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.
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….
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.
This week, my friend Doug Irvin-Erickson is off in Norway for a conference on genocide prevention, so I get to teach his class on the nature of conflict. Since he actually covered much of that topic the first session, I decided to cast a very broad net to set the analytical and political agenda for the course—and for the rest of the students’ lives.