Sustaining Peace 2015

This event was held on March 26, 2015
at Teachers College – Columbia University

Peace-Event-2015 banner


CareerEvent1(slide)As in years past, during the day of the event, we hosted a variety of in-depth workshops exploring theory and research, methods of practice, and cases illustrating examples of work to enable sustainable peace.

Additionally, we hosted an information session featuring the programs, departments and centers working in the area of peace, conflict and sustainability at Columbia University. During the information session our AC4 Graduate Fellows showcased their interdisciplinary research or practice-based projects addressing conflict, violence, development, and sustainable peace.

ColemanTalkLastly, in the evenings we typically host speakers including prominent authors and scholars in the field and a even a Nobel laureate. This year, inspired by other popular talk platforms, we decided to change it up a bit by hosting 10 keynote speakers, each providing a concise and engaging 10 minute talk on a topic relevant to achieving sustainable peace.


Key Note Talks: Big Ideas on Complexity Science and Sustainable Peace

Shift your thinking about engaging with conflict and peace. That is the purpose behind these nine inspiring ten-minute talks by scholars and practitioners who view social issues not merely as a single problem to solve, but as a system of interconnected parts – people, institutions, rules, history, environment, and so forth – constantly interacting and changing, yet, in many ways remaining the same.



Complexity, Intractability and Social Change

Peter T. Coleman

Intractable conflicts are those conflicts that persist over time and space. They draw us in and we seem to remain trapped in their grip despite efforts of many to resolve them. Examples are easy to identify – from national and international conflicts to a longstanding family feud. In his 10-minute talk, Dr. Peter Coleman will share a new way of thinking about and engaging in intractable conflict – through the lens of complexity science and dynamical systems theory.



Peace is a Pattern: Simple Rules for Sustainable Peace

Glenda Eoyang

EoyangPresIn complex adaptive systems, including human social systems, patterns emerge when diverse agents follow the same short list of simple rules. In her talk, Dr. Glenda Eoyang will explore some of these simple rules and the emergent patterns they create in both the natural and human worlds. She’ll then explore the question “How can we use simple rules to see, understand, and influence patterns for sustainable peace?”



Layers of Impact

Josh Fisher

FisherTalkMaking gains on environmental, social, and economic sustainable development requires that organizations adapt to a new and increasingly interconnected reality. However, moving into this interconnected space spanning development, environmental management and peacebuilding work is costly and challenging. In his talk, Dr. Fisher offers a perspective on how we can know that efforts to span silos and traditional operational boundaries are worth it.



Intractable Cities? Changing Patterns from Urban Violence to Urban Peace

Beth Fisher-Yoshida and Aldo Civico

CivicoTalkBy 2030, the UN predicts that 80 percent of the world population will live in urban areas, and cities will increasingly be the spaces where conflicts arise and related violence will occur. Dr. Beth Fisher-Yoshida and Dr. Aldo Civico will talk about their joint work with youth groups and community leaders from marginalized areas in Medellin, Colombia, that seeks to address the concrete reality in which they live, to understand the patterns and dynamics that produce the violent system in which they operate, and to imagine how to alter those patterns to move the system toward a nonviolent state.



Social Acupuncture

Orit Gal

GalTalkFor many years, Dr. Orit Gal has been engaged in solving the Middle East conflict and has explored why accumulated actions to resolve the conflict have failed. Dr. Gal suggests that complexity can help us understand why conflict and other social challenges cannot simply be reduced to a list of individual ‘problems to solve’. Rather, she suggests that the metaphor of Chinese acupuncture can offer insights into understanding how small interventions can disrupt and change the behavior of individuals, the dynamics of entire social systems, and the world in which we live.



Limits to Management in Armed Conflict in the Age of Complexity

Armando Geller

GellerTalkSustainable peace is envisioned as a universal concept yet ‘peace’ is emergent and dependent on its context. While working in varying localities, Dr. Armando Geller uses extensive input from a wide range of stakeholders to build models and run simulations as tools for decision makers to explore the meaning of sustainable peace. His talk will illustrate the challenges and utility of employing these models in shaping our ability to effectively manage social systems.





Mathematics of Human Behavior

Larry Liebovitch

Physics models are simple but people are complex. How can mathematical models help us understand human behavior? Dr. Larry Liebovitch will share how simple mathematical models and equations can tell us surprising things about the consequences of human behavior.






