Books

Improv

Using Improv to Work With Those We Disagree With In his class, Doug Irvin-Erickson gave his grad students an assignment half way through the short summer semester. He broke them into teams and asked them to make presentations to the class on how peacebuilding and human rights overlapped—or didn’t as the course may be. Because I had had to miss the previous class, the students had decided that I would serve as a discussant and respond to each project. During the course of the semester, we had mostly focused on how the two fields differ. Human rights advocates focus on rights that they assume to be universal and innate—and all too often denied by the powers that be. [...]

Improv 2018-06-11T10:59:55+00:00

Excellence

Excellence and Peacebuilding I had planned to write a series of blog posts about teaching/learning about peacebuilding now that I’m writing the core of an introductory textbook on the subject. Before I heard Tom Peters being interviewed on the NPR program, 1A, I had not expected the first of those posts that I would deal with excellence in the first one I would be writing. Peters is, after all, one of the preeminent business management gurus of the last thirty years rather than a peacebuilder. However, as he talked about the themes in his new book, The Excellence Dividend and its associated website, Excellence Now.  I realized that a number of his points directly carried over into what [...]

Excellence 2018-04-09T14:58:09+00:00

Rethinking Power

Rethinking Power It’s about time for us to rethink what power means. I’ve felt that way for some time especially when I’ve had to think about the ways in which my work as a peacebuilder and as a political scientist do not mesh. It took reading Dacher Keltner’s The Power Paradox to have the pieces begin to fall into place. Keltner is a social psychologist who understands the traditional definition of power we political scientists have used at least since the time of Machiavelli. As Robert Dahl put it in the 1950s: A has power over B to the extent that he can get B to do something that B would not otherwise do. In other words, [...]

Rethinking Power 2018-02-05T13:12:24+00:00

Peacebuilding and Democracy

Peacebuilding and Democracy Until last Thursday afternoon, I was planning to write about what comparative politics research can do to help peacebuilders. Then, I ran into my friend Jim Pfiffner of George Mason University's Schar School of Policy and Government. Jim is a scholar of the presidency who has written books on judging the character of our chief executive--among many other things. Jim is also one of the most thoughtful people I know. And since we hadn't seen each other in ages and since we are both political scientists, our discussion immediately turned to the Trump presidency--even before we mentioned our grandkids. I had just finished reviewing Steven Levitsky and Danie Ziblatt's How Democracies Die. As we discussed [...]

Peacebuilding and Democracy 2018-01-21T16:44:35+00:00