Request for Applications: Become a XCEPT Conflict and Climate Research Fellow: Apply!!

The Cross-border Conflict Evidence, Policy and Trends (XCEPT) research programme is seeking applications for a Conflict and Climate Research Fellow. 

In XCEPT’s effort to build an impactful body of work at the intersection of climate and conflict, the Research Fellowship will sit alongside a body of research conducted under an XCEPT Fund award, see separate Request for Applications here.

The deadline for applications for this Research Fellowship is 23:59 BST on Monday, 19 August 2024.

I. The Cross-Border Conflict Evidence, Policy and Trends (XCEPT) research programme seeks applications from established academics and experts with a track record of journal-quality, policy-relevant publications to lead and develop programme research and outreach. XCEPT Research Fellows will play a central role in drawing out cross-cutting findings and comparative themes arising from XCEPT research on Africa, the Middle East and South and Southeast Asia and will help generate new knowledge on more effective responses to conflict, including through contribution to impactful research outputs. Research Fellows will be supported under part-time arrangements (20-60% of full-time employment) for a duration of one to two years to serve as thought leaders for XCEPT, with the potential for extension. Research Fellows can be based anywhere in the world. XCEPT will fund occasional travel for key research meetings and events, and will support entry visas as needed.

II. XCEPT brings together world-leading experts and local researchers to examine conflict-affected borderlands, how conflicts connect across borders, and the drivers of violent and peaceful behaviour. Funded by UK International Development, XCEPT offers rigorous, actionable public-good research to inform policies and programmes that support peace. Research on cross-cutting issues, such as gender, equality, and social inclusion, is a programme priority.  

III. XCEPT Research Fellows will lead and develop XCEPT research within three broad areas of thematic focus: 

  • Conflict and climate across borders 
  • Stability and governance in borderlands 
  • Enablers of conflict and peace across borders  

IV. We anticipate assigning one Research Fellow to each theme, with the potential for two Fellows within a theme if the subject matter is distinct. Depending on a candidate’s availability and interests, XCEPT Research Fellows may focus their collaboration with XCEPT on expert consultation, thought leadership, research agenda setting, and development of outputs – such as a special issue volume or other thematic research publication. Paragraphs V – X below outline the general role and responsibilities of an XCEPT Research Fellow and describe additional programme support for XCEPT-funded research undertaken by a Fellow. Paragraph XI outlines the expertise sought by XCEPT for a Fellow under the theme of ‘conflict and climate across borders’, the thematic focus of this XCEPT Research Fellow solicitation.

V. Fellows will play a central role in setting the research agenda within each theme, with a focus on building the evidence base for more effective international responses to instability across borders and the transnational dimensions of conflict. This may include engagement with policy, expert and academic communities, and authorship of evidence reviews, syntheses, policy briefs or learning outputs to help identify knowledge and evidence gaps that inform XCEPT Research Fund (XRF) research commissioning within each theme. As experts in their field, Fellows will help guide development of thematic calls for research through the Fund and serve as expert reviewers of XRF research. Fellows likewise will play a key role in bringing XRF and other programme research together in a special issue volume, as relevant and in accordance with a research and thought leadership plan agreed upon at the start of each fellowship award.

VI. XCEPT Research Fellows undertaking XCEPT research during their tenure with the programme will be supported to deliver mixed-methods research, including budget for field data collection and the use of remote methods (e.g., satellite and signals data) and big data and artificial intelligence (AI), as appropriate and subject to panel review of proposed research. Fellows pursuing XCEPT research will be expected to produce journal-quality papers and other policy and public good outputs associated with XRF awards. Fellowship awards will be constructed to support the time applied to informing XCEPT research development and uptake as well as XCEPT research undertaken. 

VII. XCEPT Research Fellows will serve as members of the XCEPT Research Leadership Group (RLG), a collaborative assembly of lead researchers from among the programme partners that meets quarterly to coordinate on research and uptake. XCEPT Research Fellows may be positioned to lead learning sessions and the development of outputs that draw on programme research. 

VIII. XCEPT Research Fellows will play a key role in private and public uptake of programme research, including engagement with an array of policy stakeholders – in HMG and among the UK government’s bilateral and multilateral partners – and the academic and practitioner communities. Research Fellows may serve in both enabler and expert presenter roles in these engagements. 

