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Dr David Roberts PhD in International Peacebuilding; BA (Hons.) International Relations and Politics

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Senior Lecturer of International Relations

David Roberts studied International Relations with an emphasis on the developing world. Inspired by a tutor, David undertook and completed a PhD on peacebuilding in Cambodia, at the time of biggest ever post-Cold War United Nations peacekeeping operation. His research centred on why the Khmer Rouge guerrillas refused to participate in the peacebuilding operation, aand he followed his thesis up with investigations into leading Khmer Rouge officers, including Ieng Sary, on trial for crimes against humanity until his death in 2013.

David teaches undergraduate introductions to International Relations, Third World Politics, and on the violent impact of global politics on the most vulnerable people in the world. He teaches a specialist module on peacebuilding at Masters level, and supervises doctoral candidates in the same.

David was appointed in January 2015 Honorary Research Fellow at the Archbishop Desmond Tutu Centre for War and Peace Studies, Liverpool Hope University. He is presently pursuing research on how and why people resist democratization, and why democracy often 'fails to take' when attempts are made to plant it in places emerging from conflict. David is the editor of a new research volume on peacebuilding: Roberts (2014) Liberal Peacebuilding and the Locus of Legitimacy (Routledge); and the author of a recent research monograph: Roberts (2011) Liberal Peacebuilding and Global Governance: Beyond the Metropolis (Routledge). He is also the author of a book concerning how Liberal power excludes, marginalises and destroys human and planetary life because of its limited acceptance of what violence is: Roberts (2010) Global Governance and Biopolitics: Regulating Human Security (Zed). David is undertaking biographical research on the Algerian and Viet Namese prostitutes working for the French Army at the Battle of Dien Bien Phu in VIet Nam, 1954. This continues his themes of feminist research and the heairng of silenced voices in the postcolonial world.

David is presently researching more effective methods of large group teaching, based on the time-honoured principle that a ‘picture paints a thousand words’. He is pioneering a radical transformation of Multimedia Learning (MML) platforms like PowerPoint and Prezi, centring literal and figurative imagery and reducing visible text. This is proven empirically to generate greater engagement and comprehension in students.

The method works by reducing the load on students’ short term memory (like RAM in a PC) and optimizes our capacity for learning visually. Most lecture slides are filled with bullet points and text, otherwise known as ‘Death by PowerPoint’. This approach overloads our auditory capacity, and at the same time, underexploits our visual processing ability. ‘Flipping’ how we use PowerPoint, so we use sophisticated, full-slide images and very little visual text, exploits our visual processing, reduces short-term memory overload and creates a space in which deeper connection, engagement, comprehension and learning can happen.

David is leading Participatory Action Research with his own volunteer students to assess the effectiveness of such image use in conveying complex learning. His work is blogged by the Higher Education Academy, and he consults to leading Universities in the UK, Europe and the US.

David is primarily concerned with how to help create peaceable societies in spaces emerging from conflict. His research interests revolve around postcolonial and radical feminist approaches to ‘knowing’ the Other. He has instigated a research website, the Hearing Voices Project, which aims to elicit from indigenous people their preferences and priorities in peacebuilding situations. His approach is concerned with the people in whose name we build peace, who often don’t want the kind of peace we build.

David is also concerned with the nature and impact of structural violence on humanity. He has researched extensively the role of Liberal ideology in the avoidable deaths of millions of infants in the underdeveloped and overdeveloped worlds. The understanding of the idea of ‘unintentional deprivation’ at the human level is what inspired his research on conflict transformation.