- “The Pedagogical Value of Combining Conflict Resolution Models & Premodern History,” Sean Easton (Gustavus Adolphus College)
A measure of familiarity with approaches to the resolution of violent conflict is an unalloyed good in any student’s education. At minimum, it equips engaged citizens to think constructively about violence on the world stage or within their country and to do so beyond the narratives of their chosen political party or preferred set of pundits.
Using tools such as needs/fears charts, conflict maps, and other models from the field of conflict analysis and resolution can facilitate an active, problem-solving approach to premodern history as well. These tools enable students to discern better and more independently a given conflict’s component parts, its place in its larger context, and to identify key differences between competing accounts. In the field of ancient history, where the primary sources may give relatively sparse information, conflict analysis can substantivize what otherwise might strike students as slightly random, anecdotal accounts. In my particular field of ancient Greek and Roman studies, a few conflicts are the subject of considerable attention from ancient historians, such as the Greco-Persian Wars, the Peloponnesian War, Carthage vs. Rome, but there are many more conflicts discussed in passing whose brevity makes them relatively inaccessible to students taught to look for long form narrative accounts.
For those taught to look at the dynamics of conflict and its resolution, however, the potential for learning and insight is much greater. Furthermore, a particular model used to illuminate a given premodern conflict can also serve as a bridge to a modern or even current conflict with which one can make meaningful comparisons. For courses in conflict analysis and resolution, premodern conflicts can be useful in teaching directly because so many are reported only in brief and without a great deal of context. For that reason, they can easily be excerpted for student analysis. In short, instructors of ancient history can benefit considerably from introducing elements of conflict resolution, while instructors of conflict resolution can expand their repertoire of quickly deployable instructive examples.
- “Forming Nonviolent Activists through Self-Reflection and Connection,” Linda Land-Closson (Regis University)
My proposal responds to the prompt “How do we engage self-reflectively with the systemic violence…embedded in organizations and communities?” In “Revolution and Equilibrium” (1968), Barbara Deming promotes nonviolent revolution by calling for boldness and persistence, complemented by an emphasis on the value of all people, if not particularly our adversaries. Through this work, Deming beckons us into the continuum between violence and nonviolence by describing a combination of power and conscience as the way to bring about nonviolent change. While this appeal to conscience and human value offers a welcomed counterpoint to power operating alone, Deming’s efforts in this essay fall short in that the counterweight she presents remains “Other” focused; she does not call us equally to self-reflective work, thus allowing us to turn a blind eye to our own culpability in the persistence of unjust systems.
Before bringing in other sources to correct the absence (or, perhaps, understatement) of self-reflection in Deming’s essay, I first reconsider “self” through the work of Relational-Cultural Theory (RCT). In short, RCT shifts the focus of human development from “static states of the individual…to the dynamics of relationships,” and “‘[c]onnection…[replaces] self as the core element or the locus of the creative energy of development’.” This re-conceptualization shifts justice work toward relationships, and better positions us to revisit (ironically?) self-reflection.
To explore the benefits of self-reflection, I rely on Stevenson’s Just Mercy and Christopher R. Williams’s article “Compassion, Suffering and the Self.” These works claim that through our brokenness (Stevenson) and suffering (Williams) we are called, respectively, to mercy and compassion for self and others. From this merciful and compassionate orientation, we are better equipped to bring others in more closely and thereby give life to relationships and systems that make the perpetuation of systemic violence and injustice more difficult.
The question, though, is how do we begin to turn the societal and cultural tides toward self-reflection, especially if we are being called into our own pain to do so? How do we equip people to do this difficult work? A short answer is we build this work into the formation of relationship-centered, nonviolent activists.
In 1973, the Superior General of the Society of Jesus, Fr. Pedro Arrupe, gave a speech titled “Men for Others.” This speech is a call to action for Jesuit schools to form students intentionally to become creators of a more just world. Although Arrupe refers to “sin” instead of “brokenness” or “suffering,” he presumes a relational self and a merciful and compassionate response to one’s own pain that then results in the need to offer such to all others: “In short, interior conversion is not enough…. We cannot separate personal conversion from structural social reform.” Peace and Justice Studies programs ought to draw upon the collective wisdom of Deming, RCT, Stevenson, Williams, and Arrupe in hopes of forming merciful and compassionate self-reflective activists trained to act nonviolently with power and conscience.
