Dr Helen Berents

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Senior Lecturer, Faculty of CI, Education & Social Justice

Doctor of Philosophy (International Relations) (University of Queensland)

Helen's research is interested in representations and participation of children and youth in peace and conflict, everyday approaches to peacebuilding, and local-global relations in peace and security governance. Helen's work draws on feminist international relations, critical security studies, and sociology to explore these issues. Her work is motivated by a genuine belief in the importance of recognising the contributions and capacities of children and youth in navigating violence and building peace.

Helen is currently an Australian Research Council DECRA Fellow on the project Youth Leadership and the Future of Peace and Security examining youth advocacy and engagement in the context of the UN's emergent Youth, Peace and Security Agenda. Her research is centrally concerned with both representations of young people in contexts of crises and conflict, and with engagements with the lived experience of violence-affected young people. She has also developed research projects on the role of popular culture and social media in the representation and mediation of understandings of political crises and conflicts. Broadly, she is interested in questions of how people are rendered insecure by institutions of authority and power, how young people are politicised but not seen as political, and how feminist and narrative methodologies open space to find the everyday within these explorations.

Helen has a PhD (International Relations) and a BA (Honours, first class, in Anthropology and Peace and Conflict Studies) from the University of Queensland. Her dissertation sought to better account for conflict-affected young people's lived experiences of insecurity and violence and their contributions to peacebuilding in their everyday lives. This work was based on fieldwork conducted in Colombia with internally displaced youth. It has been revised and published as Young People and Everyday Peace in 2018. Helen also has a Graduate Certificate in Academic Practice (QUT, 2016), and is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA)

Research Interests:

  • youth, peace and security
  • youth political engagement
  • peace and conflict studies
  • feminist peace studies
  • critical security studies
  • Latin America, with focus on Colombia
  • research ethics

Additional information

Academic Honours, Prestigious Awards or Prizes
Reference year
I received the 2015 Cynthia Enloe Award from the International Feminist Journal of Politics for my article "Hashtagging Girlhood": #IAmMalala, #BringBackOurGirls and gendering representations of global politics". The award recognises exceptional quality in a paper submitted to IFJP by an emergent scholar. It is given annually in honor of Cynthia Enloe¿s pioneering feminist research into international politics and political economy, and her considerable contribution to building a more inclusive feminist scholarly community.
Academic Honours, Prestigious Awards or Prizes
Reference year
My dissertation was awarded the University of Queensland Dean's Award for Research Higher Degree Excellence in 2013. The award is given annually to no more than the top 10% of PhDs awarded across the university.
Youth Leadership and the Future of Peace and Security
Primary fund type
CAT 1 - Australian Competitive Grant
Project ID
Start year