Tue, May 07, 2013
Democracy is Us website launched
As a creative project developed in response to the Looking at Democracy Challenge, I recently launched a new website at http://democracyis.us/active. If you like the project, I would appreciate your vote of encouragement. Voting for the Popular Choice Award runs from May 6-16, 2013.
The project seeks to promote conflict resolution in education as a core foundation for democratic living. I had some fun with the design, developing a “parallax” side scrolling scene where a biker rides along the “pathway to democracy” passing various reminders of good practice. You can even swap bikes if you prefer a different ride than the initial high wheel bike. Also included is a timeline of examples of people-powered nonviolent actions for change and a calendar that lists information on world holidays, peacemaker birthdays and more. At the center of the site, however, are the videos showing a selection of good examples of conflict resolution education (broadly defined) being enacted in schools and communities. Also provided are some core resources should the viewer decide to try and implement some of these ideas where they are.
Here’s the entry description:
Democracy works best with an educated citizenry who have developed skills of conflict resolution, public engagement, and civility as part of their schooling experience. This proposal harkens back to the philosophy of education espoused by pragmatist John Dewey in his 1916 book Democracy in Education, while looking forward at the positive strides being made in conflict resolution skills development in education. Democracy can get us where we need to go, but it is human-powered. Making it work requires a proper education and the ability to work with others often unlike ourselves. However, by getting involved and engaging with others we can all look forward to an interesting and productive journey. Democracy is us! Ride on!
Also, please check out the prezi, embedded below, that I developed to explain the project’s focus.
I was hoping to include a bike riding game on the site, wherein the biker has to navigate some tricky terrain and avoid various obstacles to democratic practice, but I ran out of time, so I guess it will have to wait till after the contest wraps up in June when I’ll be free to make additional changes to the site. In any case, I do hope you like it and share the site with others. Ride on!
Thu, May 02, 2013
Careers in Peacebuilding and Conflict Resolution Webinar archive
In April of 2013 the University of Massachusetts Lowell and the U.S. Institute for Peace hosted a webinar with Professor George Lopez, Chair in Peace Studies at the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame. The session focused on Careers in the Peacebuilding and Conflict Resolution Field. The webinar is archived and available for viewing online. Professor Lopez has been active in the field of peace studies for a very long time, serving for instance as Chair of the Peace and Global Studies Program at Earlham College in the late 1970s, so this was a great opportunity. He also happens to be an alumni, like myself, of the Maxwell School at Syracuse University, from whence great things often come.
Mon, Mar 18, 2013
Connection Point Cross-Cultural Dialogues for Women
Peace by Peace is hosting a new Connection Point initiative that will be using facilitated video conversations using Google Hangouts to connect Arab and Muslim women with women from Western countries in a vibrant online community.
Women interested in serving as online facilitators should apply by March 22, 2013. Accepted applicants will receive training prior to the commencement of the online dialogues.
This program is based on a curriculum developed by Peace X Peace, with the intention of serving a growing community of global citizens who are interested in reaching a better understanding of conflict and ways to engage in peacebuilding, particularly when it comes to the relationship between Western women and Arab and Muslim women.
Resources from the University of Minnesota Student Conflict Resolution Center
The University of Minnesota Student Conflict Resolution Center has been doing a good job developing materials to help their constituents understand and deal with campus conflicts.
A few notable examples include their survey (2007 and then again in 2011) of graduate and professional students (more than 3300 respondents) regarding experiences with academic incivility, a set of DIY handouts promoting constructive problem management, and a series of videos exploring roommate conflicts, grading disputes and charges of academic misconduct.
The 2011 survey of graduate students showed improvement when compared with the 2007 results in terms of the percentage of students experiencing harassment, so progress is being made. Here’s a clip from the most recent survey summary:
Seventeen percent, down from 19% in 2007, reported being harassed by such behavior as hostile communication and threats to academic and employment status. Students reported being harassed most often by faculty who were not their advisers. Twenty percent reported the harassment, those who did not report said they feared retaliation or a negative impact on their career; half said that they didnt believe anyone would help them. Thirty percent of those who did report being harassed felt that they had been retaliated against as a result of reporting the harassment.
Seventy-nine percent, down from 83% in 2007, reported that the harassment somewhat or completely interfered with their ability to work or study. Thirty-six percent, down from 44% in 2007, of those who experienced harassment reported they considered leaving the U as a result. Eighteen percent, down from 29% in 2007, of students who observed another student being harassed considered leaving the U as a result of the harassment.
