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Dr Ute Kelly

Associate Professor

Faculty/Dept/School School of Social Sciences
(Faculty of Management, Law and Social Sciences)


I am an Associate Professor in Peace Studies and based in the Division of Peace Studies and International Development, working part-time.

In the other half of my time at the University, I am currently seconded to the role of Associate Dean for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion at the Faculty of Health Studies

Over the years, I have been involved in teaching and research on a range of issues within what I have seen as a broad interdisciplinary field concerned with contested values and attempts to put them into practice. Much of my work has revolved around the question of how to encourage meaningful conversations about difficult and potentially divisive issues. Currently, I am trying to encourage such conversations on our individual and collective responses to climate change, ecological crisis and the social justice issues they raise, on difference, otherness and inequalities within and beyond the University, and on how, in difficult times, we might cultivate and practice 'the moral imagination' in ourselves and others.


Currently, my research focuses on two main areas of activity:

Against the backdrop of the converging ecological, economic and social challenges we now face, I am interested in exploring the communicative and collaborative dimensions of resilience, the relationships between people and the places in which they find themselves, and approaches to enhancing resilience at different levels and in a range of contexts. This has included a grounded exploration of discourses of 'resilience', work on local food initiatives, and field research exploring community-based responses to the Boxing Day 2015 floods in the Calder Valley, West Yorkshire. Currently, I am involved in a three-year action research project commissioned by the Environment Agency for England and Natural Resources Wales that has been exploring how to engage communities at risk of increased flooding and coastal change in the UK in difficult conversations around longer-term adaptation challenges. Work on this project (with Rhys Kelly and Icarus) began with an extensive evidence review that identified a number of engagement challenges and potential approaches. Following this, our work with two pilot locations has included designing a set of tools to assess and enhance the readiness of professionals, stakeholders and communities to engage in critical conversations around climate adaptation. All of this work has been disseminated among relevant communities of practice. Currently, we are working on several spin-off projects, including a readiness assessment process for the government-funded Flood and Coastal Resilience Innovation Programme and, with HEIF funding, a role play simulation for UK coastal contexts.

As part of my own reflective practice, I have also been engaged in research around questions of pedagogy. This includes several co-authored pieces (with Rhys Kelly) on the implications of climate change and ecological crisis for our field and experiments with opening up difficult conversations around these issues with our students. With a group of Peace Studies alumni, I have engaged in a project exploring how we might encourage more honest explorations of challenging dynamics of privilege, difference and otherness within and beyond the University. At the moment, I am finalizing a book chapter reflecting on recent teaching for an edited collection on post/critical peace education, based at the Cambridge Peace and Education Research Group. In both format and content, this piece of work is an exploration of emerging interests in creative and trauma-informed pedagogic practices that I am hoping to develop further, both via my own teaching and through associated research and creative writing.

Date Role Title / Description Funder Award
01-MAR-18 - 30-SEP-21Joint Principal InvestigatorWorking together to adapt to a changing climate: flood and coast
- Joint Principal InvestigatorUnderstanding and developing ‘readiness’ for climate change adaptation planning in contexts of uncertainty
- Joint Principal InvestigatorUsing Simulation Methods to Engage Coastal Communities in Conversations about Climate Adaptation
- Co-InvestigatorConnected Communities: understanding communities in their historical and cultural contexts and their role in sustaining and enhancing quality of life


Teaching interests

My teaching aims to encourage students to explore discourses and practices of peace, resilience, social justice and conflict engagement. This includes critical reflection on the assumptions, values and personal experiences that we bring to our study of these questions. My approach to teaching values reflective practice, dialogue about questions that matter, careful engagement with a range of perspectives within and beyond the classroom, and the development of 'the moral imagination', and I try to create learning experiences that encourage these qualities and dispositions. 

Teaching highlights

Over the last couple of years, I have particularly enjoyed bringing more reflective, dialogic and creative approaches into my teaching. These have included hands-on explorations of metaphors of conflict and peacebuilding, interactive exhibitions, creative writing and collaborative autoethnography projects.

For some reflections on my own learning from these experiences and an attempt to broaden the dialogue beyond the classroom, see my personal blog at

Professional activities

  • Member of the Education Working Group, Permaculture Association
  • PSA ‘participatory and deliberative democracy’ specialist group
  • Transition Research Network
  • Presentation and facilitation of discussion at Quaker Regional Gathering, Liverpool, November 2015
  • Presentations to Calder Valley Food Folk and Calderdale Food Network, 2017
  • Presentation and discussion at PPC Thinkspace, Bradford, December 2015
  • Contribution to panel discussion at Bradford Literature Festival, 27th May 2016.


