Promoting Peace through the Transformative Learning of Students and Teachers – Panel
Rebecca Oxford (Adjunct Instructor, UAB), Josephine Prado (Assistant Professor, UAB), Laurie Amberson (Graduate Student, UAB), John Marc Green (Graduate Student, UAB), Melinda Harrison (Graduate Student, UAB), Gonul Uguralp Cannon, Margaret Lawrence
Transformative learning is formal or informal learning that makes a fundamental change in someone’s (Merriam & Bierema, 2014). This change can be mostly cognitive (Mezirow, 2000) and/or can involve “emotional soul work” (Dirkx, 2012). We explore questions concerning the following: the meaning of transformative learning, linkages between transformational learning and peace dimensions, and panelists’ experiences with peace-fostering transformative learning. Panelists include five University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) graduate students (Melinda, John Marc, Laurie, Gonul, and Peg) and two UAB teacher educators (Josephine and Rebecca). They are in the program in English as a Second Language and also have backgrounds beyond education and multilingualism: journalist, U.N. worker, military research psychologist, tango dancer, poet, and scholar with a disability.
Josephine explains how she experiences the intersection of language, culture, and education. One of her greatest professional joys is to witness a graduate student gain the insight of multiple perspectives and empathy. In her view, transformations are personal and in many ways unique to the individual, but, as each of us grows in understanding and compassion, we can strive for harmonious and peaceful interactions among ourselves. Melinda not only cites her own transformative learning and her search for inner peace, but she also describes how she facilitates peace to support her international learners in their transformational journeys as they enter the U.S. university setting. She helps students negotiate the sociopolitical context and deal with linguistic prejudice on the university campus. John Marc explains “Othering,” a psychological algorithmic sorting mechanism often misapplied to human relationships. It involves failing to create “in-group” membership and common ground with strangers and produces bias and disenfranchisement. As a journalist, John Marc presents his three-fold strata model of identity based on “transformational peace-making” strategies for finding mutuality with members of the public.
Laurie depicts her graceful transformation from a person who accepted her rural Southern community’s widely held attitudes toward immigrants, especially undocumented ones, to a person who looks at immigrants with totally new eyes and has become supportive and involved in the lives of these people. In Gonul’s native Turkish culture, all the prayers of mothers said to be are fulfilled. Perhaps that is why she taught English there for 23 years. She took a sharp turn by moving here, marrying an Alabamian, and becoming a full-time graduate student. Now she looks at language and culture very differently. Peg describes her early belief: “I have much to offer the world as a white American: education, eloquence, empathy, language, and wealth.” However, when her three-year-old, blue-eyed son practiced football drills with African American children and those children’s caring fathers helped him master intellectual/physical skills, she learned to be multicultural. Rebecca shares some of her transformative learnings: rejecting pervasive whiteness in psychological research; recognizing vast gifts in the 43 countries she has visited; and promoting feminism, racial fairness, elder rights, disability rights, animal rights, and, of course, peacebuilding, which embraces all the other qualities.
Autoethnographies of Peace—Religious/Humanitarian Stories – Panel
Chair: Wim Laven, “How being raised fundamentalist Christian lead me to study and understand the Islamic State,” (Joel Elliott), “From India to Iowa: Translating Sarvodaya,” (Swasti Bhattacharyya), “Life and Death at the Bottom of the World: Humanitarianism’s Acceptable Losses,” (Bryan Hutcheson)
Autoethnographies of Peace—this panel looks at the critical reflective of personal narratives within the larger context of wider cultural, ideological, philosophical political, and social meanings and understandings. Panelists answer questions such as, how did my experience of peace or exposure to violence change the trajectory of my life? What do I know now that I wish I would have known earlier in life? The answers, however, look at the reflective of lessons learned from families and communities during periods of stability and crisis and how those answers, in turn, became internalized and challenged. Our experiences and sources of knowledge have differed but they have delivered similar goals and motivations, these narratives are important.
Crucible Steel: Creative Expression and Human Rights – Panel
Sandra Sprayberry (Birmingham-Southern College), Ansleigh Davies, Kendal Harris, and Veena Krishnanstudents (students, Birmingham-Southern College)
This session describes professor and student experiences in Honors course(s) at Birmingham-Southern College that combine research in civil/human rights issues and creative writing and literary study. The professor will discuss course design and intended outcomes and the students will reflect on their experiences and will share some of their writing. Martin Luther King, Jr., said, “. . . life is hard, at times as hard as crucible steel. It has its bleak and difficult moments. Like the ever-flowing waters of the river, life has its moments of drought and its moments of flood.” We are excited to share our classroom experiences, our crucibles. We welcome discussion and idea-exchange.