The University has made a public commitment to improving academic civility on campus for graduate students.
Thu, Jan 10, 2013
Turning the Tide Curriculum on Nonviolence
The Turning the Tide Curriculum: A Core Collection Of Material On Nonviolence was developed by a group of British Quakers based on years of experience teaching about nonviolence. Turning the Tide (TTT) is a program of the Quaker Peace and Social Witness (QPSW). QPSW works with and on behalf of the Religious Society of Friends in Britain to translate Quaker faith into action. They work with Quakers and nonviolent activist groups to advance the understanding of active nonviolence and its use for positive social change.
The curriculum material is divided into sections.
- Theology, Philosophy and Core Principles of Nonviolence
- History of Nonviolent Campaigns and Movements
- Contemporary Nonviolent Campaigns
- Theory and Strategy: How, why and when nonviolence works
- Doing it! Developing and applying our technology of peace
You can get the entire curriculum in one file, or just grab the section you are interested in from the curriculum resources page. If you are looking for training activity handouts, go to the Training Manual Page and use the menus on the left-hand side of the page to find lots of activities.
Tue, Dec 04, 2012
When the Water Ends - Africa’s Climate Conflicts
When The Water Ends: Africa’s Climate Conflicts is a 16-minute video that documents conflicts driven by climate change in Eastern Africa. The video focuses on four groups of pastoralists — the Turkana of Kenya and the Dassanech, Nyangatom, and Mursi of Ethiopia — who are among the more than two dozen tribes whose lives and culture depend on the waters of the Omo River and the body of water into which it flows, Lake Turkana. To report this video, Evan Abramson, a 32-year-old photographer and videographer, spent two months in the region, living among the herding communities. He returned with a tale that many climate scientists say will be increasingly common in the 21st century and beyond — how worsening drought in parts of Africa, the Middle East, and elsewhere will pit group against group, nation against nation. As one UN official told Abramson, the clashes between Kenyan and Ethiopian pastoralists represent “some of the world’s first climate-change conflicts.”
Thu, Nov 22, 2012
Nice new Video from ODR Provider MODRIA
MODRIA, the Online Dispute Resolution service provider founded by my friend and colleague Colin Rule (former director of online dispute resolution for eBay and PayPal) was featured on TechCrunch this week. As part of the story, they have released a nice new promo video, viewable below. I like their use of the term “Fairness Engine” for the web. Sounds like something we really need.
Sun, Nov 18, 2012
Conflict Resolution Job at MIT - a model job description?
I recently received a job alert from the Chronicle of Higher Education (you can set up key word searches) announcing an opening for the Assistant Director of Conflict Resolution at MIT (the Massachusetts Institute of Technology). While this is only one university, and a unique one at that, I was pleased and impressed by the description of the duties for this position (see a clip below). It suggests to me, when coupled with the discussions we had this past year at the Association for Conflict Resolution on the state of dispute resolution in higher education, that the campus conflict resolution “ecology” is continuing to get more sophisticated and more educational in the approaches taken to working with and learning from conflict in higher education. The prevailing counter trend, a focus on risk management and conflict containment, pales in comparison in my mind. Hopefully, the Conflict Resolution field is also producing capable conflict-competent students who are prepared to fill these kinds of positions when they become available.
Here’s a clip from the longer job description:
Reporting to the Director of the Office of Student Citizenship (OSC), the Assistant Director serves the mission of the OSC in assisting students to become active and reflective members of the MIT community and the world through education, outreach and direct service to undergraduate and graduate students on all matters pertaining to conflict management and resolution. With a solid grasp of the developmental needs of emerging adults, the Assistant Director connects and engages with the diverse MIT student population to help them develop solid conflict management skills. To that end, the Assistant Director will develop and conduct periodic assessments of the communitys needs for and views on a spectrum of conflict resolution methods, with an emphasis on conflict coaching and including mediation and restorative practices; develop conflict management and skill-building programs in response to these assessments; oversee the conflict resolution case management; develop and implement training programs; provide leadership in conflict resolution; and serve as primary resource concerning conflict resolution for students and student groups at the Institute.
Wed, Nov 14, 2012
The field of public engagement practice has developed into a rich domain of knowledge and techniques that draw on the “wisdom of crowds” and seek to make shared decisions in effective and just ways. The new website entitled Participation Compass (based in the U.K.) provides a good window into the available processes and resource guides currently available. It extends earlier work done at a site called PeopleandParticipation.net which was created with funding from the UK Department for Justice, the UK Department for Communities & Local Government and the UK Sustainable Development Commission.
