Teaching for democracy in the absence of transitional justice: the case of Northern Ireland

Elizabeth Anderson Worden, Alan Smith

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21 Citations (Scopus)
476 Downloads (Pure)


In many cases, political circumstances do not allow formal for transitional justice processes to occur in countries undergoing a transition from a violent past. In this paper, we ask if education can become a default front line of transitional justice work in the absence of explicit action by the state to address past injustices. Drawing from interviews with educators and using a new citizenship education programme in Northern Ireland as our case study, we argue that several factors, including organisational constraints within the education system, limit the potential of the programme for supporting transitional justice goals. While the effectiveness in this particular case is limited, Northern Ireland provides an example of a citizenship education programme that has moved away from an emphasis on national identity and embraced human rights. Other divided societies might find this model to be an effective conduit in which to promote transitional justice.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)379-395
Number of pages16
JournalComparative Education
Issue number3
Early online date14 Jun 2017
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 21 Aug 2017


  • citizenship education
  • transitional justice
  • Northern Ireland


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