Pathways people 2

Pathways to Reconciliation


Professor Sandra Jovchelovitch led this UKRI-Minciencias Colombia grant that investigated the impact of the Schools for Forgiveness and Reconciliation (ES.PE.RE) on the psychological and social wellbeing of people living in territories hit by the Colombian armed conflict.

Local communities are extremely effective in building knowledge and developing solutions to societal challenges and academics must learn how to partner effectively with local populations.

Professor Sandra Jovchelovitch


Pathways to Reconciliation Pathways to Reconciliation
In English: Our Pathways to Reconciliation video describes our three year project with communities living in territories of armed conflict in Colombia. Created by Pataleta


Pathways to Reconciliation Pathways to Reconciliation
In Spanish: Our Pathways to Reconciliation video describes our three year project with communities living in territories of armed conflict in Colombia. Created by Pataleta

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

Over three years of field visits, surveys, interviews and dialogues, researchers studied the mental health, community ties and life trajectories of young people and adults in armed conflict territories.

Findings show that experiences of forgiveness and reconciliation are associated with improved mental health, transformation of personal relationships, increased trust in the ability to achieve goals and re-think the future. 

People who participate in the ES.PE.RE (Schools for Forgiveness and Reconciliation) are able to build a different narrative for their lives despite the challenges imposed by the context and the Colombian Peace agreement.


Context and concepts

Pathways to Reconciliation involved an international, multiple stake-holder research partnership, comprising academics and NGOs activists and practitioners from the LSE and Fundación para la ReconciliaciónFundación Santa Fe de Bogotá. It has offered us a rich research experience with non-WEIRD populations (Western, Educated, Industrialised, Rich and Democratic) in a challenging context.

The project adopted a clinical socio-cultural approach to 'human development under contextual adversity', defined as contexts characterised by poverty, violence and stigma. It explored first-hand accounts of experiences, meanings and narratives lived by young people and adults from seven PDET municipalities across four geographical departments heavily exposed to the Colombian conflict. 

Our research shows that it is important to:

  • Invest in forgiveness and reconciliation and the mental health of people exposed to political violence.
  • Systematise and leverage the experience and practical knowledge of NGOs that have been working in these territories throughout the conflict.
  • Understand the developmental pathways of youth living through the dilemmas of peace and conflict and the wider structural problems of Colombian society. 

Our project team


Pathways to Reconciliation Research Team_Image via Professor Sandra Jovchelovitch 2022
Pathways to Reconciliation project team


Our team was led by the UK Principal Investigator (PI) Professor Sandra Jovchelovitch (Department of Psychological and Behavioural Science, LSE) who worked with Dr Maria Cecilia Dedios and Dr Natalia Concha.

The Colombian team was led by the PI Dr Fabio Idrobo, based at the Public Health Axis of Fundación Santa Fe de Bogotá (FSFB). He worked with María Camila García Durán, Dr Diego Salcedo, and Dr Elizabeth Borrero (FSFB). Finally, our NGO partner Fundación para la Reconciliación, included its founder Leonel Narvaez, the Director, Angélica Perez and their dedicated team.

Impact: event recordings, blogs and podcasts

The Pathways project incorporated a broad range of knowledge exchange and knowledge sharing, including multiple stakeholders from different sectors of society, including government and policymakers, academics, communities affected by the conflict in Colombia and the wider public.

The project concluded with the organisation of Festivals of Reconciliation in all the communities we worked with. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, these were adapted to multimedia events and outputs including podcasts, webinars, videos and infographics.

Below you will find recordings from events and webinars, blogs, podcasts, papers and more detailing the crucial conversations and topics from our fieldwork.


Society for Qualitative Inquiry in Psychology (SQIP) 2022 

This event took place on 18 June 2022

María Cecilia Dedios presented the Life Trajectory Qualitative Interview Guide (LiTraQ) at the Society for Qualitative Inquiry in Psychology (SQIP) 2022 conference.  

Seminar of Public Affairs

This took place on 20 May 2022

Natalia Concha and María Cecilia Dedios presented the study results at the "Seminar of Public Affairs” at the School of Government at Los Andes University. The presentation was entitled: 'Forgiveness, Reconciliation, and Future-Oriented Expectations among Young People in Seven PDET Territories’. 

Watch the event recording (in Spanish) on Facebook here.