Peace Systems – Panel
- “Key Variables for Peace Among the Iroquois”, Benjamin Maddox (Department of Anthropology, University of Alabama at Birmingham)I intend to do present a Power Point slide show highlighting and defining key variables exhibited by the Iroquois which contributed to peace. The variables of focus will come from Dr. Douglas Fry’s article “Life Without War” as well as Dr. Charles Kupchan’s book “How Enemies Become Friends”. The common elements of peace systems to be explored include:
Overarching social identity (one people, brotherhood, nation)
Interconnections (among subgroups through marriage, exchange of warriors, healers, and so forth)
Interdependence (security, environmental, and economic)
Ceremonies, symbols, and rituals that reinforce peace
Inter-group conflict management
Visionary leadership for peace
Compatible social orders
The purpose of this presentation is to illustrate the contributing factors that made peace possible for the Iroquois, define these factors, and give detailed examples of each. Additionally, it is important in this presentation to represent the purposefulness with which the Iroquois developed a foundation for a peaceful nation as such a model is still relevant/useful today.
- “Alternative security – Alternatives to war”, Patrick Hiller (Executive Director, War Prevention Initiative)In the United States, peace advocates face the major challenge of being perceived as naïve and weak when it comes to questions of security. Moreover, there is a predominant public perception that there is an overwhelming threat of violence in a dangerous world. These perceptions uphold a war system, which in dominates policies, practices, knowledge, expert-opinions, media-narratives, education, etc. In other words, it pervades all sectors of society.Knowledge, practice and evidence from peace and conflict studies demonstrates that humans know better and more effective alternatives to war and violence. The Alternative Global Security System concept rejects the failed system of national security and replaces it with the concept of common security – no one is safe until all are safe. This system relies on three broad strategies for humanity to end war: 1) demilitarizing security, 2) managing conflicts without violence, and 3) creating a culture of peace. This concept builds and expands upon the growing recognition of peace systems perspectives by constructing a security narrative that does not rely on militarism. The Alternative Global Security System concept is introduced as a framework that can inform scholars and practitioners to situate the many known viable alternatives to war in a system with synergistic components.
- “Letting the U.S. Off the Hook? U.S. Peace Organizations and Post-Conflict Justice”, Loramy Gerstbauer (Gustavus Adolphus College)What happens to peace movements after the fighting is over, but justice is not obtained? Using the cases of the Vietnam War, the Solidarity movement in Nicaragua in the 1980s, and the more recent example of the Iraq war protest groups, this paper examines what happened to organizations in each of these cases after the initial conflict was over. Organizations that had been involved in countering U.S. foreign policy, for the most part, did not seek to hold the U.S. government accountable for what they perceived as post-conflict justice (reparations, settlement of the World Court case in Nicaragua, legal accountability for actors in the U.S., etc.). Using the reconciliation and transitional justice literature, and interviews and data from select organizations, this strategic organizational choice is examined, as well as its effects on reconciliation and justice at inter-state and domestic levels.
PJSA Publications Committee: Recent Developments and Opportunities – Panel
Michael Minch (Utah Valley University), Laura Finley (Associate Professor of Sociology & Criminology, Barry University), Michael Loadenthal (Visiting Professor of Sociology and Social Justice, Miami University & Executive Director, PJSA), Brendan Newman (Miami University, Co-editor of PJSA’s Peace Chronicle
Peacebuilding in Africa – Panel
Moderator: Elavie Ndura
- “How Aid Organizations Become Party to Land Conflicts: An Exploration of Peacebuilding and Development Programs in Eastern Congo”. Lily Kruglak (Juniata College)In conflict and recently post-conflict settings, peacebuilding and development are becoming increasingly interwoven fields, generating projects and programs that address the drivers and impacts of violence. However, limited research exists on the projects that operate in the nexus between peacebuilding and traditional development, including the full scope of these programs’ intended and unintended impacts on conflict. In particular, there is little analysis into how land tenure issues and land conflict issues impact peacebuilding and development projects. Aid organizations become party to complicated and potentially harmful dynamics when implementing land-dependent peacebuilding and development programs. In Eastern Congo, the protracted conflict and the convoluted land tenure system further exacerbates the challenge aid organizations face when navigating land access. However, little research has focused on how organizations access and use land negatively contributes to the prevailing conflict systems. This research begins to fill the gap in peacebuilding and development literature, examining the processes and impacts of land-dependent programs through the conceptual framework of Do No Harm. While research exists on the legal pluralism embedded in the Congolese land tenure system, the connection between land, identity, and conflict, and land as a source of resource based conflict, there is little, if any research on how NGOs and aid organizations become party to conflict dynamics when they access and use land within that complex setting.
