Watch: Theresa Williamson ’97 Offers a Glimpse into Rio’s Favelas

From Swarthmore College News and Information
August 17, 2016

Today: Santa Marta: Matt Lauer tours of one of Rio de Janeiro’s oldest favelas

The 2016 summer Olympics has turned the world’s attention to life in Rio de Janeiro. The city is surrounded by over 1,000 favela communities, which have come to be synonymous with poverty and crime. However, Theresa Williamson ’97 says that while education, health, and sanitation remain to be the top three demands of the people in favelas, the favelas provide a vibrant community for those who live there.

Williamson founded and serves as executive director for Catalytic Communities, a nonprofit organization that is working to destigmatize Rio de Janeiro’s favela communities and integrate them into the wider society. Since its founding in 2000, Catalytic Communities has provided communications, networking, and training support to leaders in the favela communities.

Williamson graduated from Swarthmore with a special major in biological anthropology and a minor in peace and conflict studies. She received her Ph.D. in city and regional planning from the University of Pennsylvania.

Danny Hirschel Burns ’14 on his special major in Peace and Conflict Studies

This piece by Anna Gonzales appeared in The Phoenix on November 12, 2015
Danny Hirschel Burns was the 2014 recipient of the Peace and Justice Studies Association Undergraduate Thesis Award for the thesis he talks about in this article.

Special majors forge own innovative academic paths

While most students at the college choose to major in one or more of its nearly fifty academic departments, some forge their own path. Pursuing their intellectual passions and often generating innovative interdisciplinary work, a handful of students graduate each year with special majors in subjects ranging across the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences.

Some students with special majors can follow a relatively well-established existing curriculum, one created by previous special majors or with programs at Bryn Mawr, Haverford, or the University of Pennsylvania. Others, such as Claudia Lo ’16, who is a special honors major in gender and digital culture, design entirely new programs, working closely with faculty mentors.

Lo’s special major seems to have grown naturally out of her life experience and her penchant for academic analysis. As a child, Lo spent much more time playing video games than watching movies or television, or listening to music.

“That’s what I did, and so for me it was unthinkable not to study them,” Lo said. Growing up queer and Asian, Lo added, increased her desire to study video games — in which these representations are rarely included — and figure out her relationship to these works.

Lo first got the chance to take an academic approach to her fascination with video games during a film and media studies department seminar entitled Women in Pop Culture during her freshman year. The next year, Lo took another class in the department, the History and Theory of Video Games, and realized she could actually pursue video game studies as a potential major.

Video game studies, Lo explained, do not really exist at the undergraduate level in the area in which Lo is interested — these tend to cover game design rather than the theory-based critical approaches Lo takes. This was one of the challenges of designing Lo’s special honors major, she said, since besides the History and Theory of Video Games class, there were barely any courses which specifically related to what Lo wanted to study.

To meet the requirements for designing a special honors major, Lo combined a wide variety of different courses in film and media studies, sociology and anthropology, and gender and sexuality studies. She also conducted an independent study and is in the process of writing a double-credit thesis, looking at the relationships between video game players and the controllers they use and thinking about digital bodies, drawing on feminist theories of embodiment. Lo is also writing her thesis using a text adventure game engine called Twine.

Though the process has been complicated, Lo’s special major has allowed her to guide her work in her classes towards exactly the topics in which she is most interested. She greatly appreciates this flexibility and freedom.

“A large part of my major has been, ‘How far can I get away with this?’ It turns out, pretty far,” Lo said.

Lo has found the different departments her major fits under extremely supportive of her plan of study and her interests. All of her professors have been very excited, she said, by the prospect of reaching out to contacts who might have knowledge about the different areas Lo has studied in order to find Honors examiners.

Now, Lo is searching for and applying to graduate school programs relevant to her area of study. Part of this has been a hunt for the departments under which critical theory approaches to video game studies are housed — Lo says that these can range from “New Media” departments to “Screens, Arts, and Culture” to English literature and sociology departments.

