Area Academic Contact: Professor Mark Webber, Head of the School of Government and Society, firstname.lastname@example.org
Security is a very broad topic, understood in different ways by different disciplines.
The breadth of Birmingham's expertise in fields related to 'security and conflict' can be seen from this partial list of areas of focus: international relations, strategic studies, peacekeeping, development and post-conflict reconstruction, military history, security technologies from digital security to airport scanning equipment, counter-terrorism and policing, counter-IED simulations and the use of virtual reality in military training, resilience, crime and community justice, defence medicine focusing on battlefield trauma and injuries, food security, energy security, and environmental security / climate change.
Birmingham's researchers have important external relationships with key government partners, including the Ministry of Defence, the NHS, the RAF, the Defence Academy, the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL), DFID, and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. External links also exist with international organisations and foreign governments. The International Development Department (IDD) in the School of Government and Society, for example, has undertaken consultancy for partners such as the OECD, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and authorities in Nepal, South Africa, Sierra Leone and Tunisia.
The range of work - both research and teaching - being carried out across the University can be browsed via the Security and Conflict Hub.
Collaborative links are being actively pursued by a subset of those at the University of Birmingham working in security as broadly defined. These areas are profiled below, and grouped by School. Those interested are encouraged to look at the full range to understand the potential for interdisciplinary work in this area at Birmingham.
School of Government and Society
Conflict and Security Studies - This research group includes the work of newly-appointed Professor of International Security, Stefan Wolff. Professor Wolff is currently leading a project funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) examining UK Conflict Resolution Capacity.
Institutions, Institutional Change and the Defence Policy of the European Union' - This is a major ESRC-funded project led by Professor Anand Menon that examines the role of the European Union in international affairs.
Narratives of Violence in the North Caucasus - This work is led by Dr Cerwyn Moore and is funded by the British Academy. It examines issues of identity and transversal politics.
The journal Civil Wars is located within the School under an editorial team led by Dr Edward Newman.
Russian foreign and security policy - Through the Centre for Russian and East European Studies, the University of Birmingham has a long history of work in this field. The Centre's current Director, Dr Derek Averre, has led a number of projects backed by the UK Ministry of Defence and other sponsors.
The Global Facilitation Network for Security-Sector Reform is directed by Professor Paul Jackson, Head of the Department of International Development. Professor Jackson has also been advising the peace process between the government and the Maoists in Nepal.
The newly-appointed Head of School, Professor Mark Webber, is a specialist in NATO, European security, and Russian foreign policy. He has made a major contribution to the notion of 'security governance'.
School of History and Cultures
The study of war and security is integral to the research and teaching within the School. Staff working in this area have been key to the success of History at Birmingham - History has received a research rating of 5 in all Research Assessment Exercises (RAE). In RAE 2008, 60% of its publications by staff were rated as internationally or globally significant.
The Centre for First World War Studies pursues an interdisciplinary and transnational approach to the history of the Great War. It aims to further our understanding of the seminal conflict of the twentieth century and to contribute to historical and social scientific reflections on the transformations of warfare in the era of ‘total war’. As the centenary of the outbreak of the conflict in 2014 now looms large, the Centre concentrates on three research strands: combat, mobilization, legacies. It intends to play a critical role on the national and international academic stage at a time when the populations of the former belligerent nations reflect upon the contemporary resonance of the war. The Centre is involved in a range of national and international collaborations. Following its recent success in European funding competitions, the Centre will soon boast one of the largest concentrations of First World War historians in Europe and already attracts excellent postgraduate and postdoctoral scholars.
The Centre for Second World War Studies, directed by Professor Gary Sheffield, brings together scholars working on different aspects of the twentieth century's greatest conflict.
Staff on the School maintain active research-focused links with the defence sector. Professor Sheffield acts as advisor to the Concepts and Doctrine Centre at the UK Defence Academy. The Royal Aeronautical Society Senior Research Fellow in Air Power Studies, Air Commodore (ret'd) Dr Peter Gray, has provided expert advice to the House of Commons Select Committee on Defence.
Institute of Archaeology and Antiquity
The Institute of Archaeology and Antiquity hosts the Bloody Meadows Project on historic battlefields directed by Dr John Carman and Patricia Carman, which looks at sites of past conflict both as places of historic interest and of contemporary significance. The international ESTOC (European Studies of Terrains of Conflict) group of leading conflict archaeologists has arisen out of this project.
Ongoing work with the Ename Center, Belgium at the battlefield of Oudenaarde (1708), has led to a collaboration with the Flemish Heritage Institute and the University of Huddersfield to develop an Inventory of Historic Battlefields in Flanders for purposes of preservation and development control.
Other external links include MoD Estates, membership of the Fields of Conflict conference advisory panel, and the CAIRN network of battlefield researchers in all periods.
Centre for the Study of Global Ethics
The Centre for the Study of Global Ethics (CSGE) is a lead partner in DETECTER, a Collaborative Research Project under the European Union Framework 7 Security programme to co-ordinate and contribute work on detection technologies, counter-terrorism, ethics and human rights. It has recently secured EU funding for a new three-year ethics and law project called SURVEILLE. In parallel, the Director of CSGE, Professor Tom Sorrell, is leading a project on 'The Ethics of Border Security' commissioned by Frontex, the European Borders Agency. The Centre is also active in a number of other research projects and is developing work in the following areas:
Ethical evaluation of counter-radicalization measures
Ethical issues in secret intelligence, especially in relation to evidence used in trials
Ethical evaluation of anti-corruption measures
Infiltration and deception in serious crime operations
School of Computer Science
The Formal Verification and Security Group in Computer Science works on the application of formal verification methods to systems and mechanisms of real-world complexity, with special attention to security. It aims to diversify into areas of practical importance to society, industry and government. Academics from the group have participated in funded secondments to industry (Hewlett Packard, 2008) and have obtained funding to investigate problems highlighted by government and industry leaders, including electronic voting (funded by EPSRC, 2009-2012, led by Professor Mark Ryan) and privacy (funded by EPSRC and Google, 2010-2015). Other research includes passport security led by Tom Chothia and the security of electronic voting systems led by Marco Cova.
The Group also coordinates research in security technologies across the University, and has ongoing collaborations with Professor Tom Sorell in Global Ethics (see above). It is also exploring work with engineering on microwaves and radars for remote imaging, and on security systems to protect power grids and other infrastructure.
School of Electronic, Electrical and Computer Engineering
The Human Interface Technologies Team within Electronic, Electrical & Computer Engineering was formed in 2003 and brings together award-winning, multidisciplinary researchers within the Department who focus on theoretical and practical human-centred research issues related to future interactive technologies, including task and usability analyses, human factors integration, ergonomics and the design, application and evaluation of advanced interfaces. The team is renowned for its approach to 'serious gaming', using the latest advances in virtual reality to create synthetic environments to reduce risk during training.
The team has done extensive work for the military around defence human factors, conducting research in the analysis of command and control tasks, network-enabled capability (NEC), situational awareness and synthetic environments (especially as applied to human interface development for unmanned vehicles and defence surgery training), and developing new methods of battlefield information distribution between command centres and field personnel equipped with wearable computing technologies.