Culture for Sustainable and Inclusive Peace (CUSP) Network Plus

Culture for Sustainable and Inclusive Peace Network Plus (CUSP N+) draws together non-academic partners in the UK and in low and middle-income countries (Ghana, Mexico, Morocco, Palestine and Zimbabwe) who work with people in different artistic and cultural settings. 

This work is funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) via the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) as part of the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) Collective Programme. The GCRF is part of the UK's Official Development Assistance (ODA). Its aim is to support cutting-edge research that addresses challenges faced by developing countries.

CUSP N+'s aim is to strengthen arts and cultural institutions/organisations in LMICs so they can become a reference point for the identification and transformation of social conflict.

Please visit the main CUSP N+ website

This Network Plus has three strands or phases:

  1. Original research with core partners
  2. Commissioning of research to new partners
  3. Synthesis of insights and knowledge exchange / sharing

CUSP N+ will focus on key issues identified by each partner and context:

(a) fragile, and presently resilient cultural work in communities of the global south;

(b) the arts and cultural work in southern contexts as means to explore and share relevant strategies for conflict prevention and conflict transformation;

(c) the arts and cultural work for the promotion of individual wellbeing and sustainable employment; and

(d) south-south and south-north partnership building and networking towards the sharing of sustainable cultural and governance practices to maximise the reach and usability of digital technologies for artistic sustainability and peaceful cultural change.

Strand 1 CUSP N+ partners will work with artistic and cultural organisations in each location to identify, explore and disseminate culturally- and age-appropriate conflict transformation strategies to achieve positive change in relation to challenges experienced by women and girls. CUSP N+ partners will reflect on and share insights on processes and outcomes.

Strand 2 The portfolio of activities thus developed will be expanded and refined through the commissioning of new research to explore further emerging themes, open questions and 'translatability' of practices to different contexts. CUSP N+ will also engage in ongoing critical reflection on the internal dynamics of the network as it employs conflict transformation strategies also to work collaboratively.

Strand 3 The synthesis of findings, and divergence of approaches, will offer innovative insights in relation to theoretical, methodological and policy-oriented questions. Drawing together expertise from a range of disciplines (i.e. theatre studies; arts practice; languages, literature and cultural studies; gender studies; anthropology; sociology; postcolonial studies) CUSP N+ builds on and expands established academic and non-academic collaborations with a range of partners based in fragile contexts and contexts of conflict and protracted crisis.


Award dates: 1st April 2020 - 30th September 2023

Award value: £1,675,039

AHRC Grant Reference: AH/T007931/1

PI: Professor Alison Phipps

CUSP Primary logo

Our Project Coordination Team

Hyab YohannesDr Hyab Yohannes - Academic Coordinator

Hyab is a Research Associate and Academic with a Ph.D. in the Realities of Eritrean Refugees in a Carceral Age from the University of Glasgow. Hyab has extensive experience in undertaking fieldwork, interviews, critical evaluation and interpretation, computer-based data analysis and evaluation. He brings unique experience and perspective to migration-related policy development and implementation. Hyab’s versatility to translate knowledge across various disciplines and epistemic traditions into research activity enables him to conduct research with a specialism in the subjects of "forced migration", "decoloniality" and international b/ordering. Please visit Hyab’s personal website for his personal story, academic journey, and critical reflections.    


Jennifer McArthurJennifer McArthur - Project Administrator

Jennifer has over five years' experience working in a number of roles across the University of Glasgow, including another large GCRF grant.

She holds a BSc in Information Technology from the University of the West of Scotland.


Dr Maria Grazia Imperiale - Academic Coordinator (2020 - 2021)

Maria Grazia ImperialeGrazia conducts research on peacebuilding and conflict transformation through languages and the arts, and is coordinating the work of our partners in Ghana, Palestine, Morocco, Mexico, UK and Zimbabwe. She is an Associate Tutor in the School of Education and teaches on different Masters’ programmes within the school. 

Her background is in Applied Linguistics and Language and Intercultural Education. Grazia hold a PhD in Language Education (University of Glasgow), and her doctoral research looked at intercultural language education in the context of siege of the Gaza Strip (Palestine). Grazia hold a MA (Hons) in Applied Linguistics and Intercultural Communication (University for Foreigners of Siena, Italy), and a BA (Hons) in Linguistic and Intercultural Mediation (University for Foreigners of Siena). She is CELTA certified (Pass A).  