- “Student Diplomacy: For the World and Our Campuses,” Lisa Leitz, Julye Bidmead, Avery Bennett, Rob Vallone, Max Lopez and Alexis Sutterman (Chapman University)
The Olive Tree Initiative is a multi-campus experiential learning program that involves preparation on student diplomacy, intensive study of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, and travel to the Middle East. The program has been lauded as a leading peace education initiative in higher educations, having won the U.S. Center for Citizen Diplomacy (in cooperation with the U.S. Department of State) “Top Ten” Higher Education Program Award, among other recognitions. The program offers an extraordinary learning opportunity in conflict resolution, and also trains students to be leaders in conflict mediation on their home campuses, where conflicts abroad (or those in which the U.S. is engaged) can flare up. The tagline of the program “beyond soundbites and stereotypes” is one that can be applied to many other issues, and we encourage other university professionals as well as activist groups to join us to learn more about the program. This immersive program has brought students who have protested each other together in the pursuit of peace and justice, thus encouraging solidarity where there was enmity. The carefully crafted processes up to, including, and after the travel experience create both a local, on-campus and a global version of MLK’s “beloved community.” Students form strong bonds with fellow “OTI alums” across ethnic, religious, gender, and other divides that drive tensions in the region, as well as back home. The students are also given meaningful interactions with senior politicians in the Middle East and U.S. policymakers for this region. Chapman University has recently opened a chapter, run through its Peace Studies Department, and students and faculty who have travelled with the program invite participants to learn about this program, and to consider aspects of building from this for future programs. Students and faculty who have travelled with the program highlight important aspects including: interfaith dialogue as a means of peacebuilding; the importance of engaging with multiple narratives; training for careers in diplomacy while encouraging a global interconnectedness; the continuing need to humanize “the other” in order to develop restorative justice processes; bringing the experience back home and taking it out into our communities; and the need to create an inclusive space for conflict resolution.
- “Escalation of Violence in Crisis: Using Education to Raise Awareness Among Peacebuilding and Humanitarian Actors,” Jess Bonnan-White (Stockton University); Chelsea Cornwell (Forage Center for Peacebuilding and Humanitarian Education) and Sydna Cooper (Forage Center for Peacebuilding and Humanitarian Education)
Experiential learning has previously been stressed as a key component of humanitarian assistance, conflict resolution and peacebuilding education. Exposure to training opportunities is recognized as a key component of building resilient communities and communication mechanisms in crisis response. Experiential education opportunities therefore provide space for participants to explore how partnerships in community relief during crisis can unintentionally escalate violence. Complicating peacebuilding and related activities, such as humanitarian assistance, are the variety of skill-set and theoretical competencies considered to be necessary for practice. For instance, competencies valued in humanitarian assistance workers are grounded, in whole or in part, on four humanitarian principles: impartiality, neutrality, independence, and humanity. The present paper presents a case study illustrating how graduate students participating in a 4-day humanitarian assistance exercise (March 2018) applied humanitarian principles to a peacebuilding scenario. The exercise, designed as a immersive, “real-time” field training exercise (FTX), is organized by a not-for-profit peacebuilding education organization, and presents a simulated disaster response deployment in a fictional country facing escalation of civil violence. The student participants enrolled in the exercise come with backgrounds from a number of fields directly related to humanitarian assistance and peacebuilding, including social work, conflict resolution, emergency management, international relations, and peace studies. Student participants also brought extensive experience in international and domestic humanitarian and justice work to the training exercise. In this case, rather than using the principles to guide a broader understanding of peacebuilding mechanisms, student choice demonstrated confusion regarding how to build an inclusive humanitarian space. During reflection, the students illustrated a misunderstanding of humanitarian principles and subsequent impact on conflict escalation. The case study illustrates clear need for educational programming in peacebuilding, community justice, or humanitarian assistance to include explicit opportunities for critical self-reflection on concepts like impartiality, neutrality, independence, and humanity.
- “Building Bridges in a Time of Walls,” Allyshia Dycus (ESIP Consulting)
Effective peacebuilding requires addressing systemic barriers within our communities. This necessitates the building of bridges not only at the interpersonal level, but between the institutions which from the foundation of our societies. Extensive research has shown that the more skill sets in Social- and Emotional- Intelligence (SEI) are acquired across disciplines, the more pervasive peace becomes. SEI encompasses a diverse spectrum of applicable skill sets in dialogue, cultural competence, empathy, and nonviolent conflict resolution. SEI is based on the assumption that individuals and groups can be a catalysis for positive personal and social change, engaging in a bottom-up approach to peacebuilding at the community level. It is this research which propelled the creation of an Emotional and Social Intelligence Program (ESIP), a program designed to be multilevel (intra/interpersonal), multicultural, multidisciplinary, and both theoretical and practical.
