Profile image of Professor Kelsey Shanks

Professor Kelsey Shanks

GCRF Challenge Leader

Profile image of Professor Kelsey Shanks


Cromore Road Coleraine Co. Londonderry BT52 1SA


Kelsey Shanks is a Professor at Ulster University and the Global Challenges Research Fund Challenge Leader for Education Research within UK Research and Innovation. Her research agenda focuses on the relationship between education and conflict in divided societies, with an exploration of education’s links to post-conflict stabilisation and peacebuilding agendas. She has conducted extensive research in Iraq, along with work in Ukraine, Syria and Somalia.

Kelsey currently holds an AHRC Network Plus Grant, in partnership with the University of Sussex, the University of Nazarbayev University, Kazakhstan and the University of Cape Town, South Africa. The project aims to build capacity and enhance knowledge exchange in Central Asia and Southern Africa on political economy analysis of education systems in conflict affected contexts. The PEER Network (Political Economy of Education Network) will run until January 2024.

Kelsey has also led commissioned research projects for a range of international actors, including OHCHR, UNAMI, UNESCO, UNICEF, USAID and GIZ. She has a demonstrated record of external engagement, having provided guidance and briefings on education, peace and conflict to UN agencies, government bodies and various INGOs, most recently speaking at the Education Cannot Wait Education Forum on Syria and the UNICEF MENA education forum.

Kelsey has a PhD in Political Science from the University of Exeter. Her subsequent academic career has been research focused, with fellowships at the University of York Postwar Reconstruction and Development Unit (PRDU) and the University of Exeter Institute of Arabic and Islamic Studies (IAIS). Kelsey is the author of Education and Ethno-Politics; Defending identity in Iraq (Routledge, 2015) and various book chapters and articles.