“It’s incredibly interdisciplinary, on account of no one knowing what they’re doing. You can get away with anything, and that’s part of what makes it really exciting,” Lo explained.

Students can also create special majors in established programs, such as Black Studies, for which many courses are specifically cross-listed. Kara Bledsoe ’16 spent several semesters as a chemistry major before declaring a special major in Black Studies.

“I took a Black Studies course just on a whim, because I thought, I’ve never taken a class like this before,” Bledsoe said. She took both an introductory and a history class listed as Black Studies courses.

“I just really enjoyed the material and it felt like it was relevant to my life,” Bledsoe said. “I really felt like it informed my life experience and it gave me the framework I needed to actually study what I was interested in.”

Bledsoe has greatly enjoyed the professors, classmates, and material she has encountered in the course of pursuing her special major, in which she has combined courses from history, sociology, and English. A highlight included her independent study with Professor of History Tim Burke, in which Bledsoe and Burke researched and discussed Black American scientists throughout history.

“We talked about the implications of race for scientific discovery,” Bledsoe said. “Not just biological race and all of that nonsense, but asking, how has race shaped who does science? Who is science done for? Who has access to what science says and who defines it? That was really illuminating and wonderful.”

Bledsoe is currently working on her thesis, which has taken a nontraditional form. As Bledsoe’s interests in Black Studies lie at the intersection of science and historical and public representation (such as museums, libraries, monuments, archives, etc.) she is working to create documentary shorts and curating an exhibition focused on the historical experience of Black Americans working in science.

“I’ve been very, very satisfied just as a baseline but also pleasantly shocked by the support I’ve gotten,” Bledsoe said of her proposal to create a multimedia exhibition rather than writing a paper for her thesis. “Everyone has been like, ‘Great, this is a great idea,’ and then they challenge me to do it well. The relationships I’ve formed with the professors that have been mentoring me have been really positive, and that’s been nice.”

The challenge for Bledsoe has not been to find Black Studies courses but to find those that relate specifically to her interests. While some education courses and sociology/anthropology courses, for instance, address some aspects of the intersection of race, representation, and science, Bledsoe has not found the exact perspective she is looking for in these. Thus, she has had to broaden and make more abstract her interests, taking classes which she must work to make applicable to her major.

“It has been difficult to find classes, but the classes that I’ve chosen I think have been really compelling and interesting, even if they aren’t directly related to Black Americans in science,” Bledsoe said.

A large part of Bledsoe’s decision to declare a special major came from her desire to develop the specialized skills and knowledge she needs in order to achieve her eventual goals of curating a museum, where she hopes to engage with the creation of official memory and access the ways in which people interact with historical information.

In the immediate future, Bledsoe hopes to work at the new Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture.

“They’re really shaping what history is going to be like in that museum,” she explained.

Overall, Bledsoe has no regrets about declaring Black Studies as her major. She believes that her experience of creating her own academic program has taught her advocate for herself and thinking through exactly what she wants to study.

“I’ve had to really concentrate on what it is that I wanted, and I’ve had to articulate that, and I think that’s going to be really useful going forward,” Bledsoe said. “You have to have a plan — you can’t just be like, ‘I want a special major,’ and then fuck around.”

As a special major, Bledsoe feels she has learned to continually push for the chance to focus on her academic interests, rather than allowing professors to steer her in a different direction.

“You have to be willing to say, in the face of professors, ‘These are great ideas, and I respect what you’re saying, but this is what I want to do,’” Bledsoe said.

As Bledsoe explained, much of the advantage of declaring a special major can come from the chance to do innovative interdisciplinary work and to focus more narrowly on exactly the courses and subjects one is interested in rather than fulfilling a more general established set of major requirements.

