Over the last twenty years, I’ve spent most of my time as a peacebuilding practitioner. However, I recently found myself spending more time in academia again. That got me thinking about how the ways we train young peacebuilding professionals affects the field and vice versa. Musings turned into serious thinking when I was asked to write an introductory textbook on conflict resolution and peacebuilding. It really got serious when I was asked to blurb Agniezka Paczynska and Susan Hirsch’s new book, Conflict Zone, Comfort Zone.
There are people who do what they call peace journalism and cover stories that, well, deal with peace. Here, I present the ideas of another set of journalists who may offer us even more, because they are grappling with the best ways to cover conflict that can lead to more constructive options.
When I was a student, the words peace and the military were rarely uttered in the same sentence. I was for peace. That meant I wanted nothing to do with the military. When it came time for the draft, I became a conscientious objector. Fifty years later, I talk about peace and the military together a lot. In fact, I spend a good bit of my time building bridges with current and former members of the American military. It started out on a quirky way. I reconnected with a childhood friend who had been a career officer and ran a think tank to help people in the defense community think outside the clichéd box. We realized we had a lot in common and ended up doing the q and a session at a launch party for one of my books two days after 9/11.
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….