Meet Eben Weitzman ’84 Conflict Resolution Professor and Consider Graduate Study

Eben Weitzman '84 and George Lakey

Prof. Eben Weitzman ’84 and Prof. George Lakey at the 2012 PJSA meetings

It was great to have the opportunity to meet Eben Weitzman ’84 at the Peace and Justice Studies Association meetings at Tufts University during the fall 2012 semester. Prof. Weitzman was sharing information at the meetings about programs in conflict resolution at the University of Massachusetts, where he teaches.

He has kindly written a blog post about his Swarthmore experience and his career in conflict resolution studies:

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My experience at Swarthmore provided the foundation for the directions my life has taken, especially my work in peace and conflict resolution.  The combination of Swarthmore’s roots in the Quaker tradition of commitment to peace and justice on the one hand, and its dedication to intellectual rigor on the other, spoke to me, inspired me, and gave me the tools I would need.
When I went looking for a Ph.D. mentor, I came across the great social psychologist Morton Deutsch—one of the founders of the field of conflict resolution—at Columbia University.  Mort would often say that he was looking for people with soft hearts and hard heads. I think this is about as important an idea as any for those of us in the conflict resolution business, and Swarthmore had already done a lot to help shape me in this direction.  Why soft hearts and hard heads?
Soft Hearts: If you work with conflict, chances are you do it because you care about something enough to do challenging, sometimes painful work.  That’s good.  The world needs more people like you.
Hard Heads:  Here’s the tricky part.  It’s good to be a softie.  It’s good to let your caring and your compassion drive your work.  But: Once you settle on a problem, now you have to think carefully, clearly, deeply, and systematically about the problem you’re trying to solve.
  • You have to hold yourself to high standards.
  • You have to subject your work to rigorous test, whether it’s empirical research or practice in the field.
  • You have to be willing to accept answers you don’t like.
Because as much as the world needs more people who care, what the world needs even more is people who care, and who also have what it takes to do something about the things they care about.  Swarthmore’s grounding in Quaker values, and its commitment to providing what I believe is one of the finest intellectual preparations you can find, is a perfect incubator for the soft-hearted, hard-headed people the world of peace and conflict resolution needs.
As a political science major at Swat with strong interests in psychology and philosophy as well, I had the opportunity to study political science with an eye on questions of justice, to learn about political philosophy, ethics, political psychology, cultural anthropology, and more.  And as any Swat student knows, being surrounded by dedicated, committed, engaged, visionary fellow students was one of the most important parts of the whole experience.  That’s one of the reasons both of my sons are studying there now.
I graduated from Swarthmore in 1984.  Since then I’ve earned a Ph.D. in social psychology, and had the opportunity to work with labor unions and human rights NGOs, corporations and schools, hospitals, animal rescue networks, Federal disaster relief teams, and more.  Right now I’m engaged with a project in Nigeria working on peace building between Christians and Muslims; a project here in Boston that provides dialogue channels between the federal law enforcement agencies and the local Muslim and Sikh communities; a group that uses the sport of Ultimate Frisbee (Go Earthworms and Warmothers!) to bring together Arab Israeli, Jewish Israeli, and Palestinian kids;  a project to promote more effective teamwork in local hospitals; and a leadership development and strategic planning process with a local union.

Eben Weitzman '84

Above all, the focus in my professional life is educating the next generation of peacemakers.  I direct the Graduate Programs in Conflict Resolution at UMass Boston, and I chair the Department of Conflict Resolution, Human Security and Global Governance in which those programs are located.  Our program here is driven by the orientation I’ve described here: it’s all about cultivating soft hearts and hard heads.

The program is designed to provide students with the ability to understand, effectively manage, and intervene in conflict situations that arise among individuals and groups, locally and globally. Students explore the causes, dynamics, and consequences of conflict in a variety of settings; they learn techniques of conflict analysis and resolution, problem solving, and collaborative decision making; and develop skills in negotiation, mediation, dialogue and facilitation.

Within UMass Boston we are housed in the John W. McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies, a dynamic environment that houses three academic departments as well as numerous centers and institutes. These provide opportunities for students to participate in research and field projects locally and globally. Conferences and lectureships allow students to network with outstanding scholars and practitioners from a variety of fields.