The program is formatted as facilitated, interactive and intensive workshops. Each workshop is designed to be tailored to meet the goals of the institution and the needs of the participants. The workshops are founded on the premise that safe space and dialogue can build bridges between individuals with diverse experiences and belief structures. Individuals acquire skill sets which inform best practices within their professional field. We present the core principals of SEI in a way that best serves the individuals and the institution. The workshop has found application in…students entering a graduate program in International Peace and Conflict Resolution at Arcadia University; youth addressing high levels of community violence in an after-school program; professional mediators looking to expand their skill sets; medical professionals addressing barriers to access in emergency responses; and foster youth within Child Welfare in need of alternative methods to violence. These institutions continue to capitalize on the knowledge base of these workshops with tailored manuals designed to meet their long-term programmatic needs.
- “Rehabilitation and Reintegration of Genocide Ex-Prisoners: Understanding the Correctional Role of Prisons in Rwanda,” Lulu Abdun (Miami University of Oxford)
After the Genocide Against the Tutsi in 1994, over 120,000 people were imprisoned in Rwanda for the perpetration of genocide. Twenty-three years after the Genocide, numerous genocide ex-prisoners have been released. Throughout their prison time and after their release, rehabilitation and reintegration programming has been available. This paper looks at the rehabilitation and reintegration programming available to genocide ex-prisoners, the success and challenges they currently face or have previously faced, and recommendations for reforms for the future prison/rehabilitation/reintegration process. This paper also examines the correctional role of prisons in Rwanda and how that contributes to successful reintegration. From interviewing genocide ex-prisoners, the Rwanda Correctional Service (RCS), and several organizations that work directly with genocide ex-prisoners, it is evident that there is rehabilitation and reintegration programming both inside and outside of prison focusing on but not limited to education, unity and reconciliation, forgiveness, and healing. There are also various successes and challenges that genocide ex-prisoners face, for example, intermarriage, storytelling, forgiveness, shame, guilt, and acceptance. In conclusion, Rwanda’s genocide ex-prisoners have not recidivated, which conveys the message that the systems that are currently in place have assisted tremendously in successful reintegration. Although the challenges of genocide ex-prisoners presently outweigh the successes, there are favorable conditions available, proper programs in place, and recommendations being developed to make reintegration even more successful.
- “A Taxonomy of Biases: Preferences, Habits and Inclinations Affecting Group Approaches to Conflict,” Rebecca Subar (West Chester University)
Faced with conflict, sometimes groups choose methods based on their assessment of power, principle and strategy. But most groups, whether they face conflict in city hall, on the streets, or at work, do not make tactical or even strategic choices on a purely pragmatic basis; none of us are purely rational actors. People, and the groups we form, bring biases to our choices of how to resolve disputes. Groups may be strongly influenced by culture, habit, moral commitment, group identity, or emotional context, among other factors. This makes it hard for us as observers of conflict to make sense of what we see. Inside government, among political activists, and within organizations, individuals and groups make choices that don’t appear to be strategically sound, or even in sync with their principles.
Some groups talk when a conflict isn’t ripe for talking; they may be better off doing principled resistance, but this may be antithetical to their culture. Conversely, some groups fight even when they have sufficient access to power to have their interests met through negotiation. Talking may be anathema to their community norms.
Preferences for or tendencies to certain methods, or “methods biases,” are typical in people’s choices of action to navigate conflict. Understanding group preferences and unintentional biases toward either negotiation, or non-violent resistance, or violent resistance, is key to analyzing conflicts. Exploring these biases, preferences and predilections, in the context of the power dynamics of the conflict, can also produce better choices and outcomes for strategists in organizational life and social movements.
Of course, individuals and groups have specialized expertise, which, when deployed in a coordinated and strategic fashion, maximizes the resources of groups of groups all struggling toward common goals. Because of the range of expertise, experience, philosophical commitments, biases and other preferences among groups working toward common goals, there is frequently a range of approaches championed. At best, this diversity of approaches can be coordinated, or at least, conducted with supportive cooperation. More typically, though, methods biases prevent cooperation.
This paper unearths and examines the reasons groups tend toward either negotiation or struggle, violent or non-violent. It brings together negotiation theory and social change theory to identify, discuss and classify the biases, preferences, habits, cultural influences, and other factors that cause groups to veer from assessments of power, principles and strategy in choosing how to approach a conflict.
The lines between scholarship, education, and activism have been blurred in new and challenging ways in recent years. Conversations on “free speech,” “academic freedom,” and “politics” in the classroom are just a few examples of this. PJSA describes itself as an association of academics, teachers, and activists. What does it mean to be an academic, a teacher, and an activist? Are these roles mutually exclusive? Or are they necessary elements to effecting social, political, and economic change? This roundtable will be an opportunity to reflect on these and other questions and hear from each other on how we negotiate these boundaries and identities.
