LinkedIn asked its regular posters to think about what it calls #BigIdea2019. I don't normally make New Year's resolutions or predictions. But here's my big wish. I'll do what I can to make it happen.
I had planned to write about ideas peacebuilders could draw from the business world until I spoke at (and mostly listened) a workshop organized the Rondine Cittadella del Pace. I was blown away and decided to put off dealing with the business world until next week. The staff along with a number of current and former students came to the United States and Canada to launch their Leaders for Peace. The idea is simple. Rondine is asking the 193 UN member states to redirect part of their defense spending toward training young leaders for peace, the way it has for the last twenty years.
I learned a lesson a lot about building bridges with people we disagree with last week when Bob Jones visited, helped teach a class taught by Doug Irvin-Erickson, and then took me to meet Dave Johnson of C4ADS which used to be known as the Center for Advanced Defense Studies. What made Bob and Dave different is that they are both retired Army special forces colonels. So, when they stressed the same things I did, I couldn’t help but be reminded of Robert Putnam’s notion of bridging social capital and why it is so important at times like these. In our discussions last week, three themes rose to the surface. I hear all of them all of the time from colleagues in the peacebuilding world. What made them unusual here was the source. Bob, Dave, and others I know with military backgrounds have been saying these things for years. It’s time we started paying attention to them.
Ten days ago, I attended the Northeastern meeting of the International Studies Association to give a paper. Afterward, I stayed long enough to attend one more panel. I chose one on gender because I knew I would be writing about its role in peacebuilding in my textbook sometime in the next few weeks. It was a great choice because a number of the presentation forced me to (re)think about the role of gender in international relations in general and how we peacebuilders have (and haven’t) dealt with it. Three issues stood out, all of which will appear in expanded form in the book.