Students come to our programs from six continents and more than thirty countries, bringing a wide range of backgrounds and a rich diversity of experience. Some are midcareer, while others arrive directly from undergraduate degree programs.

We have 2 current Fulbrights studying with us from abroad, and 8 new Fulbright applicants for the Fall!

Alumni of our programs are doing exciting and important things in a variety of settings; examples include:

Direct mediation services
United Nations ; World Bank
Superior Court of the District of Columbia
Metro-West Community Mediation

Ombuds offices
Princeton and Cornell Universities
National Institutes of Health
American Red Cross

Business and Non-Profits
eBay and PayPal (online dispute resolution)
Human Resources, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care
Mass General Hospital
Advocacy for Refugee & Immigrant Services for Empowerment
Ministry of Energy, Nigeria

Our beautiful campus on Boston Harbor offers our diverse student population both an intimate learning environment and the rich experience of a great American city.

I would love to hear from Swarthmore students looking for graduate study in conflict resolution, or even just curious to learn more about the field. Another good contact is our Associate Director, Roni Lipton roni.lipton (at) umb.edu

Please note that our deadline is fast approaching: it’s March 15!! If you are interested but may not be able to get things together by the deadline, please reach out to me directly and we’ll work with you.

Please also consider joining us in April for a 2-day symposium on Bridging Global Religious Divides, and consider submitting a paper for next October’s 10th Biennial Student Conference: “Conflict Studies: The Next Generation of Ideas.

I look forward to hearing from you!

Contact Information:
Eben A. Weitzman, Ph.D.
eben.weitzman (at) umb.edu
617-287-7238

Aden Tedla ’12 continues to work on public policy, intersectionality, and nonviolent action

Life has been great (and really hectic!) here at the Kennedy School.  I am in my first year of my graduate studies program, and have finally adjusted to the pace of my new life here in Cambridge/Boston. I’ve decided to concentrate in International and Global Affairs while here (it’s the school’s diplomacy and human rights track).

Aden_TedlaCurrently, I am serving as an editor for both the Harvard Journal of Hispanic Policy and the Journal of African American Public Policy.  I am also interning with the Carr Center for Human Rights, where we are working to bring an intersectional lens to public policy issues.  Fun fact: During our January Term, the Carr Center offered a course on Non-Violent Direct Action, which it co-taught with former Otpor! students — so it’s been great to see the discussion on non-violent direct action expand to this space!

Overall, I am learning and growing in more ways here at HKS than I had ever imagined, and am meeting incredibly talented and dedicated people every day.  Thank you Swarthmore (my community, friends, professors) for preparing me for such a challenging and incredible journey!

Bio:
Aden Tedla is currently pursuing a Master in Public Policy degree at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, where she is concentrating in International and Global Affairs.  She is a civil rights advocate and community organizer, with interests in popular education, human rights, non-violent direct action, and international development

During her undergraduate years at Swarthmore College, Aden served as an advocate for diversity issues through the Intercultural Center and Black Cultural Center.  She is co-founder of Swarthmore Overlaps, a student publication that seeks to facilitate the discussion of political, cultural, and social issues that are often left out of the mainstream discourse. 

Aden also served as a student researcher for the Global Non-violent Action Database (http://nvdatabase.swarthmore.edu/), an online resource that provides free information about non-violent action campaigns and tactics.  As a Philip Evans Scholar, she was also able to travel to and study in countries including Peru, Ethiopia, Kenya, Egypt, and Israel.  Upon graduating from Swarthmore College in 2012, she served as an Organizing Fellow for the Obama for America campaign team.

Amy Kapit ’06 studies education in situations of armed conflict

The website of the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development at New York University shares information about Amy Kapit’s (peace and conflict studies minor class of 2006) work on education in situations of armed conflict. We excerpt some of it here.  Read More.

Amy_Kapit_1_NYUWhy did you choose to pursue a Doctoral degree in International Education?

After graduating from Swarthmore College, where I majored in religion and peace and conflict studies, I worked for a couple years on educational advocacy relating to the Israeli and Palestinian conflict. During this time, I became particularly interested in the way that education can shape historical narratives, social identities, and political opinions. I decided that I wanted to contribute to knowledge and research on the subject, focusing on the role of education in situations of armed conflict: how conflict affects education and how education affects conflict, potentially serving to either mitigate and exacerbate it.

