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MIDEQ PhD Studentship

MIDEQ PhD Studentship - Evaluating the human and Social Impact of Art for migratory and marginalized people: An Intercultural, mutlilingual Approach to Equity

Information on the School/Research Group

Supervisor - Prof Alison Phipps, Co-Director of MIDEQ – Migration for Development and Equality and the UNESCO Chair in Refugee Integration through Languages and the Arts within the School of Education at the University of Glasgow.

The studentship is collaborative and aligned with the MIDEQ international research hub project, and the Intercultural Dialogue Section at UNESCO’s Social and Human Sciences sector in Paris, in charge of the “Art-Lab for Human Rights and Dialogue” initiative. It will benefit from co-supervision by colleagues within the UNESCO’s Intercultural Dialogue Section, potential internships, and connects the evaluation of leading research on the human and social impact of arts with UNESCO’s role in the 2030 Agenda.

You will be part of a small cohort of research students supervised by Prof Phipps, and join an interdisciplinary team of researchers, artists and professional staff on the largest project on human migration ever funded by the UK Government (MIDEQ), as well as working to translate the findings of your research with MIDEQ into the UNESCO’s Art-Lab.



Project details

This studentship call is an unparalleled opportunity for the right candidate to work alongside an international team of researchers within the largest project on human migration ever funded (MIDEQ – Migration for Equality and Development), UNESCO’s Art-Lab and the UNESCO Chair in Refugee Integration through Languages and the Arts (UNESCO RILA) based at the University of Glasgow.

This collaborative PhD studentship will start in 2020 and be funded for a maximum of 3 years. Though based in the School of Education in the College of Social Sciences at University of Glasgow, the candidate will develop international networks through virtual and in-person visits to our collaborative partners and spend time on attachment at UNESCO Paris, France (up to 3 months over the lifetime of the studentship).

General Overview of Proposed Research:

This research programme is directly connected to work package 11 of MIDEQ (Arts, Creative Resistance and Wellbeing) and the UNESCO RILA Chair. It develops work which has been identified as critical by MIDEQ and UNESCO’s Art-Lab to evaluate the use of creative arts methodologies in social integration work in a range of jurisdictions in the UK and internationally.  The aim of the PhD is to review and critically evaluate arts-based practice and interventions, as well as their potential for scalability and transferability of contexts.

The PhD studentship will be supervised by Prof Alison Phipps, Co-Director of MIDEQ and holder of the UNESCO RILA Chair at University of Glasgow.  The Student will receive additional supervision from colleagues in UNESCO Paris and mentoring from the UNESCO RILA /MIDEQ Research Team at UofG.

The arts have an impact on society: they have the power to evaluate social mores and to change the nature of intercultural dialogue and human behavior. That the arts can introduce unpredictable elements, healing elements and cathartic or critical elements into society has been a continuing thread in human histories of conflict. It is well documented that migration and the intercultural arts which ensue from artistic, linguist and cultural contact have profound transformative effects on societies. The question remains, for practitioners, policy-makers and researchers, however, at both a conceptual/theoretical level and as a pragmatic requirement – how might this be appropriately evaluated in today’s context?

The field of migratory arts and especially the use of artistic and aesthetic approaches has seen a considerable growth in the last five years, especially since the renewed research and humanitarian work with migrants moving from the Global South to the Global North. This work takes many forms (see Phipps 2016) and can range from elite and celebratory artists making art about migrants and areas of protracted conflict, through the refugee-led arts and participatory practices which draw on Paulo Freire, Augusto Boal, amongst others. Often the evaluation by researchers of this work occurs in highly theoretical terms, drawing on aesthetic theory, deconstruction and performativity. In policy environments, however, the work is more usually evaluated in similar ways to outputs of health or economic interventions in development, which use metrics and are subject to positivist paradigms of research.

Throughout the life of MIDEQ a variety of artistic interventions and practice-led approaches will be in play, from the making of comic books, zines and animations of the research undertaken from a large-scale household survey and ethnographic interviewing, through to practice led art production which is embedded into the migration research process.