(Why Peacebuilders Need to) Dump the Terms ‘Success’ and ‘Failure’

Rob Ricigliano

Ricigliano1Making a sustainable impact in complex peacebuilding environments requires that we stop thinking in terms of success and failure. Complex, adaptive social systems mean that striving for “success” often leads us to make unsustainable or even negative impacts; while avoiding “failure” means we stifle learning and miss opportunities for innovation. Rob Ricigliano will share his work with The Omidyar Group in thinking and acting differently in complex environments in order to implement a new paradigm for making sustainable change in a complex world.



Hidden Patterns in Peace and Reform Processes

Josefine Roos and Stephen Gray

GrayTalkElections, peace talks, protests, and other conflicts are highly visible symbols of countries undergoing political and social change. However, such visible symbols sometimes mask the deeper, hidden patterns that are actually driving the social system. Drawing on examples from Myanmar’s peace and reform process, this talk will illustrate how revealing and acting on hidden patterns can help international assistance avoid inadvertently doing harm, while supporting more sustainable, positive transformation.



Workshops: Hands-On Models, Practices and Cases of Complexity Engagement

Workshops facilitated by innovative scholars and practitioners applying complexity concepts to their work in conflict resolution and sustainable peacebuilding, allowing participants to walk away with new tools, cutting-edge models and inspiring stories to enhance their practice.



Building a Network of Youth and Community Leaders in Medellin (Part I of the Series on Urban Violence Prevention)


Fundacion Puerta Abierta (FPA):

Description: Medellin is a city that has suffered through decades of violence. It has a large number of displaced persons living there from all areas of Colombia. It is also one of the most inspiring cities where youth leaders possess the talent and determination to better their lives and their city. The leaders of FPA will speak about the impact they are having through network mapping and other activities in which they engage to build systems with youth leaders and organizations conducive to peacebuilding. The Urban Violence Project at AC4 partners with FPA in supporting these endeavors.

Human-Wildlife Conflict: System Dynamics and Trans-Disciplinary Approaches

Facilitators: Cynthia Malone and Katherine (Kaggie) Orrick, Masters Candidates of 2015 for Conservation Biology, Ecology, Evolution and Evolutionary Biology Department

Description: Conservationists across the world are beginning to recognize the importance of conflict mitigation between humans and wildlife for effective ecosystem management. Holistic, socio-ecological system approaches that address multiple layers of conflict enhance our ability to foster coexistence between wildlife and local human communities. This relatively new approach to conserving wildlife, as opposed to staunchly separating the environment from humans, has proven to be successful when effectively combined with political and development goals. Cynthia Malone and Katherine (Kaggie) Orrick intend to present an overview of human-wildlife conflict (HWC) and the importance of conflict resolution in terms of conservation success. Along with invited panelist Rae Wynn-Grant, E3B Ph.D. candidate, they will share their research in the realms of development, urbanization and natural resource conflict. Following presentations, the audience will be invited to engage in a discussion of how to bridge disciplinary divisions between conservation and conflict resolution.

How to Improve Your Research and Practice with Systems Mapping

Facilitators: Josefine Roos and Stephen Gray

Please click here for their presentation materials

Description: Josefine Roos and Stephen Gray have been using systems mapping for the last four years with communities in the United States, South Sudan, and Myanmar. Drawing on experience with civil society organizations, UN agencies, governments and NGOs, this interactive workshop will present a how-to guide for using systems mapping to facilitate group learning processes in your own work. Participants will be organized into small groups to develop systems maps based on the instructors’ guidance, so you are encouraged to come armed with your own challenging topics to work on in groups.

Ceasefire through the Arts – “ConVidArte” (Part II of the Series on Urban Violence Prevention)


Fundacion Puerta Abierta (FPA):

  • Wilmar Andres Martinez Valencia
  • Rafael Augusto Restrepo Agudelo
  • Jerson Hader Gonzales Marulanda

Description: Fundacion Puerta Abierta is a youth organization and network based in Medellin, seeking to bring positive social change to their neighborhoods and the city. The leaders of FPA will tell the story of “ConVidArte,” when some of them served as a mediating force to bring a temporary cease fire to gang violence in the neighborhood of Alta Vista. This was done after a long period of violence in order to have a memorial celebration to mourn the murder of a beloved youth known for his great mime abilities. This is one of the many inspiring stories the presenters will share at the Sustaining Peace event to demonstrate how the arts can have a tremendous impact on conflict resolution.