Research focus:

I look at how the humanitarian community is addressing the problem of attacks on education (violence, harassment, and threats against students, teachers, and schools in areas of armed conflict). More specifically, I focus on the work of humanitarian actors in the occupied Palestinian territory and the linkages between what is occurring there and global advocacy efforts.

Publications:

  • Kapit-Spitalny, Amy and Burde, Dana (2011). Annex 1: Prioritizing the Agenda for Research for the Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack: Why Evidence is Important, What We Know, and How to Learn More. In Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack. Report from the Knowledge Roundtable on Programmatic Measures in Prevention, Intervention and Response to Attacks on EducationNovember 8-11, 2011 Phuket, Thailand. New York, NY: GCPEA, pp. 29-46.
  • Burde, Dana, Kapit-Spitalny, Amy, Wahl, Rachel, and Guven, Ozen (2011). Education and Conflict Mitigation: What the Aid Workers Say. Washington, DC: USAID.
  • Guven, Ozen, Kapit-Spitalny, Amy, and Burde, Dana (contracted and submitted, 2011). The Education of Former Child Soldiers: Finding a Way Back to Civilian Identity. Education Above All.
  • Burde, Dana, Kapit-Spitalny, Amy, Wahl, Rachel, and Guven, Ozen (contracted and submitted, 2010). Education in Emergencies: A Literature Review of What Works, What Does Not, and Why. Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation.
  • Miller-Idriss, Cynthia and Kapit, Amy (2009). Book Review: Promoting Conflict or Peace Through Identity by Nikki Slocum-Bradley (Ed.). Journal of Intercultural Studies, 30(4), pp. 431-433.

What are your career goals?

I want to work for an international humanitarian agency on issues relating to education in emergencies, using my knowledge and research experience to inform programming and advocacy.

Swarthmore alums win PJSA thesis awards two years in a row

Elowyn Corby ’13 received the Undergraduate Thesis Award from the Peace and Justice Studies Association this weekend. Sa’ed Atshan ’05 was there in Waterloo, Ontario to congratulate her.

Elwoyn Corby

Elowyn Corby presented her thesis at the annual PJSA meeting, held this year in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada.

We also learned that last year’s Graduate Thesis Award went to a Swarthmore alum, Sara Koopman, who graduated in 1993. Prof. Joy Charlton was her adviser and she was a Sociology and Anthropology major.

Dr.Sara Koopman

Dr. Sara Koopman ’93

Dr. Koopman won the award for her geography thesis, “Making Space for Peace: International Protective Accompaniment in Colombia (2007-2009)”

The website of the Balsillie School of International Affairs of the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI), the University of Waterloo (UW), and Wilfrid Laurier University (Laurier) offers the following information about Dr. Koopman:

Dr. Koopman is a feminist political geographer who does collaborative research with international solidarity movements to support their efforts to decolonize the relationships between global North and South. Her work also speaks to dynamics in humanitarianism, development, and peacebuilding more generally.

She has written about the movement to close the US Army’s School of the Americas, the World Social Forum, and her most recent research is on international protective accompaniment, a strategy used in conflict zones which puts people who are less at risk literally next to people who are under threat because of their work for peace and justice. The paradox of accompaniment is that it uses global systems that make some lives ‘count’ more, to build a world where everyone ‘counts’. In doing so it can both reinforce and wear away systems of inequality.

Her postdoctoral research builds on her arguments for understanding some grassroots activism as altergeopolitics by asking what an alterbiopolitics might be, and how the two might work together to foster peace, rather than war. To do so she is creating a public digital archive of stories from conflict zones in Colombia shared by international accompaniers (often as calls for action to pressure states), and engaging in a collaborative analysis with both accompaniers and those accompanied as to what worked well in those stories, with the intention of focusing on best practices for sharing stories online from conflict zones for purposes of solidarity and peace building.