Peer Reviewed Journal
TitleResilience, Solidarity, Agency: Grounded Reflections on Challenges and Synergies (2017)
AuthorsKelly, Ute; Kelly, Rhys H.S.
TitleTowards Peaceful Adaptation? Reflections on the purpose, scope, and practice of peace studies in the 21st Century (2013)
AuthorsKelly, Rhys H.S.; Kelly, Ute
TitleAn education in homecoming: peace education as the pursuit of 'appropriate knowledge' (2013)
AuthorsKelly R.;Kelly U.
JournalJournal of Peace Education
TitleDiscourse Ethics and 'the Rift of Speechlessness': The Limits of Argumentation and Possible Future Directions. (2006)
AuthorsKelly, Ute
TitleReflections on the Position(s) of Peace Studies (2002)
AuthorsBuhler, Ute
JournalPeace Review
TitleWho Are We Talking to? An Addendum to Recent RIS Contributions on Discourse Ethics (2002)
AuthorsBühler, Ute
JournalReview of International Studies
Other Journal
TitleStudying Dialogue - Some Reflections (2013)
AuthorsKelly, Ute
PublisherJournal of Dialogue Studies
TitleParticipation 'with Justice and Dignity': Beyond the 'New Tyranny' (2002)
Authors Bühler, Ute
Book Chapters
TitleBecoming vulnerable in the era of climate change: Questions and dilemmas for a pedagogy of vulnerability (2020)
AuthorsKelly, Ute and Kelly, Rhys
JournalPedagogy of Vulnerability
PublisherInformation Age Publishing
TitleAn Education in Homecoming: Peace Education as the pursuit of Appropriate Knowledge (2017)
AuthorsKelly, Ute and Kelly, Rhys
JournalPeace Education: Past, Present and Future
TitleConfrontations with power: Moving beyond the tyranny of safety¿ in participation¿ (2005)
AuthorsKelly, Ute
Conference Contributions
AuthorsKelly, Ute
AuthorsKelly, Ute
AuthorsKelly, Ute
AuthorsKelly, Ute and Kelly, Rhys
AuthorsKelly, Ute
AuthorsKelly, Ute and Kelly, Rhys
AuthorsRhys Kelly, Ute Kelly
Published Reports
TitleCommunity Engagement on Climate Adaptation: An Evidence Review (2019)
AuthorsRhys Kelly, Ute Kelly
PublisherEnvironment Agency
TitleExperiences of Transition Research: Report for AHRC Connected Communities: “Connection, Participation and Empowerment in Community-Based Research: the Case of the Transition Movement”. (2013)
AuthorsRhys Kelly, Ute Kelly
TitleCivil society supporting dialogue and deliberation: Report for Carnegie UK’s Commission of Inquiry into the Future of Civil Society in the UK and Ireland (2010)
AuthorsKelly, Ute with Cumming, Lisa
PublisherCarnegie UK
Title‘What Kind of Talk Does Resilience Need?’, (2009)
AuthorsUte Kelly, Steve Smith, Rhys Kelly
Other Publications
Other typeBlog
Titleon seeds, weeds, seasons and a sense of home (2019)
AuthorsUte Kelly
Other typeBlog
Titleon and on and on and on: in appreciation of Greta Thunberg (2019)
AuthorsUte Kelly
Other typeBlog
Titleexplorations of otherness (2019)
AuthorsUte Kelly
Other typeBlog
Titleadverse childhood experiences and some of the questions they ask of us (2019)
AuthorsUte Kelly
Other typeBlog
TitleACEs in Higher Education: Lived realities, academic insights and raising awareness (2019)
AuthorsUte Kelly & Juleus Ghunta
Other typeBlog
Titlean introduction (2019)
AuthorsUte Kelly
Other typeBlog
Titlewhy 'from the honesty box'? (2019)
AuthorsUte Kelly
Other typeBlog
Title‘soft options’? reflections on an absence of men (2019)
AuthorsUte Kelly
Other typeBlog
Titleon performances, real life, silencing and voice (or: what are we here for?) (2019)
AuthorsUte Kelly
Other typeBlog
Titleout of our hands? (2019)
AuthorsUte Kelly
Other typeBlog
TitleWhy We're Not Ditching Resilience Yet... (2015)
AuthorsUte Kelly & Rhys Kelly