2017 Session 1

Strategies for indigenizing education: Canada’s TRC and human rights – Panel

Wendy Kroeker (Instructor, Peace and Conflict Transformation Studies, Canadian Mennonite University), Julie Hyde (Faculty of Graduate Studies, University of Manitoba), Steve Schroeder (Associate Professor of History, University of the Fraser Valley Abbotsford Campus)

Established in 2008, the Canadian Truth and Reconciliation Commission was tasked with providing a forum for the public acknowledgement of the personal, community, and national impact of Indian Residential Schools – federally-funded institutions which served as a central component to a broader policy of colonial assimilation and control. In June 2015 the Canadian TRC put out its “94 Calls to Action” oriented toward encouraging various sectors to work together to change policies and programs in a concerted effort to redress the harm caused by residential schools and “move forward” with reconciliation. As peace scholars and educators we accept these calls for change, and wish to intentionally answer and respond through changes that explore methods and strategies that address our relationships and work towards building new ways of being and doing. This panel will focus on avenues for change that have emerged out of discussions in the educational sector over the past 2 years. What are ways to encourage non-indigenous Canadians to take ownership of the legacies of colonialism so as to engage in reconciliation processes at multiple levels of interaction? Presentation topics will include explorations of ways to frame the conversation, and examples of relationship building. Each panel participant will articulate a framing of their institution’s intent to work with the educational Calls to Action and to relate specific examples of strategies and activities, along with the challenges and questions emerging from these endeavors.

Understanding Stress and Trauma with Incarcerated Youth: An evaluation of correctional interventions within Juvenile Detention – Panel

Rolanda J West (Instructor, Northeastern Illinois University/Executive Director, Alternative Education Research Institute), Herman Spencer (Director of Programs, Alternative Education Research Institute), Rukiye Ayyildiz (Director of Research and Evaluation, Alternative Education Research Institute)

During the 7/1/16 – 6/30/17 grant period, Alternative Education Research Institute (AERI), in partnership with Northeastern Illinois University (NEIU) created the innerSCOPE Leadership and Empowerment program (innerSCOPE). innerSCOPE offers youth residents of the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center (JTDC) the opportunity to learn skills that allow them to better communicate, resolve conflict, and restore/rebuild their communities upon release. The project’s internal evaluation uses a non-experimental, exploratory design to determine the correlation between innerSCOPE’s empowerment strategies and the behaviors and attitudes of JTDC residents and staff. The project’s primary approach is theory-based, and the secondary approach is objectives-based. While the evaluation design is comprehensive, the internal evaluation is process oriented. The external evaluation is will utilize program data to identify and analyze outcomes. This panel will discuss how to best develop and implement correctional programs that identify stress and trauma perpetrated on and by juvenile inmates prior to incarceration while exploring the best practices associated with program delivery.

Structural Injustice and Legal Systems: Bridging, Repairing, Reimagining the Infrastructures – Panel

Janet Gerson (International Institute on Peace Education), Jill Strauss (Borough of Manhattan Community College, CUNY), Dale Snauwaert (University of Toledo), Jeffery H. Warnke (Bowling Green State University)

In this round table, civil rights and human rights will be explored from multiple perspectives:  law and legal advocacy, productive tensions between legitimacy and legality, problems of repair and reparations. These will be considered practically and philosophically within their normative basis in conceptions of justice, as well as the moral, ethical, and legal basis of the mutual and reciprocal rights and duties of the individual as free and equal citizen. We consider implications for redressing injustice as activists and educators, using protest and advocacy, international law and universal jurisdiction, memorializations and personal narratives.

The Core Dynamics of Sustainable Peace: Understanding and synthesizing the science across disciplines – Panel

Douglas P. Fry (Chair, Department of Anthropology, University of Alabama at Birmingham), Larry S. Liebovitch (Professor of Physics and Psychology, Queens College, CUNY), Jaclyn Donahue (Program Manager, Advanced Consortium on Cooperation, Conflict and Complexity, Earth Institute, Columbia University), David Gilchrist (Graduate student, University of Alabama at Birmingham)

While evidence suggests that humans have lived for the vast majority of their history in peace and are fundamentally cooperative beings, few scholars study peace directly as a positive state. Instead, they study aggression, violence, and war – and peace within those contexts. This contributes to a fragmented understanding of peace and the conditions conducive to its sustainability and has adverse implications for policy and practice.

Recognizing this gap in the academic understanding and practical application of peace, an interdisciplinary team convened by Columbia University’s Advanced Consortium on Cooperation, Conflict, and Complexity launched a multi-year initiative – the Sustainable Peace Project – which is focused on understanding the core dynamics of sustainably peaceful societies. Through the synthesis of evidence-based science on the dynamics of sustainably peaceful societies, the project has developed a Model of Sustainable Peace, which may ultimately support more adaptive decision-making processes to increase probabilities for peace.