Grazia worked as Teaching Fellow in Education at the University of Edinburgh, and as Postdoctoral Research Associate on several research projects at the University of Glasgow and at the University of Strathclyde and is a research consultant for the British Council. A qualified language teacher and teacher trainer, she taught Italian and English as foreign languages to different groups (including children, adults, migrants, refugees and asylum seekers, in mainstream schools, private language schools, and academic institutions in Italy, Australia, Lebanon, Morocco, Canada. vk


Who's involved

CUSP N+ Co-Is and Partner Leads

CountryAcademic Co-InvestigatorsCultural / Artistic Partners

Dr Jospeh Teye 
University of Ghana

Nii Tete Yartey 
Noyam African Dance Institute

Dr Cristina Amescua 

Prof Evelyn Arizpe 
Dr Julie McAdam
School of Education
University of Glasgow

Carlos Arias Galindo
IBBY Mexico


Dr Nazmi Al-Masri 
Islamic University Gaza

Reem Abu Jaber
NAWA for Culture
University of Glasgow

Prof Alison Phipps
Dr Giovanna Fassetta
Dr Maria Grazia Imperiale 
School of Education 

Aileen Ritchie
Ignite Theatre Company

Dr Mariangela Palladino 
Keele University, UK

Dounia Benslimane 
Aadel Essaadani 

Chipo Basopo

Chirikure Chirikure
LitFest Harare 


CUSP N+ Main Award

Professor Alison Phipps - Principal Investigator

Dr Maria Grazia Imperiale - Academic Coordinator 

Jennifer McArthur - CUSP N+ Project Administrator 


Development Award and Inception Funding 

Dr Giovanna Fassetta - Principal Investigator / Co-I Main Grant

Lauren Roberts - UNESCO & CUSP DA Coordinator 

CUSP N+ Development and Inception Awards

The Culture for Sustainable and Inclusive Peace Network Plus (CUSP N+) Development Award supported a team of partners in 6 countires to progress a Network Plus proposal to full stage application. £60,000 was awarded to Dr Giovanna Fassetta to develop this collaboration with LMIC partner academic and non-academic institutions/organisations. The CUSP N+ DA ensured creation of a strong proposal to work in the area of conflict transformation through arts and cultural work in communities experiencing tensions and fragility in Ghana, Mexico, Morocco, Palestine, Zimbabwe and in the UK. 

The DA set in place structures and strategies to take forward CUSP activities, should the full proposal be successfull. We took a horizontal, decolonizing approach to collective work right from the very start.  The DA has been supplemented with £100,000 of Inception funding and will run in parallel with the CUSP N+ Main Grant until December 2020, working to strengthen the capabilities of LMIC partner non-academic organisations.

Our inception activities scheduled to take place in Ghana in March 2020 had to be moved online due to the Covid-19 crisis.  Despite the change to plan our partners met virtually to share the information and know-how needed to progress this project, as well as access and shape future GCRF funding. Feedback from LMIC partners has been provided to UKRI via AHRC on ways to make funding calls more responsive to LMIC partners’ ways of working. By focusing on capability building inlcuding for making funding applications, the DA will continue to have a positive impact outside the other activities of the CUSP Networks Plus project. 

Award dates: 1st July 2019 - 30th June 2020 (extended to 31 Dec 2020 due to Covid-19)

Award Value: £60,000 & £100,000 Inception funding

AHRC GCRF Grant Reference: AH/T005424/1

PI: Dr Giovanna Fassetta

CUSP DA award details on Gateway to Research

CUSP Development Award & Inception Activities

More information will be available in due course as activities progress.  However, we foresee that the CUSP Development Award will make a contribution to: 

The welfare of people in CUSP’s LMIC partner countries (i.e. Ghana, Mexico, Morocco, Palestine and Zimbabwe)

1. This will be achieved through the strengthening of academic and non-academic institutions and organisations, in line with SDG 16 (peace, justice and strong institutions) by: 

  • Capacitating local researchers to carry out investigation on conflict transformation and cultures of peace through the mutual design and sharing of full CUSP Network Plus application;
  • Developing peer-learning sessions on decolonising research methodologies during a face-to-face meeting

2. The economic development and the welfare of people in partner LMIC countries, in line with SDG 16, by: 

  • Empowering non-academic partners to actively pursue funding calls to meet the needs and priorities they have identified by sharing knowledge and know-how on UKRI funding requirements and processes 


3. The welfare of women and girls in CUSP partner countries, in line with SDG 5 (gender equality and empower all women and girls) by: 

  • Actively encouraging the participation of women at all stages of the full CUSP Network Plus application Ensuring that LMIC women’s needs and priorities are central to the full development of CUSP Network Plus full application;  
  • Ensuring that the majority of participants at the face-to-face meeting are women