- “Local Peacebuilding- customary law and pastoralist conflict in Kenya and Uganda”, Emily Welty (Director of Peace and Justice Studies, Pace University)Conflict transformation in the Karamoja region of Northern Uganda and the North Rift region of Kenya provide an insightful case study into the power of locally led peace initiatives. Pastoralist conflict in this region of East Africa has been marked by increasingly violent clashes between different ethnic groups. Government-led initiatives to disarm groups have not only faltered but have in some cases worsened the conflict by deepening the asymmetry of access to arms.While the violence waged by the Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda or the post-election violence in Kenya received worldwide media attention, ongoing pastoralist conflict in Uganda and Kenya have received little examination. Pastoralist conflict has too often been dismissed as unimportant or as “just the way things are” perhaps because understanding such conflict is often not in the greater strategic interests of regional or international Powers.While colonial and post-colonial rule differed in Kenya and Uganda, both states share in common a structure which privileges the urban centers over rural areas and settled cultivator over nomadic pastoralists. This has manifested both in terms of underdevelopment of “peripheral” regions where pastoralist people live but also a neglect of the government’s role in conflict resolution. This left communities to address issues with systems of customary law.
However, efforts by local peace groups have created new innovative peace agreements that have actively reduced violence in the region. In the North Rift region of Kenya, bordering Uganda, peacebuilders in pastoralist communities have responded to conflict over cattle by facilitating local agreements rooted in customary law.
Gender, Conflict and Peace – Panel
- “Strengthening Our Understanding of Gender, Religion and Conflict: The Potential of Feminist Participatory Action Research”, Sheherazade Jafari (Director, Point of View International Retreat and Research Center, School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution, George Mason University)This paper considers the potential of feminist participatory action research (PAR) to address some of the limitations within current research on religion and conflict. Despite the growth in scholarship on religion in conflict and conflict resolution, gender often remains missing in the analysis and women’s voices are silenced. In practice, despite the growth of faith-based peacebuilding, it remains largely elite religious men who are invited to peacemaking tables. Further, many feminist scholars and practitioners continue to have an uneasy relationship with religion all together, resulting in a further marginalization of religious women’s voices and agency. Yet faith-based women’s groups often play key roles in helping their communities heal, reconcile, rebuild, and prevent future conflict. Feminist PAR approaches, which put women’s and other traditionally marginalized voices at the center of analysis, can serve as an important method for strengthening conflict resolution research and practice by bringing to the surface religious women’s unique perspectives, insights, and access to their communities. By including women as co-creators of the research process and building theory based on their experiences, feminist PAR also helps to breakdown some of the continued harmful assumptions and power dynamics within feminist scholarship that is historically rooted in Western secularism.
- “Does the Glass Ceiling Really Exist?”: How to Build a Gender Inclusive Culture in the Workplace”, Yeju Choi (Kennesaw State University)Recently, corporations, such as Tesla and Uber, were sued for gender discrimination against female engineers in the workplace. Likewise, one of the most prominent corporations in Silicon Valley, Google, was accused of underpaying their female engineers. Although there is a neoliberal push in society to encourage people to go into STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) fields and a simultaneous move to address the gender pay and equity gaps in these fields, approximately 40 percent of women who earn engineering degrees still leave their profession. What factors affect female decisions regarding entrance and retention in the engineering profession in the United States? To answer this question, this study uses both an online survey and semi-structured interviews to create a portrait of the professional arc of female engineers from choosing their major through their decision to stay or leave the field. By providing overarching and in-depth experiences of female engineers, this study presents stories of discrimination, empowerment, equity, and prejudice. The findings of this study will contribute to the understanding of female employees’ experiences in male-dominated professions. Also, this study aims to improve the workplace culture by helping employers and organizations understand how to build a gender inclusive culture in the workplace.
- “A Theory of Domination: Race, Class, Gender, and the Missing Fourth Term”, Gordie Fellman (Brandeis University)The triad of dominations race, class, and gender is widely familiar. Of course we can see how they intersect, but what is not asked is, Is there an underlying set of issues that bind these systems together by way of a fourth form of domination still more subtle and complex than the three familiar ones yet powerfully intersecting with them all. I think there is, and I see it as revealing a dimension of domination heretofore not examined.