Building on Boulding (1978), the project defines sustainable peace as a state where the probability of using destructive conflict and violence to solve problems is so low that it does not enter into any group’s strategy, while the probability of using cooperation and dialogue to promote social justice and well-being is so high that it governs social organization and life. In developing its model, the project is informed by three main assumptions: (1) sustainable peace is possible; (2) articulating a nuanced vision for sustainable peace, informed by empirical research, is a vital step towards achieving it; and (3) complex dynamics can be fruitfully understood through visualizing the science. The project draws on the methodology employed by the UK Government’s Foresight Program, which uses systems mapping and causal loop diagramming to understand and inform policy on complex subject matters.

In order to ensure its applicability to a variety of contexts, the model is being refined through ongoing research in the project’s four integral components:

1. Synthesizing the science of sustainable peace – The project is engaging experts and examining leading science to inform, visualize and refine a basic Model of Sustainable Peace.

2. Understanding peace systems – The project is examining the existing scholarship and re-examining anthropological data on peace systems to validate the model.

3. Learning with community stakeholders – Through dialogues about sustainable peace at the community level, local perspectives are being gathered in order to test the model’s validity and applicability.

4. Mathematical modeling – A mathematical model is being created in order to reveal properties that may be difficult to discern through other methods.

This session will elaborate on the research and findings of project components 1, 2 and 4. This includes presentations on: the theoretical work of the model, including testing its definitions and hypotheses; the distinctions made between societies identified as peace systems and non-peace systems in revealing variables that contribute to sustainable peace; and preliminary results from quantitative modeling and machine learning of the project’s qualitative data. The session will conclude with a review of current findings and future trajectory in advancing research to realize a vision of sustainable peace.

Activist Education – Panel

  • “Activist education and the human-nature connection: three examples from Birmingham, Alabama, USA”, Stephen R. Merritt (Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of Alabama Birmingham)

    Education is a human right, and well-educated citizens are central to the peaceful operation of society. Likewise, a growing body of research suggests that human health is positively impacted by exposure to nature, and conversely, negatively affected by environmental pollution. The industrial history of Birmingham and its segregated school system provide the backdrop against which we explore contemporary disparities across lines of race, socioeconomic status, and geography. The quality of education offered to Alabama students varies in ways that highlight structural inequalities, and access to the healthful aspects of nature also differ across socioeconomic lines. Birmingham, Alabama provides three examples of educational programs aligned with social justice activism methods that explore the human-nature connection with the broader goal of improving human well-being. A federally funded program field tests curriculum units in Alabama schools that teach evolution with human examples, develops students’ critical thinking skills, prepares them for STEM careers, and ensures they have the science literacy they need as adults. Urban school farm programs provide experiential learning opportunities that investigate nature as a source of food and health, and involve students in community-focused agricultural projects that combat local food deserts and public health issues related to nutrition. Physical education and outdoor recreation are important aspects of education and health that are practiced in nature, and the challenges associated with starting a Birmingham interscholastic mountain biking club illustrate how wealth disparities create barriers that prohibit equal access to nature for all individuals, and institutionalize the idea that nature is a place of leisure for the privileged elite. These examples of activism for social justice promote education about the human-nature connection, and highlight structures and systems that perpetuate poverty, which are important to consider when developing effective interventions.

  • “Pathways to Praxis: Moving from Peace Studies to Peace Activism”, Jim Handley (Senior Lecturer of Geography and Peace Studies, University of Wisconsin-Stout)

    Learning about peace, nonviolence, and social justice is different than doing peace, nonviolence, and social justice. This paper discusses strategies that help students move from theory to praxis and from classroom to activism.

  • “Faculty v. Goliath: The Marginalization of Faculty in Campus Efforts to Address Dating Violence and Sexual Assault”, Laura Finley (Associate Professor of Sociology & Criminology, Barry University)

    Although the Obama Administration paid far greater attention to sexual assault, and to a lesser extent, dating violence, on college campuses, there remains much work for colleges and universities in terms of responding appropriately when incidents are reported and in crafting effective prevention programs. Often, it is Student Affairs officials who are tasked with doing such, and while many do an admirable job, others fall short. Perhaps one of the reasons these efforts are less than comprehensive lies in the historic tensions between Student Affairs and Academic Affairs. On many campuses, faculty members are marginalized, discouraged, and uninvited from participating in such efforts.

