Pathways people 2

Pathways to Reconciliation


Professor Sandra Jovchelovitch leads this UKRI project to investigate the impact of Schools for Forgiveness and Reconciliation (ES.PE.RE) on the psychological and social wellbeing of victims of the Colombian conflict.

Our aim is to help forge positive coping responses to stabilise communities hard-hit by armed conflict

Professor Sandra Jovchelovitch

Depression, loss of emotional control and feelings of rage are frequent in the reaction to violent and traumatic events. Foregiveness and reconciliation, although difficult to do or maybe even contemplate, can be key in helping to mitigate these effects and can even help contribute to the reconstruction of civil-war-torn societies. 

All our news, events, media and research will be updated online on this page, Twitter @reconciliaLSECo and on the Psychology at LSE blog.


Forgiveness and reconciliation are two central components to build sustainable peace in post conflict societies. Forgiveness allows people to heal the psychological wounds of war, while reconciliation is key to rebuild trust, social ties and cooperation among affected communities, some of whom may have stood on different sides in a given conflict. 

Pathways to Reconciliation investigates the impact of Schools of Forgiveness and Reconciliation (ES.PE.RE), a third-sector programme in Colombia, on the psychological and social wellbeing of victims of the Colombian conflict. More specifically, it studies if and how these ES.PE.RE Schools improve mental health, social capital, and positive lifetracks.

The project adopts a clinical socio-cultural approach to human development under contextual adversity, which we define as environments characterised by poverty, violence and stigma. It explores ‘first hand’ accounts of experiences, meanings and narratives lived by young people and adults from five rural territories heavily exposed to the Colombian conflict. It draws on a multi-method design combining qualitative in-depth interviews with quantitative measurements of mental health, social capital and possible selves.

Pathways to Reconciliation involves an international, multiple stake-holder research partnership, comprising academics and NGOs activists and practitioners from Fundación para la Reconciliation, Fundación Santa Fe de Bogotá and the LSE. It is offering us a rich research experience with non-WEIRD populations (Western, educated, industrialised, rich and democratic) in a challenging context.




We seek to assess the role of participation in ES.PE.RE (Schools for Forgiveness and Reconciliation) in psychological and social wellbeing, defined as mental health, social capital and choosing a fulfilling lifetrack.


This project will impact multiple stakeholders from different sectors of society, including government and policy-makers, communities affected by the conflict and the public at large.

Government and policy

From the policy and governmental sector, we expect it will increase knowledge and the evidence-base for programmes seeking to improve mental health, youth development and social capital of victims of the conflict, as Colombia moves into the implementation of the peace accords.


For communities, we envisage it will increase knowledge, reach and the capacity to improve their psychological and social wellbeing to enable them to build a more fulfilling life project.

Participants in the ES.PE.RE workshop will experience its pedagogic methodology, which offers psychosocial support and fosters narratives of peace in safe spaces, enabling people to work through difficult emotional experiences, steering them towards alternative ways of re-telling stories of hatred, rage and revenge. 

Sharing Knowledge and Reaching Out

We hope to share and exchange knowledge through Festivals of Reconciliation in all the communities where the research is taking place, one international policy conference in Bogotá, which will reach Ministries (Government Departments), NGOs, the Reincorporation and Normalization Agency (ARN) as well as global audiences and international organisations such as UNESCO in addition to an LSE public lecture event (to be announced).


We are co-founded by UKRI, Newton Fund and Colciencias, as part of a larger programme funding ten UK-Colombian research projects seeking to build the evidence-base in Colombia as the country transitions from conflict into sustainable peace. Our team is led by the UK PI Professor Sandra Jovchelovitch at PBS, LSE, who is working with Dr Maria Cecilia Dedios and Dr Natalia Concha as Research Officers.

The Colombian side is led by the PI Dr Fabio Idrobo, who is based at the Public Health Axis of the Santa Fe Foundation (FSFB). He is working with Co-Investigators María Camila García Durán and Dr Elizabeth Borrero (FSFB) and with Co-Investigators from the NGO Foundation for Reconciliation, including the founder of FFR Leonel Narvaez and the Director, Paula Monroy.


Coming soon

Media and events

Coming soon