IX. XCEPT Research Fellow responsibilities will include:

  • Developing the XCEPT research agenda through expert consultation and authorship of relevant research reviews, syntheses, and/or thematic papers. 
  • Leading independent research on XCEPT themes, to be published in a relevant journal. 
  • Synthesising XCEPT programme research, with the potential to develop an XCEPT special issue volume. 
  • Shaping XCEPT Research Fund thematic commissioning and participating in award evaluation and review. 
  • Participating in and, as relevant, facilitating discussion among the XCEPT Research Leadership Group to develop cross-cutting XCEPT outputs and engagements that impact policy, practice and academic discourse. 
  • Presenting XCEPT research in academic, public and policy spheres, including representing the programme at high-level international conferences. 
  • Expanding XCEPT research networks, leveraging professional connections in policy and academia. 
  • Advising XCEPT researchers in delivery of rigorous research and quality assurance of outputs.

X. Person Specification:

  • Specialist expertise and ability to provide rapid insight, independent challenge and thought leadership. 
  • Advanced degree, preferably a doctorate, in a relevant discipline such as international affairs, international development, or political science, with a focus on research in fragile and conflict-affected settings.  
  • For research under themes of ‘stability and governance in borderlands’ and ‘conflict and peace enablers across borders’, in particular, the priority areas of XCEPT geographic focus are the Middle East and North Africa, the Horn of Africa, West Africa and the Sahel, and/or South and Southeast Asia. Fellows with expertise in other geographies will also be considered. 
  • Minimum of 10 years progressively responsible professional experience in academia, policy, or international development practice. 
  • Demonstrated thought leadership across academic, policy, and practitioner communities to achieve actionable outcomes in development and conflict settings.  
  • A strong track record of academic publications, including in top-tier peer-reviewed journals. 
  • Track record of delivering actionable research for high-level policy audiences. 
  • Expertise in mixed-methods research, in particular the design and implementation of research in conflict-affected settings. 
  • Experience supporting researchers of varied experience and backgrounds, including researchers originating from non-Western contexts, working in unstable areas, or operating with limited institutional support. 
  • Strong communication and interpersonal skills. 
  • Ability to review and critically appraise data and empirical literature to an academic standard. 
  • Familiarity with diverse research methods a plus, including the use of satellite and other open data and AI capabilities. 

XCEPT Research Fellow on Conflict and Climate Across Borders 

XI. XCEPT seeks a Research Fellow to support and lead research development, commissioning, and uptake under the theme of ‘conflict and climate across borders’. The XCEPT Research Fellow should demonstrate a track record of research on responses at the intersection of climate change and violent conflict. XCEPT is particularly interested in Research Fellows who can provide thought leadership and support in the development and uptake of research focused on analysing solutions and examining response options from both sides of the climate-conflict nexus – be it the implications for conflict of interventions geared toward adapting to or mitigating the effects of climate change, or the climate implications of interventions aimed at preventing, stabilising and resolving conflict.

XII. Much research to date on climate change and violent conflict focuses on analysis of the problem, unpacking the complex causal relationships between the two. The XRF is interested in developing research focused on analysis of solutions, to help inform policy and programming responses. This may require building on and/or building out research to disentangle interactions between climate change and conflict, but with a clear view to addressing response options. Research may approach solutions from both sides of the climate-conflict nexus: be it the conflict implications of interventions to adapt to or to mitigate the effects of climate change, or the climate implications of interventions to prevent, stabilise and resolve conflict. XCEPT recognises that climate and conflict objectives at times conflict and, conversely, that opportunities exist to leverage climate interventions for peacebuilding purposes, and vice versa. Moreover, both conflict and climate are part of complex cross-border systems, and so interventions in either area may affect countries and regions far beyond the place where the intervention was focused, through flows of trade, money, people and shared natural resources.  

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How to Apply

XIII.  To apply, please submit the following documents by 23:59 BST on Monday, 19 August 2024. The documents should be submitted via email to [email protected] and the subject title should include ‘Research Fellow: XCEPT Conflict and Climate Research Fellow Application’. 

  • CV. Submitted CVs should include links to published materials.  
  • Letter of motivation. Letters of motivation should be no longer than 2 pages and should address the following: 
  1. Your interest in the role;
  2. Your experience and area of research interest within climate and conflict; 
  3. Proposed amount of time available (percentage of full-time employment available);  
  4. Details on proposed areas of focus during your tenure as Climate and Conflict Research Fellow. Please note that applicants proposing a lower percentage of time will be expected to prioritise expert consultation and thought leadership, with opportunity to develop outputs and research at the higher end. Given your availability and interests, please outline the activities and research areas you would like to focus on as a Fellow.  

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