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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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.
I attended the Association for Conflict Resolution (ACR) conference last week in order to learn more about up-to-date tools used by mediators for my book and to begin the soft launch of a new initiative being led by ACR, the Alliance for Peacebuilding, George Mason's School for Conflict Analysis and resolution, and Rowman and Littlefield publishers. We have all decided that we need to expand the work that is being done so that win/win conflict resolution and the like become more central components of everything from our popular culture to our political decision making. We have a pretty good idea of what the problems we face happen to be. What's less clear--and what this initiative will address--are the unique skills we "bring to the table" and how we can best put them to use. While there, I listened a lot and gave two short talks which I've summarized here.
I just got home from planning my fiftieth reunion at Oberlin College. I owe pretty much everything I am politically and professionally to the place, so I do what I can to help the place. In this case, I had two sets of reactions that seemed worth sharing on the six hour drive my hybrid and I had coming home last night.