Daniel_Hirschel-Burns

Danny Hirschel-Burns ’14, for instance, found that the biggest benefit of designing his own major in political conflict was the opportunity to write an interdisciplinary thesis on nonviolent strategies civilians could use to survive mass atrocities.

Hirschel-Burns knew going into Swarthmore that he was interested in international politics and mass violence.

“A big part of it is that my grandfather was a Holocaust survivor, so I’ve been hearing stories about those things as long as I can remember,” Hirschel-Burns said.

At the college, Hirschel-Burns took a class on nonviolent resistance which sparked his interest in social movements, and after taking classes with Visiting Assistant Professor of Political Science Shervin Malakzadeh, he became intrigued by broader forms of contentious politics. Additionally, Hirschel-Burns’ desire to think more deeply about violence developed through his membership in Students Taking Action Now: Darfur, a student-led movement to end mass atrocities, he said.

Hirschel-Burns’ decision to design a major in political conflict, which was housed in the Peace and Conflict Studies department and also incorporated classes from the Political Science and History departments, was motivated by his desire to take the exact set of classes he was interested in and ultimately apply them to his thesis.

“I knew my interests didn’t lie squarely in history,” Hirschel-Burns said.

Hirschel-Burns added that there were many classes he could have included in his major that he chose not to in the end because of the college’s 12-course limit on credits towards a major.

The interdisciplinary focus of his special major gave Hirschel-Burns the flexibility to write the thesis he had been thinking about since his sophomore year, he said.

“I think it would have been challenging to write that thesis as a history major, because of the lack of archival sources,” Hirschel-Burns said. “Even political science probably would have wanted a smaller scope and more rigid structure.”

The content of Hirschel-Burns’ thesis has guided his post-graduation experience as well. He spent one year working at a human rights foundation, conducting research on theories of atrocity prevention, which he said he would not have done without the familiarity with extant literature that came out of his thesis work. Now, Hirschel-Burns is applying to PhD programs in political science to study violence, governance, and state-building.

“Basically, my thesis was a scholarly jumping-off point to what I imagine I’ll be doing for the rest of my life,” Hirschel-Burns said.

As Lo, Bledsoe, and Hirschel-Burns all stated, special majors can provide students with a more tightly focused and more applicable knowledge for future academic and professional work. Eliana Cohen ’17, a special major in organizational behavior, hopes to pursue a career in business in the future, yet has been able to follow her more liberal arts-focused interests in psychology and sociology thanks to her special major .

Cohen has always wanted to understand how people are motivated, and how these individual motivations affect one’s ability to work together to create organizations, infrastructures, and societies, she said.

“When I came to college, I kept thinking about the question of motivation and its implications and soon found that it was not only central to what I was learning in my psych courses — I originally intended to become a psych major — but also to what I was learning in virtually all of my other courses and to my social interaction as well,” Cohen explained.

Cohen noted that Andrew Ward, professor of psychology at the college, was instrumental in her decision to pursue her special major. During her freshman spring, Cohen took Ward’s class in social psychology, which furthered her interest in organizational behavior.

“I became absolutely fascinated with studying how people work in groups since essentially everything we do as humans involves some sort of collaborative effort,” Cohen said. She also linked her interest in organizational behavior to the small size and emphasis on collaborative learning that are both characteristic of the college, contexts which she feels led her to see the role of individual motivations in shaping people’s ability and desire to work together.

Following her desire to gear her education towards what appeared to be a broad field, Cohen decided to declare a special major which would be housed in the psychology department but would incorporate courses from the economics and sociology departments as well.

Cohen felt that the college provided her with a great deal of resources in order to design her own educational path. The process involved meeting with a special major advisor; researching organizational behavior majors at other colleges and universities; choosing 12 courses that would meet the major requirement, including a course in organizational psychology not offered at Swarthmore but available at University College London, where Cohen is currently abroad; reaching out to a student who had majored in behavioral economics a few years previously and could give her advice on her proposed curriculum; and meeting with the chairs of the psychology, economics, and sociology departments along with the registrar, before her major could be approved.