Simultaneously, UNESCO is launching Art-Lab for Human Rights and Dialogue to bring together examples of practice under the different taxonomies of art-making which provide a point of intercultural dialogue between artists world-wide, engaged in this work. Moreover, Art-Lab intends to encourage humanitarian and development operators to more often use the Arts for human dignity and social inclusion.

Both MIDEQ and UNESCO have noted the need for appropriate, research-led tools for evaluation which can stand alongside and even challenge the dominant use of metrics in evaluating the impact and appropriacy of artistic engagement in refugee settings, and those of protracted or post conflict, as well as in migratory settings and amongst socially and culturally marginalized people. This is true, not least for the upholding of treatises on intangible and tangible cultural heritage.

The PhD research will work in this context to produce a practice and policy-led PhD which:

- reviews the literature on evaluation of the human and social impact of artistic projects especially in migratory and refugee settings, and amongst marginalized groups;

- critiques this literature and demonstrates the strengths and limitations of the present sets of evaluation tools;

- engages in art making with MIDEQ artists in residence and with selected contexts in the Global South, and in Glasgow, aided by both MIDEQ and UNESCO to produce work, and reflect on ways in which this might be evaluated for its impact;

- works through internships with the Intercultural Dialogue section at UNESCO for the Art-Lab initiative in Paris to review and enable the research to inform the policy process and vice versa;

- produces and contributes to tools and manuals such as the “Port-folio of good practices on the Human and Social Impact of the Arts”, the “Art-Lab training tool for development and humanitarian operators”, which can eventually be proposed for adoption, following similar templates to those used for preserving and protecting and evaluating cultural heritage in conflict situations.


The thesis will consist of policy, practice and theoretical exegesis, and will break with the traditional forms of social scientific or arts and humanities PhDs, by taking a practice-led approach.

In particular the thesis will review and work closely with indigenous forms of knowledge, language and practice which are often neither brought to the fore in discussions of migration and which have their own modes of evaluation, which sit at a distance from those of technocratic tools.

Background information on the partners’ related programmes:

UNESCO’s Art-Lab for Human Rights and Dialogue

Using the arts to facilitate national reconciliation processes and transitional justice, to consolidate fragmented societies, to prevent violence and extremism is essential in post-conflict contexts, underprivileged areas and among refugees. Art as a social link is being sporadically used by many civil society operators and UN agencies, without being documented in a centralised way, nor being appropriately acknowledged or systematised as a powerful transformative tool. The healing, reconciling and creative power of art and culture is a catalyst for action, transcending religions, cultures and social divisions. Indeed, throughout history, art has always induced social change.

Art-Lab intends to leverage the power of art (intertwined with artistic freedom and the status of the artists) and intercultural dialogue to promote social justice, to help reconcile fragmented societies and enforce peace-building particularly in post-conflict areas, refugee settings and deprived zones. “Art-Lab” is consistent with a holistic vision of inseparable cultural heritage and social reconstruction processes after dramatic events such as those in Mali, Yemen, or Iraq, as reflected in the Strategy for the reinforcement of UNESCO’s Actions for the Protection of Culture and the Promotion of Cultural Pluralism in the event of Armed Conflict. 

Although the practice of artistic interventions has showed its impact and efficiency[1], development programmes still have no people-based approach considering the human-being at the centre of human development activities to relieve populations in distress.  We are witnessing a lack of systematic collection of practices on the significant contribution to the advancement of human rights by artistic interventions. There are neither guidelines, nor methodological tools or support to maximize the contribution of the arts to human rights and dialogue, although supporting specific artistic interventions in favour of human rights, involving artistic freedom and freedom of expression would promote peace.

The Art-Lab will engage in dialogue with refugees, marginalized people and people surviving in post-conflict situations to explore the potential of the arts to develop stronger resilience-related mechanisms through artistic interventions, and to promote and enhance human dignity, contributing to more-peaceful societies and social justice of the 2030 Agenda. This assumes that artistic interventions are leveraged as an impactful tool to reinforce social cohesion, dialogue and resilience and to initiate transitional justice processes among vulnerable populations such as refugees, underprivileged people and those living in post-conflict areas.

In parallel, a call for young emerging talents will be launched to highlight their work on international platforms and encourage in return their social involvement among their respective communities through the artistic practices.