    This paper addresses some of these issues, assessing the degree to which the reliance on Student Affairs officials for responding to and preventing dating and sexual violence results in limited and largely ineffective programs that are more about looking good than doing good. Recommendations for improvement are included.

  • “Building Nonviolent Theory-Practice and Gown-Town Relations Using Online Book Discussions of the Dandelion Insurrection”, Bill Warters (Assistant Professor and Director, Master of Arts in Dispute Resolution, Wayne State University)

    In the Spring of 2016 the MADR Program at Wayne State University hosted a multi-session video chat book discussion exploring Nonviolent Action for Community Change. Building on the success of a community engagement project known as the East Side Conflict Resolution Outreach (ESCRO) initiative, the Detroit-area project arranged to give away copies of the novel The Dandelion Insurrection by Rivera Sun (2013) The book was distributed via the public library and various community mediation centers and their volunteer networks. The book was also assigned to students in our final seminar course. The ensuing video chat discussions which brought together students and community activists and longtime mediators explored the nonviolent campaign chronicled in the book and made connections to our current situation. Special features included a guest appearance by author Rivera Sun and animated book plot summaries for participants who needed some catching up. In this session I’ll share the logistical details and lessons learned and talk with participants about potentially useful variations on this creative community engagement design model.

Resistance and Oppression – Panel

  • “Non-violence as a form of dissent in Turkey”, Doga Ulas Eralp (School of International Service, American University)

    Turkish democracy has been experiencing a significant authoritarian downturn over the last few years. Hundreds of thousands of academics, civil servants, military officials, and many from the judiciary lost their jobs and thousands received prison sentences as a result of the on-going purges by the Erdogan regime. Suicide has become common place among victims while many took up non-violent civic resistance and disobedience tactics such as sit-ins, hunger strikes or public acts of freezing. Turkish democratic opposition has a long history of resistance against military and civilian juntas but non-violence has never been at the front and center as today. Earlier experiences with hunger strikes in by radical leftist prisoners in high security detention centers ended tragically with the forceful intervention of security forces often costing the lives of the hunger strikers. This paper tracks the history of non-violence as a strategic tool of resistance in Turkey’s modern political history and explores its impact on the democratic discourse. Social media plays a very critical role in disseminating the effectiveness of non-violence among the progressive pro-democracy circles in Turkey in building coalitions across a variety of actors demanding democratic change and social justice. Feminist organizations, LGBT activist groups, environmentalists, Kurds, students and various opposition political parties have begun to adapt non-violence to claim whatever is left of the democratic space outside the Turkish parliament that has been practically put into deep freeze after the April 2017 Presidential Referendum granted executive powers to President Erdogan. The paper argues that non-violence offers an unprecedented opportunity for the democratic opposition to challenge Erdogan regime’s public legitimacy as it exposes its vulnerability against demands for sustainable peace, social justice and rule of law.

  • “Activists and Scholars on Managing Repression”, Lee A. Smithey (Associate Professor of Sociology and Peace and Conflict Studies, Swarthmore College), Lester R. Kurtz (Professor of of Sociology, George Mason University)

    The use of coercive force against nonviolent activists often backfires. Rather than undermining resistance, repression often fuels popular movements. When authorities respond to nonviolent people power with intimidation, coercion, and violence, they often undercut their own legitimacy, precipitating significant reforms or regime overthrow. This presentation will introduce the Paradox of Repression book project that brings together scholars and activists to address multiple dimensions of this phenomenon, including the potential for nonviolent strategy to raise the likelihood that repression will cost those who use it. For more information, visit http://paradox.swarthmore.edu

  • “Repression, Riot-ization and the Criminalization of Dissent Under Trump”, Michael Loadenthal (Visiting Professor of Sociology and Social Justice, Miami University & Executive Director, PJSA)

    In the first hours of Trump’s presidency, police on the ground in Washington, DC viciously attacked and arrested more than 200 individuals involved in an anti-capitalist and anti-fascist march blocks from the ceremony. These individuals were quickly charged with multiple felony counts and all are currently facing life sentences for ‘conspiring’ to ‘riot.’ This unprecedented legal maneuvering comes on the heels of anti-protest laws introduced in the final months of the Obama administration. These laws further criminalize certain forms of assembly, tactics and strategies, specially to combat movements opposing energy pipelines, the movement for Black lives, and the mass spontaneous demonstrations in response to presidential policy. What do these laws, strategies and rhetorics mean for the future of mass protest? What impact will the inauguration indictments have on subsequent mobilizations in the nation’s capital? How can activists best support those facing state repression and avoid becoming targeted? In this workshop we will a.) briefly explore this history, b.) discuss the state’s strategy in crafting its narrative, and, c.) discuss practical and potential ways to support those facing repression and act effectively despite these measures. (https://sub.media/video/trouble-4-no-justice-just-us/)

