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.
Subscribe for my newsletter to learn about new posts, and other things that cross my desk. Topic suggestions are also welcome; I invite you to submit ideas through our contact form.
Doug Irvin-Erickson and I are in the home stretch of writing our peace and conflict studies textbook. That means that we have two challenges. Finishing the few topics we haven’t fully covered yet. Pulling the whole thing together so that in a way that grabs the attention of its readers. Although we had planned to focus on the former for the next few weeks, our bosses (aka our editors) asked us to do the latter. In the end, we realized we have been writing an unusual book because we felt the need to make it interesting, challenging, and empowering. Unusual, interesting, challenging, and empowering are rarely words one associates with textbook, so I thought it would be useful to spell out why we are doing so in a blog post that will, in turn, help us polish the final draft of the all-important first chapter.
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.
I just ended a hectic month of traveling with two conferences in the space of a single weekend. I presented a paper on corruption and peacebuilding at the Northeast Regional meeting of the International Studies Association that wasn’t half as interesting as a panel on gendered approaches to international relations which I’ll write about next week. Far more interesting in the short run was the day I spent with a group of community college teachers who were attending an annual conference organized by David Smith. I try to attend whenever I can, but this year I had to drag myself onto the Metro yesterday morning, because I was exhausted from all of the travel and meetings….
The Alliance for Peacebuilding held its annual conference last week. With more than 600 attendees at an open day at the United States Institute of Peace and more than 300 at two more days for our members, it was by far the largest such event we’ve ever put on. We also learned more than we have in any other year. Some of that came in larger sessions, some of which had keynote speakers. These will appear on the AfP web site sooner rather than later.
The Alliance for Peacebuilding will be hosting its annual conference, PeaceCon this week, October 24-26. As usual, the first day is held at USIP and is open to the public free of charge. The other two days are at FHI360 and does have a registration fee. Over 450 people are registered to attend at least one of the three days. Also as usual, the conference will include plenary talks, working groups, and lots of discussions in the hallway. It is a time for professionals in the field to learn about cutting edge practices and to address some new challenges that are usually presented in the plenary sessions.
In 2013, Mary Anderson and Marshall Wallace published Opting Out of War. The book chronicles and analyzes thirteen places where average citizens and their leaders consciously decided not to take part in a war that was swirling around them. Last week, Doug Irvin-Erickson had his introductory students work with their ideas, and they came up with some ideas that we all should consider because they can be applied back to countries in crisis today, including the United States.