Select Publications

  • Making Space for Peace: International Protective Accompaniment. 2013. Invited chapter in Geographies of Peace, ed. Fiona McConnell, Nick Megoran, and Philippa Williams. (I. B. Tauris), forthcoming.
  • Alter-geopolitics: Other securities are happening. 2011. Geoforum 42:3 (June), 274-284.
  • Let’s take peace to pieces. 2011. Political Geography 30:4 (May), 193-194. (cited 3 times)
  • Cutting through Topologies: Crossing Lines at the School of the Americas. 2008. Antipode. 40:5, 825-847.
  • Imperialism Within: Can the Master’s Tools Bring Down Empire? / Imperialismo Adentro: Pueden las Herramientas del Amo Derribar el Imperio? 2008. Acme: An International E-Journal for Critical Geographies. 7:2, 1-27. (cited 21 times)
  • A liberatory space? Rumors of rapes at the 5th World Social Forum, Porto Alegre, 2005. 2005. Special Issue of Journal of International Women’s Studies on Women and the World Social Forum, 8:3 (April), 149-163. (cited 7 times)
  • Bringing Torture Home: Women Shutting Down the School of the Americas. 2006. Field note in special issue on the Global and the Intimate. Women’s Studies Quarterly. 34: 1-2 (Spring/Summer) 90-93.

Congratulations to both Sara Koopman and Elowyn Corby for their continuing contributions to the field of Peace and Conflict Studies.

Professor Ted Herman (1913-2010) Swarthmore class of 1935

[This blog post appeared on the Peace and Conflict Studies main blog on Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011.]

Ted Herman, an important figure in the development of Peace Studies, recently passed away.  Prof. Herman lived not far from Swarthmore and was well known in the area.  We would like to share this tribute from another major peace studies scholar, Dr. Ian Harris, and express our appreciation and condolences to Prof. Herman’s friends, family, and colleagues.

Ted Herman (1913-2010)

Prof. Lee Smithey, Nobel laureate Mairead Corrigan Maguire, and Prof. Ted Herman at a Pendle Hill Peace Forum lecture at Swarthmore in March 2004

Ted Herman was a pioneer in the peace studies community. He was one of many Quaker scholar/midwives who helped nurture the field of peace studies in the 1960s.    He founded a peace studies program at Colgate University at the height of the Vietnam war. This program now has both a minor and a major in peace and conflict studies.

Ted Herman grew up in West Philadelphia and was a soccer star in his youth.  He did his undergraduate work at Swarthmore (graduating in 1935) and completed a Ph.D. in geography at the University of Washington.  In the interim he taught in China.  He joined the faculty at Colgate University as a professor of geography in 1955 and founded there in 1971 one of the earliest peace studies programs in the United States. He inspired many students to take seriously the study of nonviolence and to pursue careers devoted to peace. Largely because of Ted the Colgate program has a unique emphasis upon geography and trouble spots in the world–like the Middle East, Central America, Africa, or Central Asia–integrating trans-disciplinary academic approaches to war and peace with the study of particular regional conflicts.

Ted Herman was a fantastic mentor.  He mentored me and many other young professors in the nineteen eighties who were attracted to the field of peace studies in response to the growing nuclear threat. I remember well meeting with him at COPRED (Consortium on Peace Research, Education, and Development) and International Peace Research Association (IPRA) conferences. His calm determination and self confidence convinced many of us that we could leave the shelter of our traditional disciplines and walk down the path of peace. Ted Herman understood well how the study of peace could enhance the academy and made it his life’s mission to promote it.

Ted Herman devoted considerable time to bringing together enemies on multiple sides of the Balkan conflict.  In his retirement he often visited the Balkans trying to get Serbs to talk to people from Bosnia-Herzegovina.    He helped establish a peace studies program in Macedonia. I remember him coming to Milwaukee in 1995 and meeting with an important Serbian bishop in the orthodox church and leaders from the Bosnian community.

Professor Ted Herman '35

Professor Ted Herman ’35

Towards the end of his life Ted Herman became convinced that the best way to promote peace studies was through peace research. He threw his considerable talents behind the International Peace Research Association Foundation (IPRAF) a non-profit, tax-exempt organization founded in 1990 to further the purposes of the International Peace Research Association (IPRA) and enhance the processes of peace. With his support IPRAF has carried out peace research projects in the Balkans and the Middle East.  It offers women from developing countries scholarships to study peace at the graduate level and provides small peace research grants to further the field of peace research. (For more information see http://www.iprafoundation.org/) Ted Herman reveled in the rich exchanges that took place at IPRA conferences where scholars from around the world shared their insights into ways to generate peace.