Through  this  PhD the the conceptualisation of use of the arts to promote ‘integration’, ‘resilience’, ‘wellbeing’ and ‘social cohesion’ will be subject to botpraxis and critical evaluation. In the process we envisage new terminologies replacing those which dominate and codify the policy and academic understanding of arts practice with marginalized peoples. In this way the PhD fits with the mission of UNESCO to build the defences of peace, but not just in the minds of people, but through embodiment and critical interculturality.

Further information available at




[1] Awet Andemicael, Positive energy: A review of the role of artistic activities in refugee camps, UNHCR, Policy Development and Evaluation Service: 2011


Applicants must meet the following eligibility criteria

  • A good first degree (at least 2:1), preferably with a social science and Arts and Humanities component
  • Should have a Masters degree or equivalent experience: this is a 3-year PhD and therefore applicants should not require substantial research training.
  • Demonstrate an interest in, and knowledge of the fields of asylum, refugees and/ or migration especially in contexts of protracted conflict, post-colonial studies, decolonial studies memorial and reconciliation processes
  • Have a good grounding in the use of creative, performing and visual arts in research, ideally as a migrant artist practitioner, who is migration-experienced / post-conflict experienced / intercultural-experienced. A candidate from the Global South would be highly desirable for this position.
  • Have a firm interest in pursuing the philosophical question of how arts interventions might be evaluated and in producing tools and manuals as part of the PhD for use, after due quality control, by UNESCO’s Intercultural Dialogue section - Art Lab.
  • Have an understanding of the role languages play in a range of migration issues.
  • Have an understanding of the concepts underlying intercultural dialogue.
  • The selected candidate will need to travel to visit collaborative partners, so should have no restrictions on them exiting/re-entering the UK. Open to UK, EU and International applicants ready to start PhD in 2020-21.

Award details

The scholarship is available as a +3 PhD programme. The programme will commence in October 2020.  It includes

  • an annual stipend indexed to the RCUK rate (£15,285 full-time rate for 2020-21)
  • 100% tuition fee waiver at the standard Home/EU or International rate
  • students can also draw on a Research Training Support Grant, usually up to a maximum of £750 per year

Additional information

A short list of candidates will be selected by the MIDEQ / UNESCO RILA team at the University of Glasgow, with Professor Phipps.

Interviews will be arranged by Zoom or Skype with UNESCO’s Intercultural Dialogue Section/Art-Lab Paris and UNESCO RILA/MIDEQ team and will cover policy, practice and academic aspects of the proposal.

Interview will take place in March 2020. The successful candidate would have the opportunity to attend the an Art-Lab event in Geneva, early Spring 2020.

Application process

Applicants complete and send the prescribed list of required documentation to include:

  • Application cover sheet
  • Final and current degree transcripts including grades (and an official translation, if needed) – scanned copy in colour of the original document/s]
  • Degree certificates (and an official translation, if needed): scanned copy in colour of the original document/s
  • Two references on headed paper (academic and/or professional) – one must be academic the other can be academic or professional [if required, these can be sent from your referees directly to, with your full name and the scholarship you are applying for as the subject]
  • cover letter detailing the following:
    • Your research interests
    • A detailed course description of your Master's research training
    • Details of any other relevant training and skills you have.
    • Your long-term career goals
    • A short statement (max 1,000 words) explaining how the above fit with, and can add to, the research project
    • A short sample of a practical tool with might be used in Art evaluation with Migrants as a prototype in practice-led evaluation

The cover letter should be a single document document with the file named as follows *Your_Name_Phipps_Education_MIDEQ_date*   

Applicants lodge their application via email: 

Closing Date: 25 March 2020

Selection process

Applications will be assessed by a selection panel and applicants will be notified if they have been shortlisted for interview in April 2020 with interviews taking place soon after.

All scholarship awards are subject to candidates successfully securing admission to a PhD programme within the School of Education under the Supervision of Prof Alison Phipps.  Successful scholarship applicants will be invited to apply for admission to the relevant PhD programme after they are selected for funding.

Key contact/s:

For other information please contact Lauren Roberts (