At present, Cohen is deep in thought about her senior comprehensive exercise, a research project in which she hopes to examine the effect of individual personalities of group members on the efficacy of on-campus organizations and to see if her findings are supported by existing literature.

Despite enthusiastic professors and what seems like a solid amount of institutional support for students who wish to design special majors, there can be difficulties as well. Lo, for example, has occasionally felt isolated as a special major doing her thesis research. Unlike students working on their theses as groups within departments, who might be writing about vastly different subjects but all overlap in some way thanks to sharing a major, Lo relies solely on half hour meetings twice a month with her advisor for feedback on her ideas.

“I don’t have a lot of contact with other people doing similar things,” she said.

For all of this, though, Lo feels that the college possesses unique attributes, such as its size, the liberal arts environment, and the availability of close relationships with motivated professors, all of which enable students whose interests do not fit within established programs of study to pursue their ideal special majors. At another school, Lo added, she might have used her interest in video games to generate paper topics rather than designed an entire major around it.

“This isn’t something every institution has,” Lo said.

ShaKea Alston ’17 Receives Coveted Arts Internship

Congratulations to ShaKea Alston ’17, a special major in Peace and Conflict Studies and Dance for winning a coveted arts internship during which she will be working at the documentary company POV, which many of you may associate with PBS public television.

This story was initially posted by the News and Information Office.
By Ryan Dougherty
June 5th, 2015

Shakea Alston '17In February, ShaKea Alston ’17 had a video interview for a coveted internship with theDiversity in Arts Leadership program in New York City. She thought it went well but stayed realistic about her chances to be one of the 12 students chosen from the 100 interviewed.

But two months later, while studying in McCabe Library, she got the call.

“I was pretty excited and a little surprised,” says Alston, a special major in peace and conflict studies and dance from Bronx, N.Y. “After applying for something so competitive, it’s validating to hear they felt strongly enough about my qualifications and potential to accept me.

“Needless to say,” she adds, “it was an awesome study break!”

The Arts & Business Council of New York, a non-profit division of Americans for the Arts, placed Alston and 11 other students at host arts organizations throughout New York City. The program was created to promote diversity in the field of arts management and stimulate creative partnerships between the arts and business communities in New York.

This week, Alston began interning with American Documentary | POV, a series that offers alternative viewpoints to mainstream media. She works in the development department, researching funding prospects and helping to coordinate the launch of the new season of POV, among other tasks.

“I’ll also be going on site visits to see where the other members of the cohort are interning and what they’re working on,” she says, “and participating in networking and cultural/arts events around NYC.”

Arts organizations serving as intern hosts represent an array of disciplines such as music, dance, theater, visual arts, museums, and arts services. The program matches students with business mentors who guide their personal and professional growth throughout the summer, and it connects students to an alumni network.

Looking back on her first two years at Swarthmore, Alston cites “The Arts as Social Change” course taught by Sharon Friedler, director of the College’s Dance Program, as pivotal. It offered her the chance to intern with Dance/USA Philadelphia and gave her experience with proposing and writing a grant with classmates, which helped her in her internship with the Innocence Project last summer.

“On a more theoretical level,” she says, “the course definitely changed how I thought about and engaged with art on a personal level, and allowed me to share these new ideas with my classmates.

“The course also helped me think about and form my special major, by thinking about the intersection between dance, identity, community engagement, peace, and a whole bunch of other things I haven’t quite articulated yet.”

While Alston will do everything possible to be in the moment this summer, learning all that she can from her mentor, peers, and program alumni, she’ll also have an eye to the future.

“I hope to see how my interest in the arts can continue even after I stop performing or practicing dance per se,” she says. “I’m not entirely sure what I’ll do after college, though I will say if someone in the future told me I was working in the development office of a major dance company, I’d be pretty happy and unsurprised to hear it.”

 

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:

————————————————–

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

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.