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The Second World War Research Group – The Next Step


By Dr Jonathan Fennell


The Second World War Research Group was founded in 2014 and has since evolved to become an international network of scholars focused on advancing the study of the Second World War. Successful events in the United Kingdom and the United States, and a recent online workshop in the Balkans have helped us to grow our membership to nearly 230. The Group continues to be organised by a small number of committed volunteers, but as our scale and ambition grows, it has become evident that we need to formalise our processes and structure and set out a vision for where we want to take the Group over the next number of years.


Our first step has been to restructure the Second World War Research Group so that it better reflects our international ambitions. In the last year, we had our first events outside of the UK – a conference/workshop at Mississippi State University and an online workshop held in the Balkans. In the coming year, we will have our annual conference in the UK (to be held at the University of Wolverhampton), further conferences/workshops in North America and the Balkans and our first workshop in the Asia-Pacific region (in Australia). Additionally, we maintain a firm ambition to get a regional group up and running in sub-Saharan Africa. In order to ensure that these events build not only an effective community of scholars but also a real legacy of scholarship, we are now ensuring that the proceedings of our conferences and workshops are published in edited collections. In the next year and a half, we should see Revisiting the Peoples’ War: The Second World War in Socio-Political Perspective and The Environment of the Second World War in print.


To coordinate this significant increase in activity, we have decided to create an International Council (IC) to oversee the overall direction and strategy of the Group. The IC will work in consultation with the newly devised Advisory Board to coordinate the work of the Regional Groups whose responsibility it will continue to be to hold events in each region/territory and produce published output. In order to recognise the contribution of volunteers to its activities, the Group will also henceforward elect ‘Fellows’ to the Second World War Research Group. Fellowship will be earned by making a significant and sustained contribution to the Group, such as running a conference or workshop. The new structure is outlined below and elaborated on in our new Constitution.

It will be my honour to become the first President of the Second World War Research Group and to work alongside Dr Kathryn Barbier, Dr Richard Hammond, Dr Christina Goulter and Dr Ross Mahoney, who will all be Vice-Presidents and members of the IC. Officeholders will maintain their positions for five years and can then choose to stand for election if they wish to remain on the IC.


In the coming months, we will invite scholars to sit on our advisory board. As those on the IC currently also serve as Regional Directors (alongside Dr Robert Engen, Dr Jadwiga Biskupska, Professor Peter Dean, Dr Karl James and Professor Peter Stanley), we would love to hear from committed scholars who are willing to play a role in building our regional organisations – through working as Directors or Deputy-Directors (such as Dr Jacob Stoil and Nicole Townsend) or by organising events (with the aim of becoming a Fellow). Membership of the Group is open to anyone with an academic affiliation or who can demonstrate a commitment to the study of the Second World War through other means. The make-up of all our international and regional panels will reflect the Group’s commitment to encouraging scholars from all backgrounds, regardless of age, seniority, gender, or race, to participate in its organisation.


So, get in touch, get involved! Let us take the Second World War Research Group to the next level! The group aims to promote innovative research on the conflict and its global aspects and act as a forum for:

  • Bringing together new perspectives on the conflict;

  • Publicising recent and current research into the conflict and its global impact;

  • Encouraging collaboration in research across the scholarly community and across academic disciplines; and

  • Providing an organisational hub for conferences, seminars and other events relating to the conflict.

Become part of the team!


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© 2019 by the Second World War Research Group.

Background Image: Units of the 21st Australian Infantry Brigade marching along a winding track in the foothills of the Finisterre Ranges on their way to the Ramu Valley after being relieved, November 1943. Photograph by Norman Stuckley. (Source: Australian War Memorial)

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