Social Entrepreneurs and Bottom-Up Peace Processes

Facilitator: Ryszard Prazkier, Ph.D.

Please click here for Dr. Prazkier’s presentation materials

Description: Social entrepreneurs usually do not confront apparently insurmountable and protracted peace and conflict issues directly. Instead they build an enabling environment sustaining peace through bottoms-up, endogenous processes which empower people, communities and societies. The workshop will explore how social entrepreneurs – Ashoka Fellows – apply a complexity approach to building durable and sustainable solutions for peace, finding leverage points “somewhere outside” the conflict area, empowering often latent potentials. Social entrepreneurs do this through building social capital and harnessing the chaos-to-order upward causation processes. In that way they are introducing a new kind of Empowering Leadership. Cases based in Thailand, Middle East and other regions will be explored.

Alumni Panel: Mobilizing Theory and Practice for Sustainable Peace

Moderator: Hakim Mohandas Amani Williams, Ed.D. (Teachers College Alum; AC4 Fellow 2009).


Danielle Coon, M.S. (NECR alum); Please click here for presentation materials

Diane Rodriguez-Gomez (Ph.D. candidate; AC4 Fellow 2014); Please click here for presentation materials

Karishma Desai (Ph.D. candidate; AC4 Fellow 2012); Please click here for presentation materials

Sarah Flatto, M.A. (AC4 Fellow 2010)

Description: This panel discussion will feature alumni of the AC4 Fellowship and Columbia’s Negotiation and Conflict Resolution program. This includes both formal presentations and an extensive Q&A. Presenters will share lessons learnt from experiences within the fields of conflict resolution, peace-building and peace education.

Hip-Hop as a Tool for Positive Change in Newark, New Jersey (Part III of the Series on Urban Violence Prevention)

Facilitator: Jean Marc Coutac

Negotiation and the Dynamical Negotiation Network Model

Facilitator: Lukasz Jochemczyk, Ph.D.

Please click here for Dr. Jochemczyk’s presentation materials

Description: Lukasz Jochemczyk of the University of Warsaw will present the Dynamical Negotiation Network model, a new way to explore how to think about and construct negotiation talk, particularly for difficult conflicts. The purpose of negotiation is to achieve a joint decision. When people negotiate, they create a shared representation of the problem. This representation serves as a foundation for developing a joint decision through the negotiation process. In this workshop, Lukasz will show how the quality of the shared representation of the problem relates to the outcome of negotiation. The workshop will also explore ways to achieve a better outcome.

Storytelling in Contexts of Conflict

Facilitator: Jill Strauss, Ph.D.

Please click here for Dr. Jill Strauss’ presentation materials

Description: What is the role of narrative in contexts of conflict? Jill Strauss will share her experience using storytelling and dialogue to support conflict resolution in contexts of conflict. She will facilitate interactive activities and present on her Fulbright project in Northern Ireland which integrated storytelling and visual art for empathy and validation as one way to address a history of mutual humiliation and historical conflict. Through the arts, she explores what it means to “walk in the other’s shoes” to create empathy and to find alternatives using our imaginations.


AC4 Fellows Poster Sessions


The Potentials of Geothermal Energy in Puna, Hawai’i

Ann-2Ann M. Iwashita, PhD

Candidate in Applied Anthropology

As an AC4 Fellow, Ann investigated how geothermal energy, drawn from Kīlauea Volcano in Hawaiʻi, serves as a form around which material and social lives gather and collide. Her research examines conflicts that arise between development interests and local and Native Hawaiian communities as openings to explore myriad conceptions of a ‘good’ life, attachments to potentials and imaginaries, and possibilities for living better together.

Click here for Ann Iwashita’s video presentation titled “The Field and its Articulations”. ann video

When War Enters The Classroom: A Case Study on the Relationships among School Community Members amidst Armed Conflict on the Colombian-Ecuadorian Border

diana Diana Rodriguez-Gomez, EdD Candidate in International Education Development

Diana is an Ed.D. Candidate in International Educational Development at Teachers College, with a concentration in Peace and Human Rights Education. For her AC4 project, she is examining how students’ affiliations with war actors, such as guerrilleros, and soldiers order social relationships and distribute financial resources within the school community in the Colombian and Ecuadorian border. She expects her work will provide a guide to some of the complex realities that emerge in processes of peace and reconciliation.

