School of Conflict Management, Peacebuilding and Development

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Community Empowerment in Conflict Settings: Uniting Alumni and Current Students for Post-Conflict Reconstruction Training

Last weekend, Dr. Volker Franke united master students, PhD students, and alumni from both programs for an exciting take on his Peacebuilding Assessment and Case Writing course. The class enabled participants to apply specific conflict management skills to the analysis of complex emergencies, international conflict and/or post-conflict reconstruction. Through classroom discussion, exercises and role play, students developed policy recommendations and designed and planned strategies for conflict prevention and intervention. This year, the exercise was designed specifically to enable local and regional actors to negotiate better multi-party agreements in complex settings. The exercise, simulating key stakeholder positions in the "water wars" between Georgia, Florida and Alabama, applied and tested a conceptual model and a "shared information platform" developed by Dr. Eric Wolterstorff, who, through his company Sovereignty First (http://sovereigntyfirst.com/), has been actively engaged in peacebuilding efforts in Jordan and Syria. 

Together, with their colleague Mary Dumas, an independent dispute resolution practitioner, Drs. Franke and Woltertstorff lead the class/workshop and conducted the exercises to "lab test" some of the key concepts and tools before they are released to the field in the training of US military officers, humanitarian workers operating in post-conflict reconstruction and reintegration efforts. The idea underlying the exercise, and subsequently the training of conflict management practitioners, is that enabling critical actors in a conflict to share their perceptions and values in a safe, open and supportive environment, enhances their understanding for the perceptions of others, empowers them to recognize value congruence and work toward broadly shared community based conflict transformation processes and structures.

Participants in this workshop honed their empathetic listening skills and learned how to better understand diverse perspectives in complex and conflict settings, how to assess levels of national capacity to respond to existential threats, how to create a shared information platform, develop an actors map, design a comprehensive needs assessment, apply group response-to-threat methodology and transform the political sphere to open platforms. This unique opportunity to unite members of the SCMPD family allowed students and alumni alike to be part of a meaningful deployment preparation training and reconstruction application designed to be used in actual conflict management strategy. 

The feedback received from current students and alumni about opening new learning opportunities to the KSU conflict management family was very positive.

As one recent MSCM alumnae commented:

"Not only did I get to learn about a fascinating new tool for peace building (seriously amazing!), but I got to do it alongside people at all different levels of their professional and academic careers, whose perspectives gave added depth to the material.  It was also fascinating to see Volker, Eric, and Mary working in tandem, building off each other's very different experiences, and adapting methodologies on the fly to explore new possibilities."

SCMPD would like to provide more opportunities like these to friends and alumni in the future. Stay tuned.

 


Posted: August 28, 2017