Festivals of Reconciliation

This took place from 10 November - 20 December 2021

Through the Festivals of Reconciliation the project team reported on findings, engaging with the communities where the research was based. This took place through podcasts and webinars, promoted through social media and aired in local and regional radio stations.

Festival events were in Spanish as they were addressed to the local Colombian communities that participated in the research.

Webinar | Caminos hacia la Reconciliación

This event took place on Wednesday 10 November 2021, online.

The webinar disseminated our research findings back to our communities, engaging in knowledge exchange with community leaders and local policy stakeholders.

Speakers: Professor Sandra Jovchelovitch (LSE), Leonel Narvaez (Fundación para la Reconciliación) and Dr Fabio Idrobo with Dr Diego Salcedo (Fundación Santa Fe de Bogotá), accompanied by women community leaders from our territories: Yulima Arias, Luz Mari Cundumí, Fanny Gaviria, Carmen Cárdenas, Flor Alba Arias and local public health and education representatives Flor Alba Zambrano Morillo and Ema Galindo, moderated by our communications partner, Emiliano Restrepo (KeepUp Communications).

Impact: The webinar enabled us to hear from our community leaders and helped establish bridges between the different sectors.  

You can watch the recording of this event by following this link.

LSE Public Lecture | Reconciliation Processes in Post-Conflict Societies: Colombia and beyond

This event took place on 5 October 2021

Speakers: Professor Lord Alderdice, Dr Fabio Idrobo, Professor Nicola Lacey and Federico Rodriguez. Chaired by: Professor Sandra Jovchelovitch

Access the podcast recording on LSE Player Watch the video recording on Facebook


Forgiveness as a vehicle to improve wellbeing in post-conflict Colombia, December 20th, 2021, LSE Latin American and Caribbean Centre blog.


We developed five podcasts for each of Territorial Focused Development Plans (PDET) regions where the research took place. The podcasts presented testimonies from our participants, community leaders and our research team: Dr Maria Cecilia Dedios and Dr Natalia Concha (LSE), María Camila García and Dr Diego Salcedo (Fundación Santa Fe de Bogota) accompanied by Leonel Narvaez (Fundación para la Reconciliación).

Access all five podcast episodes (in Spanish) via the following platforms :

Podcast Caminos hacia la Reconciliacion 


Apple Podcasts


All the podcasts were aired by various Colombian local and regional radio stations during 13-21 December, including: Emisora Radio 1040 (Popayán, Cauca), Emisora Ambeima Estéreo (Chaparral, Tolima), Emisora Divina Estéreo (María la Baja, Montes de María), Emisora Innovación Estéreo (San Juan de Nepomuceno, Montes de María), Emisora Ecos del Caguán FM (San Vicente del Caguán, Caquetá), Emisora Comunitaria 104.1 (Florencia, Caquetá).


International Seminar: Strengthening leaderships for forgiveness and reconciliation

This event took place from 16 to 21 November 2021 (hybrid)

Our NGO partner Fundación para la Reconciliación hosted the international seminar Strengthening leaderships for forgiveness and reconciliation on 16-21 November 2021 with international practitioners and academics, including Fred Kofman (MIT), Robert Enright (Wisconsin University), Everett Worthington (Virginia University), Donna Hicks (Harvard University), Martin Leiner and Berneth Pena (Kena University, Germany) and our very own, Sandra Jovchelovitch with Fabio Idrobo (Fundación Santa Fe de Bogotá), amongst many others. 

Fieldwork images

We visited the territories where our fieldwork and the ES.PE.RE workshops took place. Below we share meaningful moments capturing the process. 

All images are courtesy of Diego Salcedo.

Pathways circle

Coming together in Florencia and San Vicente del Caguán in Caquetá: a ritualised activity in the ES.PE.RE workshops involves building symbolic circles to help people understand and make sense of the dynamics of forgiving and reconciling. 

Pathways communications

In Bolivar, part of the North Atlantic and Caribbean region, ES.PE.RE explores with participants the meanings of communication, uplifting the importance of calm and serene words to move away from disruption and conflict. 

Pathways bonding thread

In Chaparral, Tolima, another ES.PE.RE activity illustrates how people unite by bonding through a representational thread, enabling linkages through human contact.

New funding: STARS-C

This research programme will continue through “STARS-C,” which is jointly funded by Minciencias (Colombia) and ESRC/UKRI (UK). The project aims to build effective mental health provision in Colombian communities heavily affected by armed conflict and help build new roads to peace, using a bottom-up, participatory approach.