Welcome to my blog! Every week, I will post at least one article on something involving wicked problems either in peacebuilding or comparative politics. I define those fields very broadly, so you’ll probably be surprised by some of the topics I end up covering.
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Last week, I had the privilege of participating in the first of five working conferences on the State of American Democracy held at my beloved alma mater, Oberlin College. It was organized by the college's rock star level professor, David Orr, a long-time climate change expert who has realized that the problems we face run far deeper than the environment and extend to the ways we govern ourselves at all. So, David assembled an amazing team of analysts and activists from the left and right to begin figuring out what we could and should do to address a set of issues that long antedated last November's election and only have been exacerbated since. We heard from well-known experts from the left (e.g. Reverend William Barber and Jane Mayer) and the right (JD Vance and Peter Wehner) as well as activists and analysts who specialize in political science, law, environmental studies, and social media. More importantly, the 150 or so participants took advantage of the time together to network and develop strategies that we could take forward in our home communities and on the issues we particularly worry about. My own takeaway was simple and added to urgency I have been feeling for the last few years. We live in a world of wicked problems whose causes and consequences are so inextricably intertwined that we cannot solve them separately, easily, or quickly--if we can solve them at all. At the very least, they require creative policy responses that are not [...]
The Alliance for Peacebuilding and Conciliation Resources recently conducted public opinion polls in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Germany.* The results surprised us all. Despite what the media and the pundits keep telling us, we actually are pretty much in agreement when it comes to war and peace. The survey demonstrated widespread support for peacebuilding efforts across all three countries. […]
I’m not a huge fan of award shows on television. Here’s one that I think is worth paying attention to even if its recipients won’t walk down some red carpet and be shown on some obscure cable network. The first Civvys will be awarded in October. As their web site puts it, “The Bridge Alliance and Big Tent Nation, organizations committed to the fight against partisan rancor and division, have joined forces to announce the first annual American Civic Collaboration Awards, or the Civvys.” […]
How do we build support for a more peaceful world in a country that is as divided as the United States is today? Given the events of the last months, including the violence in Charlottesville and the remarks made by President Trump in the days that followed that might seem like an impossible task. However, in the days after the protests, two things happened that give me hope. If we combine them, we could make some progress because both of these initiatives are encouraging. […]
I had a long call the other day with D. G. Mawn, Executive Director of NAFCM, the National Association for Community Mediation. We had actually just met a few weeks ago when we helped organize a meeting of American peacebuilders I discussed here a few weeks ago As we talked, D. G. referred to NAFCM at the best kept secret in American peacebuilding. Although I had known of the organization for years, I didn’t know much about it. On the assumption that he was bound to be right, I checked it out. […]
Last weekend, I helped organize and facilitate a workshop on how the peacebuilding community could respond and innovate in the tough political times that was held at George Mason University’s Point of View Retreat Center. In all, about fifty people representing networks of peacebuilders, community mediators, veterans, religious and spiritual leaders, data scientists, management consultants, and others spent two and a half days exploring the work we already do, finding overlapping efforts already under way, and laying out a schedule for what we could do together and separately until we gather again sometime next spring. […]