Photo of Dr Catriona Pennell

Dr Catriona Pennell

Public engagement

Community groups

I have been approached as an expert to assist a number of local, national and international museums, heritage initiatives and public bodies regarding their First World War centenary plans, including:

  • Penryn Town Council, Penryn
  • The Elliots Grocery Store Museum, Saltash
  • Bodmin Town Museum, Bodmin
  • Royal Cornwall Museum, Truro
  • The Imperial War Museum, London
  • Northern Ireland Community Relations Council (NICRC), Belfast
  • The Historial de la Grande Guerre, Péronne, France

I have also given a number of talks, based on my research, to non-academic audiences such as the National Museum of Ireland, Dublin (2014), the Military History Society of Ireland, Dublin (2014), Truro Cathedral (2014), Du Maurier Festival, Fowey (May 2012), Healing Through Remembering (October 2011), and the Truro Branch of the Historical Association (November 2010). 

I am also involved in the AHRC-funded FWW Engagement Centre, Everyday Lives in War, as a researcher and advisor for the South West of England network.


The AHRC funded project, 'The First World War in the Classroom: Teaching and the Construction of Cultural Memory' seeks to gain greater understanding of the link between education and the way the First World War is commemorated during the centenary (2014 - 2018). The project promotes collaboration and dialogue between teachers, academics, exam boards, and educational policy makers. In June 2013, a national survey was launched – never undertaken before – that seeks to establish how teachers in English Literature and History tackle the subject in their classrooms and what they think about the way it is taught. The findings of this survey will allow the project team to start making recommendations to national level curriculum setters and exam boards about the way the subject is taught in History and English Literature. In that sense, the project is ‘enabling’, providing a new platform for reflective and critical engagement with the way (and why) the First World War is taught in England. We are also working in collaboration with the Institute of Education supporting their government-funded Battlefield Centenary Tours project that will enable a minimum of two pupils and one teacher from every state funded secondary school in England to visit battlefields on the Western Front between 2014-19. 

Since October 2012 I have also been a member of Edexcel's History Strategic Advisory Board acting as a consultant on the changing history curriculum at Key Stage 5. 

Online and digital

I am the co-editor of (with Professor Richard Grayson, Goldsmiths) which seeks to link researchers and community projects via a mutually supportive virtual space during the Decade of Commemoration (2013 - 2023). 

In June 2012, I was invited to contribute to the JISC-funded 'World War One Editathon' organised jointly with Wikimedia UK. The Wikipedia military history community were brought together with experts from academia in order to improve Wikipedia articles on World War One topics and build bridges between 'Wikimedians' and academics. 

Between January and June 2012, I was a member of the Editorial Advisory Board for two JISC-funded digitization projects at the University of Oxford and King's College London relating to the First World War. 

Contribution to discipline

Advisory committees

Conferences organised

  • June 2015: Co-organiser of 'The International Experience and Legacy of the Two World Wars: A Workshop in Honour of Professor John Horne' held at Trinity College Dublin and the Royal Irish Academy, Dublin with 70 delegates in attendance. Funding secured from the Alliance Francaise, the London School of Economics and Political Science, Trinity College Dublin, University College Dublin, and the International Society for First World War Studies. 
  • February 2013: Co-organiser of a HEA supported symposium ‘The First World War in the Classroom: A Teacher/Academic Exchange’ held at the IHR, London 18-19 February 2013 with 50 delegates in attendance. Funding secured from the AHRC, Royal Historical Society, the HEA, University of Exeter, and Northumbria University. 
  • April 2006: Collaborative Postgraduate Conference between Trinity College, Dublin and University College, Dublin.
  • September 2005: Uncovering the First World War, 3rd International Conference of the International Society for First World War Studies at Trinity College, Dublin. 

Editorial and review

Nominated member of the AHRC's Peer Review College from 2015-2019. 

I served as a Section Editor for the international joint research project "1914-1918-online: International Encyclopedia of the First World War" from 2013-2015. Released in 2014, the online encyclopedia makes available a multi-perspective, public-access knowledge base on the First World War.

I have acted as a peer-reviewer of manuscripts for Oxford University Press and articles for: English Historical ReviewFirst World War Studies, Historical Journal, History and Memory, History - the Journal of the Historical Association, Irish Historical Studies, Journal of British Studies, and War in History

I am a member of the International Advisory Board for the Digest of Middle East Studies (DOMES).

External examining

2016 - 2020: External Examiner for BA International Politics and Military History at Aberystwyth University.

2012 - 2016: External Examiner for the FdA in History, Heritage and Archaelogy at Truro College (Plymouth University).

I have acted as External Examiner for PhD vivas at University College Cork and the University of Birmingham. 

Professional membership

Since 2008: External Associate of the Centre for War Studies, Trinity College Dublin.

I am also a member of the following professional associations:

  • Royal Historical Society
  • International Society for First World War Studies
  • Council for the Advancement of Arab-British Understanding (CAABU)
  • British Society for Middle Eastern Studies (BRISMES)
  • Irish Historical Society
  • Association of Critical Heritage Studies


In February 2012 I was chosen as one of twelve First World War experts to present my research to the AHRC/BBC First World War Workshop in London. As a result, I have been approached by a number of BBC and independent producers to assist with their centenary programming. In addition, I have acted as 'Development Consultant' for the programme ‘1914: Day by Day’ commissioned by BBC Radio 4 and produced by Somethin’ Else.

I have published op-ed pieces in national and international publications such as the Western Morning News, The Guardian, BBC History Magazine, and Historically Speaking. I have published pieces for local historians and teachers via the British Association of Local History (BALH) and the English Association and Historical Association magazines.

I have spoken on RTÉ (Irish national) radio on a variety of occasions, the first of which as a contributing lecturer to the annual Thomas Davis lecture series on Ireland and the Great War (November 2008). In December 2012, I appeared as a guest on The History Show broadcast live. I have also made appearances on BBC radio and television (Mark Forrest Evening Show, BBC News 24, BBC Spotlight, BBC Radio Devon and BBC Radio Cornwall).

In January 2014, I was invited to comment in the national press on remarks made by the former Secretary of State for Education, Michael Gove, about the way the First World War was taught in British history classrooms. See the Guardian and BBC History Extra as examples.

The extensive media coverage of the centenary of the lead-up to and outbreak of the First World War in June - August 2014, gave me a variety of opportunities to engage with local, national and international media outlets. Highlights include BBC GNS (27 June and 4 August 2014); Agence France Presse (AFP); RTE radio and television (4 and 5 August 2014); Channel 4 News (4 August 2014); BBC Radio 4's The World Tonight special broadcast (4 August 2014); Al Jazeera America's 'Inside Story' (5 August 2014) as well as radio and television documentaries for BBC Essex, BBC Look East and BBC Devon.

I have also contributed to articles featured in BBC News Magazine, BBC History Magazine, History Today, Psychologies and Conversation UK.

As part of the centenary commemorations of the Sykes-Picot Agreement (May 1916), I contributed a podcast to BBC History Magazine's History Extra site

I have contributed to a variety of public engagement activities as part of the centenary of the Battle of the Somme (July-November 1916) including a televised debate at the Irish Embassy, London and a forthcoming debate at the National Army Museum, London.

In February 2017 I was interviewed as part of an internationally syndicated documentary series 'The Impossible Peace' - examining the interwar period and its descent into war - produced by Wild Bear Entertainment, Australia.