Interview with 2016 IACM Fellow, Bilan Stribling

Bilan Stribling, one of the 2016 AC4 Peace Fellows at the annual International Association on Conflict Management (IACM), works on risk mitigation, international relations and global partnership development. She completed her Masters in Negotiation and Conflict Resolution at Columbia’s School of Professional Studies. As a Fellow at IACM, she presented on factors that contribute to a negotiator’s ability to mitigate risks when making the first offer in a negotiation, and today continues to focus on risk mitigation and in the context of social disarticulation and economic reconstruction in the global community. 


Origins of interest in AC4

Centers like AC4 enriched my academic experience at Columbia. Early in my career, I strived to make an impact in the communities I serve through social development and microfinance initiatives. Joining forces with AC4 allowed me to expand the scope of my research while collaborating with scholars and thought leaders in the field of conflict mitigation. I am excited to see the diversity of knowledge, skills, and ideas that flow through AC4 every semester.  The center’s eagerness to support integrative research, like my own, allows young scholars to develop models that lead to solutions for seemingly intractable issues.    


Risk mitigation in Africa, focused on the Democratic Republic of Congo

When given an opportunity, women are often the primary advocates and drivers of social change. Women and girls suffer disproportionately from high rates of violence and extreme poverty during times of conflict and economic volatility. With this in mind, I am a firm believer in developing platforms to promote women’s voices so they can achieve vertical mobility in every aspect of their lives. I’m currently working to increase engagement with public and private partnerships for the Congo Women’s Initiative. This initiative is a subsidiary under the Stand With Congo movement to accelerate social and economic progress for women.


IACM Highlights / Takeaways

Over the past two years, I have participated in the International Association for Conflict Management conference in New York City and Berlin, Germany. The conference positioned me to collaborate and connect with other scholars and thought leaders in the field of negotiation and conflict resolution. In Berlin, I remember presenting one of my research models on power dynamics and capacity building. Moments after my presentation, I glanced over and saw one of the leading scholars who inspired me. This reminded me that IACM is about strengthening your research, getting effective feedback, growing your network, and collaborating with your peers. I can honestly say that IACM has transformed my academic and professional experience.


Words of Advice

I remember starting my academic journey wanting to make a tremendous impact in the communities I serve. However, I was unsure how to effectively measure the impact that my service initiatives had on the global community. Then I quickly realized that my purpose is to maintain an attitude of selflessness and promote a climate of service to inspire others to do the same. My advice to students is to remember that others are taking note of your actions, so strive to be innovative, persistent, and thoughtful in every initiative and project you pursue.

Photo: Bilan Stribling at 2017 IACM Conference; taken by Meredith Smith.

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