Reflections on the 2018 IACM Conference, from Bhushan Kumar, AC4 Fellow

The 2018 IACM Conference struck a chord with me right from the opening session! The range of topics discussed, professors and students that I met, and the sheer enormity of the conflict management field was overwhelming – to say the least!

IACM was the first international conference that I had attended, and naturally, I was nervous! Also, it was my first time in the US and that added to my apprehensions. But I was lucky to receive the financial support from AC4 and Earth Institute, which helped me make this long journey from India!

On the opening day, I got an opportunity to meet IACM members from across the world (UK, Poland, China, etc.), which helped me feel at ease. Soon after, it was time for my poster presentation!

As I mentioned, it was my first conference abroad and I was presenting on the first day, hence I was apprehensive about my presentation, wondering what kind of questions I would receive. However, I met some lovely members who not only willingly listened to my findings, but also offered me congratulatory pats (and sometimes, useful tips). Few of the members were working in related fields of conflicts at workplace and introduced me to interesting research happening in this space. These interactions were truly encouraging.

Over the next three days, I was exposed to some critical and cutting-edge research happening in several esteemed institutions. I met quite a few fascinating scholars and students in the conflict management space, some of whom continue to interact with me even today. I seem to have made some great mentors and friends for life!  IACM also had a very informal touch to it; in the sense, participants were very warm and approachable, and it never felt that most of us were seeing each other for the first time. To top it all, IACM also organised a historical guided walk for the participants and a dance night on the penultimate day. (I had never known conferences to be so lively!).

As a budding student and practitioner of this field, I feel truly humbled and thankful to AC4 for giving me this opportunity to experience one of the best conferences that I have been part of. Two things definitely stood out for me: strong passion of the IACM members to make this world a better place and quality of knowledge that is shared at the conference.

I fervently hope to see my IACM friends again at Dublin in 2019!

Author: Bhushan Kumar, a 2018 AC4-IACM Fellow is a Young India Fellow at Ashoka University and who will begin the Masters of Behavioral and Design Sciences at University of Pennsylvania this fall, gave a poster presentation on his research titled “Zero Hour – An Indian Twist to Culinary Diplomacy.” This research deals with using culinary diplomacy as a tool to create cross-cultural understanding, foster cooperation and mitigate conflicts. 
Photos provided by author.

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