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Postdoctoral Scholars underline their commitment to human rights and social justice


1 May 2017

The Scholarships were established in 1964 by a bequest from Dr Thomas Ewing
The Scholarships were established in 1964 by a bequest from Dr Thomas Ewing

Exploring violence against women and reconciliation respectively, 2017 Thomas and Mary Ethel Ewing Postdoctoral Research Fellows, Suzanne Egan and Fernando Serrano-Amaya represent the next generation of research experts in the Sydney School of Education and Social Work, exploring innovative solutions to real-world problems.

Suzanne Egan - Project title:

Neuroscience, trauma and violence against women: Reworking the theoretical/empirical nexus to investigate the governance of contemporary social policy issues

Suzanne said her proposed project aims to explore the effects that the neurosciences have had on policy and provision in relation to violence against women, including within the increasingly popular concept of ‘trauma informed practice’.

“The neuro or brain sciences have increasing explanatory power across a broad range of key social and political issues,” she added.

“My proposed project provides a different lens by examining the ways in which such explanations, have been embedded in an applied field of policy and practice. The research will have utility across a range of professionally orientated disciplines and areas of social policy including education, health, social welfare and criminal justice where neuroscientific approaches to issues of social justice and inequality appear dominant.

“The impetus for my research is not to dismiss the utility that neuroscientific knowledge may bring to social justice issues such as violence against women but to subject it to critical inquiry through examination of how this knowledge has been deployed and used at the practice level.”

Suzanne’s doctoral research, which investigated the trajectory of sexual assault as trauma into feminist sexual assault services, was shortlisted for the Australian Women and Gender Studies (AWGSA) bi-annual PhD award.

She was also awarded a fellowship to attend the Berlin Summer School in Social Sciences and secured competitive funding for a symposium, focusing on the methodological implications of theoretical developments in contemporary feminist scholarship.

“The Ewing Fellowship gives me the opportunity to lay the foundations for an ongoing programme of research which I hope will put me in a competitive position for longer term international and domestic fellowships. Working within the Sydney School of Education and Social Work in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences will provide a research environment where I can collaborate with and draw on the expertise of a range of academics who work across my fields. Because I also completed my doctoral research in here, it means that I can continue to work closely with people who are already familiar with and supportive of my research.”

Fernando Serrano-Amaya - Project title:

Pedagogies of Reconciliation: challenging social injustice and forging new social pacts

Fernando said his project aims to develop a research-based, educational perspective on ‘reconciliation’ in societies.

“It builds on my previous research on political conflict, peace building, gender and sexuality in post-conflict Latin American and in South Africa, though it will have application to Australia and other settler-colonial societies with indigenous peoples,” he said.

“Results of my research will produce recommendations and lessons learnt from experience on how societies deal with past injustices in transitions to democracy and in the promotion of social cohesion after political conflicts.

“Results will be useful to policy makers, civil society organisations and international organisations in the design, monitoring and evaluation of peace education interventions and agendas of social change.”

Fernando is set to publish a book based on his PhD research and hopes the Fellowship will improve his teaching experience, to strengthen his research skills and create new networks of colleagues.

Originally from Colombia, Fernando said he wanted a different academic environment than he was used to in order to complete his PhD.

“I also wanted to be in a University that offered flexibility to develop areas of interdisciplinary studies, like mine. Then I discovered the wide scope of research areas of the Sydney School of Education and Social Work in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at the University of Sydney,” he said.

“It’s a place open for intercultural exchanges and with a broad international community of students. My PhD supervisor and the staff at the School were open to hear my research interests. All these factors made my decision to study here the best decision I could have made.”

The Thomas and Mary Ethel Ewing Postdoctoral Scholarships in Education

The Scholarships were established in 1964 by a bequest from Dr Thomas Ewing and on this occasion are to be awarded to enable postdoctoral scholars to conduct full time research and teaching in the Faculty of Education and Social Work.

Persons eligible to apply for the Award of the Scholarship must be PhD graduates of the University of Sydney in the Faculty of Education and Social Work.