Menu Close

Colin John Irwin

Research Fellow, Department of Politics, University of Liverpool

Dr Colin Irwin was born in England where he grew up on the south coast attending school and art college in Bournemouth. As Scientific Officer of the British Sub-Aqua Club he salvaged a Bronze Age craft from Poole Harbour in 1964 and lived in the first underwater house with an artificial atmosphere in 1965. In 1968 he worked as a diving instructor in the Red Sea but turned his attention to the Canadian Arctic in the 1970s where he sailed the North West Passage, crossed Arctic North America by dog team and voyaged from Scotland to Iceland, Greenland and Hudson’s Bay. In 1978 he was awarded the Royal Cruising Club Medal for Seamanship.

He received his joint Masters Degree in Anthropology, Religious Studies and Philosophy from the University of Manitoba in 1981 with a thesis on Inuit ethics and a Doctorate in Social Science from Syracuse University in 1984 with a dissertation on the nature of human conflict and how the Inuit developed a culture and society without war. After working for Canadian Native organisations he produced the report ‘Lords of the Arctic: Wards of the State’ which led to a Royal Commission on the state of Canada’s First People and an Inuit land claim settlement that established the Territory of Nunavut.

With the support of a Canadian Government fellowship he based himself at Queen’s University Belfast in 1989 to complete a comparative study of the systems of segregated education in Northern Ireland and Israel and the role of integrated schools in conflict resolution. This led him to take a series of Human Rights complaints against the British Government to UNESCO and the UN that established the rights of children to attend integrated schools.

He was the principal investigator on the ‘Peace Building and Public Policy in Northern Ireland’ project funded by the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust and in support of the negotiations of the Belfast Agreement he conducted nine public opinion polls in collaboration with the political parties elected to the Stormont Talks. This work is reviewed in his book, ‘The People’s Peace Process in Northern Ireland’ published by Palgrave MacMillan in 2002.

With funding from various NGOs, the British and Canadian Governments and Royal Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs he has extended his work around the world to include the Balkans, Middle East and Asia completing ‘peace polls’ in Macedonia in 2002, Bosnia and Herzegovina 2004, Serbia and Kosovo 2005, UK Muslims in 2006, Kashmir 2007, Israel and Palestine 2008, Sri Lanka 2009/10 and Syria 2014 and Cyprus 2016/17. This work is reviewed in his book ‘The People’s Peace – Pax Populi, Pax Dei’ published in 2012.

Colin Irwin is a member of the World Association of Public Opinion Research. As an expert on public opinion, public diplomacy and peace processes he has advised the UN Department of Peace Keeping Operations (DPKO) on their procedures and best practice; lectured in the US, UK, Europe, Middle East and Asia and authored over 100 articles, papers, and books on these topics. As a Research Fellow in the Department of Politics at the University of Liverpool he is presently developing a perceptions based ‘People’s Peace Index’ to globalise and mainstream his ‘peace polls’ methods in all peace processes with research published on his website at:


  • –present
    Research Fellow, University of Liverpool


  • 1985 
    Syracuse University, PhD