7.4 How a Very Small Group Forced a Very Large Bank to End its Financing of Mountaintop Removal Coal Mining: The story of a successful 5 year, 123 action, campaign - Roundtable
Founded in 2010, EQAT is a non-profit organization committed to "Building a just and sustainable economy through nonviolent direct action". Our focus is on the intersection of economic and environmental justice. We are a multi-generational, predominantly white, spiritually grounded group of Friends and friends of friends who are confronting environmental and economic injustice through strategized campaigns. We look to history for wisdom and inspiration: we look to each other for an evolving understanding of what revolutionary activism might look like now.
We named our first campaign Bank Like Appalachia Matters ( BLAM ) and our demand was that PNC Bank end its financial support of mountaintop removal coal mining. Five years and 123 actions later, PNC agreed to meet this demand and did so.
We began this campaign in 2010 with 12 of us protesting in silence outside the Philadelphia corporate headquarters of PNC. Our final action occurred on Saturday, December 5th, 2015 and involved a few thousand folks in 13 states engaged in actions at their individual PNC bank branches.
During out BLAM campaign we visited MTR sites in Appalachia and coordinated with allies there; received ongoing training in campaign strategizing; walked 200 miles from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh; grew our courage by taking risks; interrupted PNC annual shareholder meetings, built windmills in the corporate lobby, participated in direct action and were arrested, pulled off the biggest bank branch action U.S. history; learned to spotlight PNC board members and executives; and disrupted community events sponsored by PNC. Between these larger actions, we maintained a constant presence at PNC bank branches. We always made time for personal reflection and sharing, making sure we were creating within EQAT, a community of love and justice that mirrored the one we were working together to create in the outside world.
At our roundtable, we will share our individual stories of hopes and fears, experiences and learning from our membership in EQAT and during our BLAM campaign. Each of us has made our own journey.
This roundtable will explore ways in which interventions into the U.S. criminal justice system can be experienced as violent, and alternatively approaches that can increase the likelihood that our interventions will be felt as nonviolent. The facilitator has mediated restorative justice cases in Los Angeles for over half of a decade and has worked in California prisons through the Freedom to Choose Project. Bringing these experiences to bear, we will explore topics through guided dialogue including: forms of violence; the impacts of race, class and other forms of privilege on our interventions; understanding the experience of persons in the system; and recognizing and working with trauma in the environment. The facilitator will give a brief introduction of the topics to be covered and their significance from her standpoint. Questions will be posed to participants in each of the topical areas which can be answered from the standpoint of practitioners, scholars, and those who have experienced the criminal justice system first-hand.
7.6 Association for Conflict Resolution Workshop,The Impact of a Juvenile Diversion Program on Conflict Competency: A Decade of Outcomes"
Good Shepherd Mediation Program (GSMP), Philadelphia’s only neighborhood justice center, offers the Juvenile Offender Diversion Program (JODP) to young people, ages 10-18, who have been arrested for a delinquent act for the first time. Youth are referred from the Philadelphia Office of the District Attorney's 29 Youth Aid Panels, judges, probation officers, the school district discipline office, and others. The types of offenses include nonviolent misdemeanors or simple felonies such as shoplifting, riding in a stolen car, simple assault, robbery, weapon on school property, fighting in school, terroristic threats, criminal trespassing, or disorderly conduct. JODP serves about 400 youth each year. The young people participate in restorative justice type circle where they discuss what happened and how they came to be referred to this workshop. Following the Circle, they participate in a day of communication, conflict resolution, anger management, and decision-making education. The participants complete pre- and post-workshop conflict competency assessment questionnaires and satisfaction surveys. GSMP gathers self-reported demographic data and the Office of the District Attorney tracks the participants’ recidivism date for three years (or until they turn 18; whichever occurs first) following the intervention. Choice Research Associates, Greenbelt, MD, is currently assessing 10 years of this data. This workshop will focus on JODP and the results of this ground-breaking assessment.
7.7 Conflict Mapping, Peace Research & the Korean Peninsula: Promoting Our Field’s Underutilized Resources to Prevent War - Workshop
The field of Peace and Conflict Studies produces significant research, analysis, and thoughtful leadership that is often underutilized by the many possible beneficiaries. Included in this work is the important tool of conflict mapping and the value it holds in presenting a critical overview of a conflict, its context, evolution, and possible paths to constructive transformation.
The complex conflict on the Korean Peninsula has repeatedly reached stages of escalation short of war and is one of many examples lacking proper evaluation and understanding. The current U.S. administration, so-called experts called upon by the media and therefore much of the public, seemingly disregard the history and context of the conflict, the major parties and various issues, needs, and conflict dynamics. This knowledge is vital to move the conflict trajectory onto a constructive path.
In this skills-building workshop, we will present and emphasize the importance of original conflict mapping of the Korean conflict and discuss selected research that provides valuable insight into some of the conflict’s less-observed nuances. Together, we will examine the development and application of conflict mapping, as well as ways how peace research can be made practically relevant.