Durham Doctoral Studentship Scheme

Arwa Alzraiy

Tell us about your studies

I study the capacities of educational spaces to promote peace and trust through everyday communicative acts. I have been working with the UN since 2015 as a teacher in UNRWA in the Gaza Strip, Palestine. During my work there, I have been trained and I trained others on ‘teaching’ peace and conflict resolutions. As the conflict is becoming more intense, bottom-up approaches to peace and trust education need to be explored since current methods are not achieving much progress.

Congratulations on being awarded the DDS PT. What does this scholarship mean to you?

I applied for the DDS while I was working on my MA dissertation. Overwhelmed by the pressure, I would have not been able to be here without the help of the School of Education and namely my supervisor, Prof Prue Holmes. Being a woman from Gaza, this scholarship means the world to me as only 5% of the academic staff in Palestinian universities are PhD holders and even a smaller percentage are able to study in international universities.  I also aspire that my research would inform education policy reform into more efficient peace and trust education or at least question the implications of the current ones. As I explore the theory of hope as a theoretical framework for understanding the capacities of education to promote peace and trust, I  feel grateful for DDS PT for the hope it has offered me to dream big and extend the lengths of my aspirations.

Why are you so passionate about your area of research?

Growing up in a conflict zone where bombings, occupation, siege and poverty are the status quo would make any person passionate to find an end to all this pain. I remember a while ago right before I came to the UK in 2021 when an air raid took place while I was teaching second graders and we were asked to resume our classes as if nothing had happened. At that moment, I started wondering when did all these atrocities became so mundane? Why do these kids have to go through all of this? And more importantly what could be done to put an end to all of this?

How did you get into your area of research?

Ever since I was a child, I have always been fond of language which inspired me to study English language and education for my BA. During my MA at Durham University, I developed this interest even further taking on modules such as Language, Power and Education.

I think language unravels how people conceptualize life and therefore certain forms of communication can promote peaceful and prosperous societies that are established on social justice and equality.

How does your research influence the school of Education?

I think the school of Education is going to benefit from having a Palestinian who is from Gaza working on the topic of peace education. I have already taken part in a lecture on Education for immigrants and a poster session on intercultural communication. Hopefully, I would benefit them even more as years go by as I have benefitted from the school greatly.

Tell us about a day in the life of a student in the School of Education

I think every PhD student has their own unique experience. Generally speaking, I plan my work by the month which involves registering for sessions with DCAD, attending staff and student seminars at the School of Education and signing up for relevant conferences. As a first-year PhD student, I usually start my day by attending a DCAD session on something related to my study or general academic development. Then, I read the material I have assigned for myself and take notes. Usually, I go for a break with other PhD students in my department or other departments where we talk about how things are going and offer each other support. The last part of the day is writing up; this is where I try to make sense of whatever notes I jotted down. Follow me on Facebook

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Arwa Alzraiy

I'm a PhD student at Durham University in the school of education conducting an interdisciplinary study on the conceptualizations of peace and trust in the Palestinian Ministry of Education and their reflections on students’ daily communicative acts.

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