Laura Taylor: Children’s peace building || Career-life balance in academia

In this episode, we spoke with Laura Taylor who is an Assistant Professor at the University College Dublin in Ireland. 

PAST (00:02:00): Laura shares her incredible and winding path into academia, from being part of human rights and peace building work with NGO’s in Guatemala and Nepal, studying and teaching at university, and eventually pursuing a Ph.D. program in both peace studies and psychology. She explains how she ended up focusing on children, mental health, and on the constructive and agentic ways in which children can respond to conflict and violence.

PRESENT (00:14:33): Laura discusses Dahlum’s (2019) article on how young and highly educated people have been structurally part of non-violent protests in the past. Importantly, the non-violent, creative tactics of these young and educated people were more likely to reach social and regime change compared to violent protests throughout history. Laura points out the role of universities and (higher) education in providing capacities, such as critical thinking, civic engagement, and citizenship, that young people can use for constructive social change. 

FUTURE (00:27:00): Laura explains how research culture is slowly shifting towards a better career-life-balance, which is especially important when working in post-conflict societies and with local communities. She elaborates on how cross-cultural and interdisciplinary research teams have helped her achieve this goal, as well as the role of strong leadership in setting boundaries and norms. Most importantly, Laura emphasizes that, at all times, we need to recognize the humanity in ourselves and in our students and colleagues. She finishes with giving hands-on advice on how small changes in routines can contribute to career-life-balance over time.

Full reference of this episode:

*Dahlum, S. (2019). Students in the streets: Education and nonviolent protest. Comparative Political Studies, 52(2), 277-309.

Further recommended reading:

Martín-Baró, I. (1994). Writings for a liberation psychology. Harvard University Press.

McEvoy-Levy, S. (Ed.). (2006). Troublemakers or peacemakers?: Youth and post-accord peace building. University of Notre Dame Press.