Education, Occupation & Liberation Programme

The Education, Occupation & Liberation programme marks Fobzu’s 40th anniversary and is co-hosted with the University and College Union (UCU).

The series of lectures and seminars brings together Palestinian, UK and international scholars, students and practitioners to explore the challenges facing Palestinian education and its role in creating a free and flourishing Palestine. Speakers consider the struggle of Palestinian students and educators, approaches to liberation education and the contribution of Palestine to decolonising curricula in the UK.

The Education, Occupation & Liberation programme is made possible thanks to the estate of the late Sarah Hayward.

Access to Education and Dignity for Palestinian Refugees

Christopher Gunness & Caroline Pontefract (UNRWA)

Chair: Dr Joanna de Groot, UCU President (2017-2018)


In the first of Fobzu’s Education, Occupation & Liberation events, UNRWA Chief Spokesperson Christopher Gunness, and Director of Education Dr Caroline Pontefract talk about UNRWA’s role in upholding the rights and dignity of 5 million Palestine refugees through the prism of the young people the agency serves in the West Bank, Gaza, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon.

Traditions of Liberation Education

Professor Karma Nabulsi, Oxford University

Chair: Professor Hugh Starkey, UCL


In this second lecture in Fobzu’s Education, Occupation & Liberation series, Professor Karma Nabulsi addresses the theme of decolonising education. Examining central questions on the requirements of a decolonisation process, Professor Nabulsi locates answers in the vast repository of anti-colonial struggles: the words, ideas, and practices of those who fought for liberation and equality, and against imperialism and colonialism. When looking at their endeavours, it is clear they succeeded by relying on common principles, building an internationalist solidarity with all who faced a common predicament, while possessing a language and a form of struggle that was remarkably creative in dealing with empire. In this lecture, Karma explores one of these remarkable struggles – that of the Palestinian revolution.


Professor Karma Nabulsi is Fellow in Politics at St Edmund Hall, and Director of Undergraduate Studies at the Department of Politics and IR (DPIR) at the University of Oxford. Her research and publications cover 18th and 19th C political thought, the laws of war, and the politics of Palestinian refugees and representation. In 2017 she completed the Palestinian Revolution, a bilingual Arabic/ English digital research and teaching resource on the Palestinian revolution from the 1950s to 1970s, which she directed and co-edited. Sponsored by the British Academy, and hosted at Oxford’s DPIR, the open access digital humanities resource was a collaborative initiative with museums, universities, research institutes, and scholars from across the global south. Last year Karma won the Guardian Higher Education Network’s ‘Inspiring Leader’ Award; she is UCU Equalities Officer at the university.

Palestinian universities under occupation and academic freedom

Dr Mezna Qato, Cambridge University

Professor Roger Heacock, Birzeit University

Dr Adam Hanieh, SOAS

In the third event of the Education, Occupation & Liberation series, Dr Mezna Qato, Professor Roger Heacock and Dr Adam Hanieh examine the continuity and change in structures of control imposed on Palestinian education over the past century and how this has been resisted by Palestinian students and teachers. The event takes place in the context of deteriorating conditions of access for Palestinian higher education under occupation, including

The Psychosocial Health of Palestinian Youth: Occupation and Resistance


Professor Rita Giacaman, Birzeit University

Chair: Professor Ann Phoenix, UCL

In our fourth EOL presentation Professor Rita Giacaman addresses the impact of prolonged military occupation on the wellbeing of young Palestinians. In exploring this issue, Professor Giacaman also considers the positive steps Palestinian youth take to resist the oppressive conditions they face. Decades of studying Palestinian psychosocial health has altered the ways Palestinian researchers have understood and measured wellbeing and these innovations are also addressed in the talk.


Professor Rita Giacaman is founder and Director of the Institute of Community and Public Health (ICPH) at Birzeit University in occupied Palestine. During her four decades of scholarship, she has become one of the leading authorities on Palestinian psychosocial wellbeing and public health. Her influential engagement as a researcher and practitioner in the Palestinian social action movement has led to the development of the Palestinian primary health care model. Since 2000, Professor Giacaman has focused on understanding the impact of chronic war-like conditions and excessive exposure to violence on the health and well-being of Palestinians, especially their psychosocial health under occupation; and ways in which interventions can generate active resilience and resistance, especially among youth. She has published her research widely in international journals and scholarly publications.


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