The European Research Council (ERC) has announced the winners of its 2020 Advanced Grants competition. Sule Alan’s project ‘Social Inclusion and the Political Economy of Education: Building Social Capital in Ethnic Diversity’ (INCLUSION) was among the proposals selected for funding, just eight per cent of the applications.
Professor Alan’s project hones in on a set of socioemotional skills that benefit not only those who wield them, but also the community at large. More specifically, her research will test educational interventions aimed at developing children’s capacities for tolerance, non-violence, empathy and prosocial behaviour in the face of diversity.
Character skills that contribute to a child’s success, such as grit, curiosity and creativity, have been a focus of her work for several years.
For the new project, starting October 2021, Alan will implement and test experimental curriculums focusing on inter-ethnic cohesion and inclusion. The randomised, controlled trials will take place in schools in south-east Turkey, where massive inflows of Syrian refugees have abruptly altered the composition of communities.
She finds the public elementary school setting especially effective, as interventions there offer the chance to level the playing field across socioeconomic differences.
“Understanding people who are different from us is a skill, the capacity to be tolerant and non-violent towards others is a skill,” explains Professor Alan. “This research will generate the evidence we need to know what works and what doesn’t. When we see what works, we can design effective policy.”