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The United Nations (UN) is undoubtedly a force for good – but could they be more effective? Since her role as a political officer in the UN’s peacekeeping mission in DR Congo, Professor Sarah von Billerbeck has been investigating how the UN could be more effective in achieving lasting peace.

Funded by the UK Economic and Social Research Council, Sarah’s recent collaborative project explores the ways in which peacebuilding may unintentionally enable authoritarian tendencies. Significantly, this work provides a ground-breaking framework for policymakers and practitioners involved in peacebuilding, offering key considerations and suggested approaches to planning future interventions.

As co-founder of UN and the Global Order Programme, Sarah champions open dialogue between academics and policymakers to respond to the key challenges faced by the UN and global governance systems. The programme provides a forum for researchers and practitioners who are studying and working with the UN and other international organizations to explore and learn from in-depth and innovative research and policy engagement.

At Reading students are taught by active researchers and foreign policy professionals, and on Sarah’s module ‘Building Peace’ students evaluate different approaches to helping fragile and conflict-affected states transition to sustainable peace, exploring implications for both policy and practice. During her module ‘Contemporary Diplomacy,’ students learn about both the theory and practice of international diplomacy through exchanges with current and former diplomats or other civil servants whilst engaging in a series of hands-on exercises and simulations.


Dr Robert Jubb

Dr Robert Jubb's areas of interest include methods in analytical political theory and philosophy and responsibility for and appropriate responses to structural injustice. His research feeds into undergraduate research-based modules.


Dr Alice Baderin

Dr Alice Baderin is bringing problems of risk and insecurity to the forefront of thinking about social justice, in the third-year undergraduate module that she has designed on risk.
Joseph O Mahony

Dr Joseph O'Mahoney

Dr Joseph O'Mahoney specialises in international norm dynamics, including norms surrounding war and the proliferation of nuclear weapons, in his research and teaching.