Ted Hermann is held in the hearts of hundreds of peace educators and social activists, like myself, who have been inspired by his quiet determination to promote nonviolence. His memorial service will take place Jan 22, 2011 at 1 p.m. at Lancaster Friends Meeting in Lancaster, PA. I would like encourage those of you who live in the area to consider attending this service to honor an important pioneer in the field of peace and conflict studies.

Ian Harris
Professor emeritus

University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Ted Herman (1913-2010)

Ted Herman was a pioneer in the peace studies community. He was one of many
Quaker scholar/midwives who helped nurture the field of peace studies in the
1960s.	He founded a peace studies program at Colgate University at the height
of the Vietnam war. This program now has both a minor and a major in peace and
conflict studies.

Ted Herman grew up in West Philadelphia and was a soccer star in his youth.  He
did his undergraduate work at Swarthmore (graduating in 1935) and completed a
Ph.D. in geography at the University of Washington.  In the interim he taught
in China.  He joined the faculty at Colgate University as a professor of
geography in 1955 and founded there in 1971 one of the earliest peace studies
programs in the United States. He inspired many students to take seriously the
study of nonviolence and to pursue careers devoted to peace. Largely because of
Ted the Colgate program has a unique emphasis upon geography and trouble spots
in the world--like the Middle East, Central America, Africa, or Central
Asia--integrating trans-disciplinary academic approaches to war and peace with
the study of particular regional conflicts.

Ted Herman was a fantastic mentor.  He mentored me and many other young
professors in the nineteen eighties who were attracted to the field of peace
studies in response to the growing nuclear threat. I remember well meeting with
him at COPRED (Consortium on Peace Research, Education, and Development) and
International Peace Research Association (IPRA) conferences. His calm
determination and self confidence convinced many of us that we could leave the
shelter of our traditional disciplines and walk down the path of peace. Ted
Herman understood well how the study of peace could enhance the academy and
made it his life?s mission to promote it.

Ted Herman devoted considerable time to bringing together enemies on multiple
sides of the Balkan conflict.  In his retirement he often visited the Balkans
trying to get Serbs to talk to people from Bosnia-Herzegovina.	He helped
establish a peace studies program in Macedonia. I remember him coming to
Milwaukee in 1995 and meeting with an important Serbian bishop in the orthodox
church and leaders from the Bosnian community.

Towards the end of his life Ted Herman became convinced that the best way to
promote peace studies was through peace research. He threw his considerable
talents behind the International Peace Research Association Foundation (IPRAF)
a non-profit, tax-exempt organization founded in 1990 to further the purposes
of the International Peace Research Association (IPRA) and enhance the
processes of peace. With his support IPRAF has carried out peace research
projects in the Balkans and the Middle East.  It offers women from developing
countries scholarships to study peace at the graduate level and provides small
peace research grants to further the field of peace research. (For more
information see http://www.iprafoundation.org/) Ted Herman reveled in the rich
exchanges that took place at IPRA conferences where scholars from around the
world shared their insights into ways to generate peace.

Ted Hermann is held in the hearts of hundreds of peace educators and social
activists, like myself, who have been inspired by his quiet determination to
promote nonviolence. His memorial service will take place Jan 22, 2011 at 1
p.m. at Lancaster Friends Meeting in Lancaster, PA. I would like encourage
those of you who live in the area to consider attending this service to honor
an important pioneer in the field of peace and conflict studies.

Ian Harris

Nimesh Ghimire wins image competition for Peace Innovation Lab

Just spotted this on the facebook page for the Peace Innovation lab in Nepal, co-founded by Nimesh Ghimere ’15:

peace_innov_lab_logoPeace Innovation Lab’s Nimesh Ghimire was adjudged one of the winners of a regional image competition organized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) – Bangkok.

