroots Peacebuilding in Kashmir and Northern Ireland” where I am identifying the similarities of peacebuilding approach in terms of non-violent peace movement against the militarism in both of these societies. My work is preoccupied with the pivotal role of women in investigating the importance of political identity in post-conflict reconstruction and the agency of unarmed political collaborators in bringing out the waves of sustainable change and practices of inclusion.

I am also a research assistant for “Pericles”, an EU funded project and I have presented papers at international conferences around Dublin, London, Oxford and Delhi. My research interests are Feminist peacebuilding, Transversal Politics, and Non-violent political action. My academic background includes an MPhil in Gender Studies, an MA in English and Cultural Studies, and a BA in English.


Changhyun Hong - Intercultural Theology and Interreligious Studies

I am a student from South Korea pursuing my doctorate in Intercultural Theology and Interreligious Studies at the School of Religion with Dr Jude Lal Fernando as my supervisor. My thesis focuses on the relationship between Korean Protestant churches and North Korean defectors in light of Emmanuel Levinas’ ‘the ethics of the Other’. It explores ways in which this interaction can be transformed from being a church-centric one where the ‘Other’ is treated as an object and used to serve the various agendum of the churches to an ethical one in keeping with the teachings of Jesus in whose name the churches operate.

My academic interest also lies in ‘incarnational hospitality’ – a confluence of the concept of hospitality as propounded by Levinas and the Christian theological idea of incarnation – as ethics by which the churches can truly contribute towards peacebuilding in the Korean peninsula.


Hassina Kiboua - International Peace Studies

I am currently the Resettlement Officer of the Irish Refugee Council. Part of my role is to provide information on rights, entitlements and obligations of resettled refugees in Ireland, assist them in accessing their rights, and to work with the Employment Officer on matters relating to the employment needs of resettled refugees. Another element of my work is to gather information about best practice on refugee resettlement in other EU states and outside of the EU and develop policy positions for the IRC on refugee resettlement.

I also provide training on resettlement, family reunification and intercultural support work to staff/organizations and volunteers working with resettled refugees. I am also managing a project training interpreters and community intercultural support workers on best practice interpretation and cultural mediation in the asylum process. In conjunction with my work in the IRC, I am pursuing a PhD research in International Peace Studies at Trinity College Dublin. The research is on the role of interpreters in the asylum process. I am a qualified solicitor, I hold a Masters’ degree in International Law and an M-Phil in International Peace Studies from Trinity College Dublin. I recently completed an Advanced Diploma in Refugee and Immigration Law in the Honourable Society of Kings Inns and a Professional Diploma in Human Right and Equality in the Institute of Public Administration (IPA).


Lynn Mills - Religious Studies

PhD Title: Constructions of the Self Through Water and Spirit in the Dead Sea Community at Qumran and the Early Christian Church. I am a Canadian from gorgeous Vancouver Island. I came to academia after many years of working in business and travelling. I have moved around quite a bit in my life, living in a number of places across Canada and the world. I have worked in four continents and eight countries. My work and world experience have been very valuable in my new world of research.

I am a graduate of the MA in Theological Studies program at the Vancouver School of Theology and am currently in my third year of the PhD program in the School of Religion. My research centers on the construction of the self through water and spirit in initiation and cleansing rites of the Second Temple Period. I am deeply interested in ritual and liturgy, particularly the effect on faith, praxis and the psyche. Under the supervision of Dr. Benjamin Wold, I have just finished the first part of my thesis which centered on the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Community of Qumran and am now researching the role of Spirit in the New Testament.


Thomas Alun Morgons - Theology (Loyola Institute)

PhD Title: Transformations in the Qumran Aramaic and Old Greek Versions of Job and Leviticus. My doctoral research compares the translation technique of the Qumran Aramaic and Old Greek Versions of Job and Leviticus. Thereby, I seek to elucidate the trans-linguistic similarities and differences between the earliest known translations of biblical texts which date from the Second Temple period.


Lida Naeim – Religious Studies

I am a PhD candidate and my research title is ‘The Refugee Crisis as a Moral Political Challenge. A Comparison of the Approaches of H. Arendt, S. Benhabib and O. O’Neill.’

The Refugee Crisis in Europe has led to a new debate on obligations and rights, on polarity and stability of societies committed to dignity, liberty and equality. My goal in this thesis is to analyse the contribution of the three philosophers in this context, by discussing the background of their approaches. Each of the listed thinkers considers elements from Aristotelian and Kantian ethics, such as the understandings of virtue and justice, the good and the right, community and the will to live together. In my research dissertation, I am examining the problems caused by the present wave of refugees and its consequences for European societies. My specific background as a refugee from Afghanistan, who grew up in Germany has given me an insight in what it means to start a new life as a refugee in a European country.


Kate Oxsen - Theology (Loyola Institute)

Building on my previous interest in the representation of gender in the Hebrew Bible (HB), this project is focused on the depiction of the three most prominent royal women in the HB: Bathsheba, Jezebel, and Esther.

These characters have received varying degrees of scholarly attention in their own right. However, a dearth of extended depictions of royal women elsewhere in the HB suggests the merits of a reading strategy which explores the relationship between the narrative accounts of these three women.