The key feature of the site is a search tool that helps you narrow down your tool choices based on the goals you have for your public engagement initiative. Here’s the categories of interest:
Build skills and capacity of participants
Gather individual pre-existing opinions
Gather informed and considered opinions (deliberation)
Generate new ideas (innovation)
Create a shared vision amongst participants
Reach consensus and overcome conflict
Make a direct decision
Thu, Nov 08, 2012
From Conflict to Cooperation - Cartoon Booklets on Resolving Conflicts from Co-operatives UK
From Conflict to Cooperation is a lovely series of five cartoon-style booklets from Cooperatives UK which aim to help groups not only deal with conflict when it arises but also to avoid unnecessary conflict. The nicely illustrated guides are about 20 pages each. They can be read online using a full-screen viewer or downloaded as pdfs. The author Kate Whittle has been working with co-operatives both in the UK and overseas for over 20 years. She has worked as a researcher, trainer, mentor and development worker for a wide range of co-operatives and social enterprises. Angela Martin, the illustrator is a well known cartoonist with vast experience of illustrating community guides and handbooks. The topics and links to the individual guides are provided below.
Booklet 1: Conflict - where it comes from and how to deal with it
Booklet 2: Communication Skills
Booklet 3: Meetings and Decision Making
Booklet 4: Organisational Growth and Development
Booklet 5: Role and responsibilities of the committee
Sat, Nov 03, 2012
Soliya Connect Program - Group Video Chats Promote Cross-cultural Understanding
I’ve been following the Soliya program for a while now, quite impressed with their creative use of web-enabled video to build connections across cultures. This new video follows a Soliya Connect class through their 10-week semester. As described on the Soliya project website:
Since 2003, the Connect Program has linked students from over 100 universities in 27 countries in the Middle East, North Africa, South Asia, Europe and North America. Through Soliya’s online videoconferencing application, the program allows students to connect to a global community of peers, engage in facilitated, sustained and substantive dialogue, and build respectful relationships across national, cultural, religious and ideological boundaries.
Cyberweek Blogtalk Radio Show with Colin Rule, Bill Warters and Pattie Porter
Cyberweek 2012 was quite engaging this year, with lots of conversations and platform demonstrations exploring Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) theory and practice. As part of the festivities, on October 30th, Colin Rule and I joined Pattie Porter on the Texas Conflict Coach live call-in radio show. The archive of that fun conversation on Technology For Better, Not For Worse: Online Dispute Resolution In Everyday Life is now available for online listening or download.
Thu, Oct 11, 2012
eMediation Student Competition set for Cyberweek 2012
An eMediation competition will be held during Cyberweek 2012, coordinated by Cornell University’s Scheinman Institute on Conflict Resolution, in conjunction with Modria Mediation Room. This opportunity will allow students to practice using the online dispute resolution platform Modria as they participate in simulated mediations. Students will need to register for this event (separately from Cyberweek) at this web address.
Here’s a pdf flyer with more details: eMediation Competition Flyer
Wed, Oct 10, 2012
Video - Restorative Justice at Michigan State
Restorative Practices are spreading through higher education in many interesting ways these days. This video explains how Restorative Justice is being applied at Michigan State University. As the video description explains:
“In the fall of 2010, the Restorative Justice committee worked hard to implement RJ throughout Residence Life, Student Life, and introduce it to incoming students on campus as a positive conflict resolution method. Though RJ has been around longer than just a semester, this year marks a new commitment to the power of RJ through circles and conferences. All of MSU’s senior Residence Life staff and a large portion of the undergraduate staff have been trained in either RJ Circles or RJ Conferences. Furthermore, the Department of Student Life has been able to offer RJ as a solution to conflicts when student enter into the adjudication process on campus. We hope to have many opportunities to demonstrate our work and, combined with ongoing assessment, should see the positive changes of restorative justice in conflict resolution.”
More information on the Michigan State Initiative is available here.
Mon, Oct 08, 2012
The Possibility of Popular Justice book viewable online via HathiTrust
I was browsing the HathiTrust Mobile Digital Library this evening for the first time. These are books that were scanned and digitized by the Google Books project. I was excited to see that the excellent edited volume on community mediation and the community boards model entitled The Possibility of Popular Justice: A Case Study of Community Mediation in the United States is available in full view mode. Definitely worth reviewing if you are a fan of community mediation and the history of alternative dispute resolution more generally.