Nimesh’s work (a photograph taken while on his way to our Lab in Lamjung) will be displayed – alongside other top submissions from the Asia-Pacific region – in the “Learning to Live Together” Asia-Pacific Exhibition, to be held in Bangkok, Thailand between 17-22 September at the Bangkok Art and Culture Center.

nimesh

Elowyn Corby ’13 Awarded Undergraduate Student Thesis Award by the Peace and Justice Studies Association

We are thrilled to announce that Elowyn Corby, class of 2013, has been awarded the 2013 Undergraduate Student Thesis Award by the Peace and Justice Studies Association (PJSA) for her honors thesis titled Training for Change: Moving from Theory to Practice in Adult Education for Empowerment.”

The PJSA is a professional association for scholars, K-12 teachers, and grassroots activists in the field of peace, conflict, conflict resolution, and justice studies, and it is the North-American affiliate of the International Peace Research Association.

Elowyn CorbyElowyn was an honors student, who graduated with majors in Peace Education and Political Science and a minor in Peace and Conflict Studies.

Here is the abstract from her thesis:

This research examines the possibility of using adult activism training to facilitate the development of participatory skills.  It considers the impacts and pedagogy of Training for Change, a social action training collective in Philadelphia.  As well as surveying the major democratic theory on participation and the educational theory dealing with education for empowerment, the research includes a qualitative and quantitative analysis of Training for Change’s work.  Based on a survey of past-participants, Training for Change tends to increase participatory skills among trainees, as well as identification with social change maker identities like ‘leader’ and ‘organizer’ and the frequency and intensity with which trainees participate in social change work.  These effects were disproportionately pronounced among participants of color.  This finding counteracts the effects of more traditional skill-development institutions such as the workplace or non-political organizations, which disproportionately increase participatory skills among the most privileged members of society.  At the same time, people of color were slightly less likely to report that they felt the training was designed to be helpful for people like them, indicating that TFC has a complex relationship with questions of cultural relevance in the training space.

The award will be presented to Elowyn at the Awards Banquet during the association’s annual meeting October17-19, 2013. The meeting will be held in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, and it will be hosted by Wilfrid Laurier University Department of Global Studies, Conrad Grebel University College, and the University of Waterloo Peace and Conflict Studies Program. Elowyn will have the opportunity to present her research at the conference.

We would like to offer our warmest congratulations to Elowyn. That her work was recognized as exemplary by a committee of peace scholars and educators is a testament to her hard and careful work.

Prof. Lee Smithey and Prof. Diane Anderson, who co-advised Elowyn’s thesis and submitted it to the competition, report that they are excited that Elowyn has been honored in this way and that the award is fitting, not just with regard to the final thesis but for the way Elowyn executed the research for more than a year.

 

Tarini Kumar ’12 – Corporate Social Responsibility

Tarini Kumar '12 - Corporate Social ResponsibilityAfter graduation, I left Swarthmore for Bombay, India. Shortly after, I started work at a Delhi-based start-up called Sankhya Partners.

The company is an investment, consulting and strategic advisory platform. They offer early-stage social enterprises business and financial advice, and, in some cases, proprietary growth capital. They also provide established firms a sustainable blueprint for their Corporate Social Responsibility programs. Sankhya Partners works with investors, entrepreneurs, companies, educational institutions, government and international organizations and individuals to enable change.

As an Associate and a Sankhya Fellow, I worked with clients on field research, and on putting together databases to expand the company’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) practice. My work was centered around the unorganized labour sector. I worked on identifying and analyzing legislation that would help a social enterprise access funding for programs to up-skill workers. The training programs they run have already increased daily wages for labourers, and they hope to extend their programs for increasing financial inclusion and employability across India.

Recently, I left Sankhya Partners and have started working at Citibank. I’m assigned to the Corporate Affairs team, where I am focused on Citi’s Corporate Citizenship programs – primarily their work with women in rural communities who would not normally have the facility to save money. My responsibilities include communicating with the NGOs and entrepreneurs that Citi partners with to ensure that programs are running well. In addition, I am responsible for putting together their annual Corporate Citizenship Report for India.

In addition to working at Citibank, I am involved with an NGO called Know Your Vote. It’s a non-profit, non-partisan organization focused on raising civic awareness. So far, I’ve been working on our social media and outreach. Currently, we are working on setting up chapters in schools across Bombay, and preparing voter registration drives and other activities in preparation for the 2014 election.