Trying to Move a Mountain: Restorative Justice and Systemic Racism in Urban Schools – Roundtable

Arthur Romano (Assistant Professor, School for Conflict Resolution and Analysis, George Mason University, Rochelle Arms (Doctoral student, School for Conflict Resolution and Analysis, George Mason University)

This session begins by highlighting recent research conducted by the facilitators which explores how conflict resolution practitioners with an explicit racial justice lens are responding to the demands of implementing Restorative Justice (RJ) processes in urban high schools. The restorative justice practitioners that were interviewed were primarily People of Color and were working in programs that had recently begun in multi-racial urban schools in the US.

The facilitated discussion will explore the challenges and opportunities that these racial justice practioners raised in their interviews and seek participants’ views on a number of key questions raised in this work such as:

•What practices contribute to strengthening restorative justice practices in schools so that they are more likely to produce racial justice outcomes? What forms of support are needed to support restorative justice practice that are focused on racial equity?

•What obstacles stand in the way of restorative justice practitioners with a commitment to racial justice in making positive changes in school climate?

•Is it possible for restorative justice to have a transformative impact in public schools in terms of racial justice given the long-standing practices of institutional racism in education in the US?

•Is restorative justice being used to uphold and legitimize institutional racism in schools and if so how are/can practioners work to change this?

•What responsibilities do members of the school community, beyond the restorative justice practitioners, have to ensure the success of restorative justice programs that are focused on racial justice? How can other stakeholders shape and support this work moving forward?

•What policy changes are needed to reinforce racial justice oriented restorative justice practices in schools?

Criminalization of Poverty- Roundtable

Jeffery T. Walker, Stacy C. Moak & Joyce Vance (University of Alabama at Birmingham)

As state, and particularly city, justice systems have become increasingly reliant on fines and fees, there is a corresponding negative effect on the poorest of the population. It is difficult for the poor to pay fines for minor crimes for which they have been arrested (even traffic tickets). When they cannot pay, they are assessed court fees further fines, that they also cannot pay. The result is often warrants that place the poor in jail. Even if for a short period of time, it can have strong negative effects, such as losing employment. Loss of employment can also come from having to go to court or serve community service. The overall result can be a loss of residence, loss of children, and a situation of homelessness. In the extreme, such criminalization of poverty can result in death in jail, such as the case with Michael Brown. This roundtable will discuss the criminalization of poverty and its deleterious effects on the poor and broader society. Methods that can reduce this impact through policy changes and problem solving courts will be discussed and proposed.

New Resources for Activism and Advocacy Teaching, Research, and Outreach – Workshop

Brian Woodman (Washington University Libraries in St. Louis), Scotty Kirkland (Alabama Department of Archives & History), Wayne Coleman (Birmingham Civil Rights Institute)

Research and teaching materials and tools in libraries and archives are more available than ever before, and yet often instructors, scholars, and the community members have a difficult time knowing how to secure access to and subsequently navigate library and archive collections. In their article “Accidentally Found on Purpose: Information-Seeking Behavior of Historians in Archives,” Wendy Duff and Catherine Johnson discovered that even active mid-career researchers had a difficult time becoming oriented to archives: “No matter how experienced researchers are, from time to time they will find themselves in a new archive, researching a new area, or examining an unfamiliar collection, resulting in stress, and in some cases, as sense of panic. One interview expressed that, “…My experience is that the first day is just confusing. Just confusing. … Because it’s so overwhelming.”[1]

Similarly, at a recent panel, “We the People: Voices Heard,” at the American Alliance of Museums (AAM), panelists discussed how, beyond the realm of research and instruction, it can be even more difficult to engage the larger local and national community in collections, whether because of institutional outreach approaches, last of relationship-building, or sometimes simple issues of public perception of an institution or the physical geography of a library or archive.[2]

This workshop hopes to introduce collections materials and new library and archive access tools for the sake of scholarship and instruction, with a focus on social justice and advocacy materials. Through presentations, panelists will give an overview of their collections and research tools to help demystify their collections for researchers and educators in the audience. Panelists will then discuss, and problematize, their modes of outreach to students, scholars, and larger communities outside of academia. The workshop will then open up to a constructive dialogue with the audience in order to both answer research and access questions related to audience members’ projects and to solicit the audience for feedback and ideas for how to better achieve institutional goals of increased collection access and outreach.

[1] Duff, Wendy and Johnson, Catherine A. Full

[2] “We the People: Voices Heard,” presentation at the 2017 American Alliance of Museums (AAM) conference, May 7, 2017, St. Louis Missouri.