- “On Women’s Human Rights: A Visual Cross-Cultural Comparison”, Mayra Bonet (NECC-Haverhill)In the last 100 years, the advancing of women’s voices and participation can be documented in the First and Second World War, the civil rights movement, the Women’s Peace Party, and the subsequent establishment of the Women’s League for Peace and Freedom. Nonetheless, the United Nation Security Council reports that “Between 1992 and 2011, four per cent of signatories to peace agreements and less than ten per cent of negotiators at peace tables were women.” In Berlin, in June 2012, two international workshops addressed women’s exclusion from peace negotiations that led to an in-depth assessment of the obstacles they encounter to transform inequality. The report, Promoting Women’s Participation in Peace Negotiation and Peace Processes, concludes that “There is no single most important factor that ensures the effective participation of women in peace negotiations and processes” (65). Three years later, in the report Reimagining Peacemaking: Women’s Role in Peace Processes, Marie O’Reilly and her colleagues tackle the sharp disparity from a comparative country viewpoint, quotas for inclusion, qualitative and quantitative analysis, and gender roles in society. In their concluding remarks, the researchers focus on four strategies to foster women’s participation: “build coalitions based on normative and strategic arguments; establish a credible selection process; create the condition to make women’s voices heard; and keep power politics—and the public—in mind” (35). The above-mentioned reports underline a twofold women’s endeavor, their struggles to increase the number of participants in peace agreements, and their activism to alter their exclusion on peace processes. Furthermore, these reports trigger fundamental queries about the access to women’s participation from different spectrums of the society on critical matters that pertain to their contribution to their existence.My research findings suggest that the utmost instrument of women’s resistance and resilience have been demonstrations and marches because they embody the appropriation of public spheres to raise awareness in a myriad of universal issues interlaced with human rights across the globe. The demonstrations epitomize the evolvement of women’s human rights with regards to diversity, education, economic and social class, age, and traditions as instruments that have enriched the dialogue on human rights in the present era. Consequently, in this paper/presentation, I will conduct a semiotic analysis of the evolution of women’s demonstrations in their quest for human rights through the lenses of a symbolic and visual narrative that underscores their leadership, creativity, and public performance. The analysis aims to contextualize women’s demonstrations from a comparative country perspective where women have been instrumental to “build coalitions” (O’Reilly et al., 35). Lastly, another objective of this paper consists of briefly highlighting human rights pedagogical approaches from a visual standpoint. In the digital age and visual culture, women’s portrayal to enhance human rights represent a persuasive storytelling scenario that enriches additional peace process conversations, citizens’ engagement, and gender divide discussions.
Creative Methods for Addressing Violence in America – Panel
Leif Carlson, Mike Klein, Christina McLaughlin
The panel/symposium “Creative Methods of Addressing Violence in America” will present the work of three artists and practitioners in social justice: Mike Klein, Christina McLaughlin, and Leif Carlson.
Mike Klein is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Justice and Peace Studies at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, MN, and also a practicing artist. His work has largely focused on community murals as an expression of identity and agency related to social justice. More recently, Mike joined the Pillsbury United Communities in Minneapolis to use creativity to address violence through sculpture as an #ArtisMyWeapon artist: https://artismyweapon.org. Along with 39 other local artists, Mike creates work using decommissioned guns from the streets of Minneapolis. The project is inspired by “Guns in the Hands of Artists” by New Orleans artist and gallery owner, Jonathan Ferrera. Mike will use his time during the panel to cover both his mural art and his sculptural work with #ArtisMyWeapon.
Christina McLaughlin has a Post Graduate Diploma in Play Therapy, a Masters Degree in Peace and Conflict Studies with Children, and is currently in the MBA program at UMass, Boston. Christina developed a peace intervention program called the CAI Model (Community, Attachment, and Identity), which uses art and storytelling for children aged 7-11 years old. The CAI Model is a guide to implementing a peaceful intervention. It is still in its infancy with development, with the goal of implementation within a school or community. Christina will speak about the program from a child development theory perspective and how the guide will be used.
Leif Carlson has an MA in Religious Studies with an emphasis in Peace and Justice from Earlham School of Religion, as well as MFA in Photography from the Savannah College of Art and Design. Leif’s thesis work (Simunition: Gun Culture in America) was on American gun culture, and used photographic, video, and sculptural work to explore this topic. Through a variety of means including the use of silhouettes, repetition, and installation, Simunition visualizes statistics, confronts race, reverses the anonymity of victimhood, and communicates the responsibility of media in gun violence. Leif uses appropriated images from American media to portray the existing gun culture, and emphasize that media and access to firearms contribute to the gun violence epidemic we face in America today. Leif will use his time during the panel to view some of this exhibition, watch a clip from his video piece, Recoil (2016), and explore current work related to this theme.
The goal of this panel is to offer a few examples of artistic ways of addressing violence in society. The intention is to leave adequate room for Q&A, as well as brainstorming additional ways to address violence through creative means.
“Disturbing the Peace” – Film
Steve Apkon & Marcina Hale, Re-Consider
Disturbing the Peace is about people born into conflict, sworn to be enemies, who challenged their fate. The film follow everyday people who took extraordinary actions by standing for what they believe in, just like those who came before them – Martin Luther Kind, Jr., Rosa Parks, Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandel and many others whose names we don’t know. The movie challenges all of us – to understand the narratives we live within, to look at our current roles in our societies, and to decide what role we are going to play in creating a more humane world, for all. And it starts with our willingness to disturb the peace.