Olivia Ensign ’12 and the Quaker United Nations Office

by Olivia Ensign ’12

 

Olivia Ensign '12 and the Quaker United Nations OfficeAs a senior I decided to take on the challenge of a double credit thesis to fulfill the requirements of my Peace and Conflict Studies honors minor. I chose to write my thesis on the evolution and intersection of the fields of Security Studies and Peace and Conflict Studies. This topic was the culmination of four years of seminars and individual inquiry. Completing this work, eventually titled “Separated at Birth: An Analysis of the Origins and Evolution of Peace and Conflict Studies and Security Studies,” was simultaneously the most draining and rewarding experience of my time at Swarthmore.  My continued interest in the theories and applications of Peace and Conflict Studies led me to apply for my current position as a Program Assistant with the Quaker United Nations Office. This yearlong fellowship has so far been an amazing experience.

 

The Quaker United Nations Office represents the interests of Quakers worldwide at the United Nations. Much of QUNO’s work consists of facilitating informal, off the record dialogue among relevant stakeholders on the role of the UN in peacebuilding and prevention efforts. In addition to helping plan and execute these meetings, my role as a Program Assistant consists of monitoring developments in the work of the Peacebuilding Commission in Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo. I also track developments in UN action in Iran and Iraq. My duties include attending relevant meetings at the U.N. as well as monitoring academic journals and news sources in order to gather information on the issues QUNO engages around. Another area of work I am engaged on is the Palestinian bid for an upgraded status at the UN. This work includes updating the Palestine Resource, an online database intended to be a source of information for activists engaged around the issue of Palestinian statehood, and attending meetings of the Israel-Palestine NGO working group. Finally, I work on QUNO’s engagement around the Post 2015 Development Agenda, the framework that will replace the MDGs upon their expiration.

 

My work with QUNO has reaffirmed my interest in the role of international organizations and international law. As a result I decided to apply for law school with the aim of completing a degree in international human rights law.

 

Adriana Popa ’12 – Blog Post

Adriana Popa '12 - Blog PostAdriana Popa ’12, honors Political Science major and Peace and Conflict studies minor from Pitesti, Romania, is heading to India after graduation, to work under the Davis Projects For Peace Award. The $10,000 Davis grant will support the efforts she and fellow Swattie Riana Shah ’14, from Ahmedabad, India, Sociology/Anthropology and Educational Studies major and co-founder (along with Jwalin Patel) of Independent Thought and Social Action – ITSA, will center around peace education and community building. The project, You(th) for Peace, will promote cross-cultural dialogue and help combat stereotypes, fear, and intolerance, allowing students and their families to envision a common future of peace and cooperation, and will encompass 10 weeks of educational and social action components in India, as well as an international component (through the international team that will join Adriana and Riana in India, the culminating conference, the series of Youtube videos and the curriculum translated into multiple languages that will be launched at the conclusion of activities in India). Adriana and Riana hope the spirit and model of You(th) for Peace will be replicated in various parts of the world. Adriana will draw on her extensive experience in promoting education, youth involvement and peace through her past work with organizations such as the Federation of Young European Greens, Genocide Intervention Network, Peace Child International, and Africa Change International, while Riana will add You(th) for Peace to her already rich experience in advancing independent thinking, social activism, and entrepreneurship to counter the passivity of the Indian education system. Adriana and Riana both have a great deal to thank Swarthmore for in regards to their interest and involvement with education and peace work. Adriana’s Peace and Conflict Studies experience has been one of the most formative ones in her life: “For years I had associated war with a pointed gun and peace with its absence. Through my education, I came to understand that war begins far away from the ammunition warehouses, the same place where peace is born: in people’s hearts and minds. Peace begins with understanding, and education is the best tool for that.” Riana benefited from several generous Swarthmore grants, including the Lang Opportunity Scholar Grant from the Lang Center for Civic and Social Responsibility, which have contributed to her perspective on a potential avenue of involvement: “The curriculum in many Indian schools is test-driven and rote-memorization based, creating an environment which doesn’t offer students a chance to intensely participate in critical thinking, which is something that Swarthmore prizes and encourages.”Adriana Popa '12 - Blog Post