Page last updated: 24th October 2012

UNESCO Chair, Professor Alan Smith

Photo of UNESCO Chair and Centre Director, Professor Alan Smith

The UNESCO Chair held by Professor Alan Smith, is located in the School of Education on the Coleraine campus of the University of Ulster.

Established formally in 1999 the Chair has a programme of work in Education for Pluralism, Human Rights and Democracy.

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A Summary of the Work of the Chair

UNESCO Chair in Pluralism, Human Rights and Democracy
University of Ulster

Alan, Director of the UNESCO centre, is a specialist in education and conflict with 25 years experience including responsibility for the management and completion of more than thirty externally‑funded research and development projects. His work includes research on education and the conflict in Northern Ireland, young people’s understanding of human rights and the development of social, civic and political education.

Local Research and Impact

Policy research on education in Northern Ireland has included: evaluations commissioned by charitable and government bodies; policy research for the Department of Education, the NI Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment on themes including community relations policy for schools, integrated education, the development and evaluation of citizenship education; ESRC‑funded research on teacher education; and a research report on selective education (Gallagher and Smith, 2001).

Other research has included a three‑year investigation of ‘Values in Teacher Education’ funded by the UK Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).

Alan was involved in the establishment of integrated (‘desegregated’) schools in Northern Ireland and from 1992–99 was a Nuffield Foundation nominee and the founding chairman of the Northern Ireland Council for Integrated Education (NICIE).

International Research and Impact

Alan has been a British Council visiting research fellow to Nigeria, Indonesia and Hong Kong. He completed an influential report for DfID on ‘Education, Conflict and International Development’ and has completed assignments for DfID, EC, GTZ, International Alert, Save The Children, UNESCO, UNICEF and the World Bank in the Basque Country, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Botswana, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Uganda and Zimbabwe.

He was a UK representative to the Council of Europe on Education for Democratic Citizenship and completed an evaluation of civic education in the Republic of Serbia, funded by UNESCO, UNICEF and the Soros Foundation. He was also a member of an external advisory group established by the President of the World Bank; his work led to a £3 million programme in Education for Pluralism, Human Rights and Democracy at the University of Ulster.

Previous research includes: an EU‑funded investigation of the legacies of conflict in Bosnia and Northern Ireland; and a three‑year grant from DfID for an International Development programme at the University of Ulster; and an advisory role to the EfA Global Monitoring Report on ‘Education and Armed Conflict’ (2011). He is currently undertaking a global study for UNICEF on the role of education in peacebuilding.

Prior Work

Previously Alan has taught in Northern Ireland and Zimbabwe and was a Senior Research Fellow at the University’s Centre for the Study of Conflict.

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Contact Details

Professor Alan Smith

Centre Director


School of Education
University of Ulster
Co Londonderry
BT52 1SA
Northern Ireland


+44 (0)28 7012 3593