Oana Sanziana Marian - Theology (Loyola Institute)

Title: ‘Just the Vessel with the Wine in It’: Christianity’s Social Performances, Poetry’s Sacramental Refusals, and the Theology of Willie James Jennings. My research examines poetic modalities and potentialities in contemporary theological writing (particularly that of the contemporary American theologian Willie James Jennings), and theological dimensions of poetry and poets working, consciously or unconsciously, to rehabilitate diseased and distorted understandings of intimacy within what Jennings calls 'Christianity’s social performances.'

The nature of the distortion is racial and gendered, a diseased understanding of self and other, including understandings of self and land, self and animals, and self and community -- in the language of Martin Buber, ‘I-it,’ instead of ‘I-Thou’ ways of relating to the not-me, including a divine not-me that people call God. A basic premise of this research is that, without an understanding of the centrality and necessity of intimacy – and the way intimacy has been distorted – Christian theological projects, even those driven by liberationist impulses, are stuck in an endlessly creative, ultimately futile, episodic repositioning.


Jennifer Sargent-Matchain - International Peace Studies

In the context of global social, political, economic and environmental stresses, my research seeks to establish concrete links between Conflict Transformation theory and Permaculture design as an alternative to traditional peacebuilding approaches implemented by policymakers. The main objective of this research is to analyse whether Permaculture principles and practice can contribute to the positive transformation of structural, cultural and direct violence.

My research compares a Permaculture project in Palestine with one in Zimbabwe as well as other initiatives in conflict-torn countries. My research interests include design thinking, complexity theory, degrowth, grassroots and indigenous movements, neurohumanities and ecological resilience alongside issues of environmental stresses, scarcity and their relationship with violence.

I have worked as a teaching assistant at the School of Ecumenics and the Sociology department. I am a recipient of a Studentship Award from the School of Religion, Peace Studies and Theology at Trinity and the Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología Mexico.


Eric Scanlon - International Peace Studies

I am a PhD candidate of Peace Studies. I have a BA in International Relations and an MA in Development Studies. My PhD research investigates the emerging and understudied role that foreign political parties played, and are continuing to play, in peace processes to end civil wars since the end of the Cold War. My research builds on existing theories and models of conflict resolution, but also establishes that there is a current research gap regarding the involvement of foreign political parties, and it academically examines this emerging trend.

The purpose of my research is to understand why certain foreign political parties, primarily those who have been connected to insurgent groups, are becoming formally involved in contemporary peace processes, what role they are playing, and if their involvement is having any impact. I contend that this emerging trend impacts important aspects of contemporary peace processes – the role of third parties; the transition of rebel groups from conflict to democratic politics; and the hybridisation of the liberal peace.


Elena Schaa - Religious Studies

Following my BA in the Study of Religion and History (Basel), I completed a MA in the History and Philosophy of Science (Vienna) and worked as a student assistant. My main research interests include [1] the relationships between religion/s and modern physics, [2] the aesthetics of religion/s and science, [3] theoretical and methodological approaches in the European History of Religion and the history of science, [4] the asymmetrical gender conception of scientists.

In my MA thesis, I associated systems theory and Derridean deconstruction to explored the concept of distance between the researcher and the researched, which is thought to facilitate the production of new and true knowledge. Currently, I work on the relationships between religion/s and quantum physics in Werner Heisenberg’s writings. In my PhD project, I examine: [1] how Heisenberg answers to contemporary changes in science and society in his “religious writings”, [2] the impact his writings had on the narratives of the evolution of modern physics, as well as on our contemporary understanding and forms of religion/s (e.g. complementarity and harmony between religion/s and science or different forms of mysticism), [3] the aesthetics of knowledge and Sinn, as well as the ways they inform emerging worldviews.


Lorri Annastasia Stewart - International Peace Studies

Recent Awards: Master of Philosophy (MPhil) in International Peace Studies 2017 Thesis Title “Examining the Complex Intersection of Small Island Environmental Resource Conflicts, Indigenous Rights and Traditional Knowledge: Investigating the Case of Native Hawaiians and Natural Resource Conflicts.”

My personal philosophy and passion are to actively discover ‘my truth’ I must study, practice and live the subject. This usually involves immersion in communities, cultures and people’s lives to truly understand my current focus. I have explored human health and at-risk youth outreach, then yoga, healing and meditation, followed by Chinese, Japanese and Taoist holistic science and practices. Currently, my focus is on the ancient knowledge of contemporary Indigenous peoples. I explore how their traditional knowledge of caring for and connection to their environment, influences natural resource conflict and modern conservation efforts. It is a fascinating experience, filled with amazing people as I garner new insights daily.


Chelsea Wilkinson - International Peace Studies

My academic background consists of religious studies, psychology, conflict transformation, and the expressive arts. I earned my master’s degree in Expressive Arts and Conflict Transformation at the European Graduate School in Saas Fee, Switzerland where I examined the peace-building potential of mobile arts in increasing meaningful intergroup contact in geopolitical, religious and ethnic conflicts. Ultimately, my research goals are to further bridge the practice of expressive arts with conflict theories to address deeply rooted systemic issues such as racism, xenophobia, and sectarianism in societies around the world today.