Before the Flood Comes the Leak: The Impact of Leaked Human Rights Reports on Conflict

grantGrant Gordon, PhD Candidate in Political Science

Grant’s dissertation examines how monitoring conflict deters violence before it takes place. With the AC4 Fellowship, he analyzed the impact of leaked human rights reports on the behavior of state and non-state actors engaged in conflict. To do so, he conduct fieldwork in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo and examined how leaked human rights reporting altered the frequency and intensity of violence that took place in 2012.

Vehicle Noise Disturbances on African Elephants a Small Game Reserve in South Africa

kaggieKaggie Orrick, M.A. Candidate in Conservation Biology

As an AC4 fellow and part of the E3B graduate program, Kaggie will determine the impact vehicle noise has on African elephants in small protected areas. Vehicle traffic affects acoustic communication and causes deleterious physiological responses in both humans and wildlife but has not been widely examined in large terrestrial mammals. Wildlife in small protected areas which are surrounded by roads have less space to utilize within the reserve and have constant, forced exposure to chronic noise from commuting vehicles. Kaggie worked and lived on a game reserve in South Africa for three years before attending the Columbia graduate program and hopes her research will provide vital information about the future of small, protected areas, quantify the true role human development has on elephants and find solutions for this human-wildlife conflict.

Learning to Govern: The Student Police Cadet and the Making of Student-Citizens for a Democratic India

mary annMary Ann Chacko, EdD Candidate in Curriculum and Teaching

Prior to joining Teachers College, Mary Ann has been a middle school teacher and teacher educator in India. Mary Ann is using her AC4 funds to conduct a year-long multi-site ethnographic study of the Student Police Cadet (SPC) program, a community policing project implemented in public schools across the Indian state of Kerala. Her research seeks to examine the factors that enabled the institutionalization of this cadet program in schools; the ways in which the SPC curriculum and pedagogical relations construct cadets as student-citizens; and its relation to dominant discourses of good governance, decentralization, and participatory democracy.

Click here for Mary Ann Chacko’s video presentation.

mary ann chacko

Laws in Conflict: Preferences for Alternative Legal Institutions in Chechnya

egorEgor Lazarev, PhD Candidate in Political Science

Egor specializes in comparative politics and political psychology. His research focuses on the issues in ethnic and religious politics, conflict and legal pluralism. His AC4 project aims to explore the politics of legal pluralism in the post-conflict Chechnya. How do people choose between alternative legal institutions: why do some Chechens prefer customary law, others shari’a and others Russian law? How do legal authorities make their decisions and enforce them? And why Chechen government promote legal pluralism that seems to undermine its power? Previously, Egor conducted field research in the North Caucasus, Central Asia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Turkey. Before entering graduate school, Egor was a Research Fellow at the Laboratory for Comparative Social Research at the Higher School of Economics (Russia) and a Carnegie Visiting Fellow at the Center for Political Studies at the University of Michigan.

Rebel Behavior in the Philippines

michaelMichael Rubin, PhD Candidate in Political Science

Michael’s research addresses the political linkages between violent non-state actors (rebels) and civilians in civil wars. In particular, his dissertation investigates the ways in which civilians may hold rebels accountable for their conduct in rebel-controlled territory. It emphasizes the impact of various forms of civilian collective action on rebels’ governance strategies and their treatment of civilians, including the provision of public goods and the use of civilian-targeted violence. AC4 funds supported case study research in Central and Eastern Mindanao, along with some interviews in Manila, Philippines.

A Socio-Ecological Exploration of Human-Wildlife Conflict in the Context of Oil Palm Plantation Development in Cameroon

cynthia mCynthia Malone, MA Candidate in Conservation Biology

Large-scale industrial agricultural expansion is a significant driver of biodiversity loss, increased carbon emissions, and substantial livelihood disruption for communities in tropical ecosystems. Cynthia’s study employs a socio-ecological systems approach to examine human-wildlife encounters that have escalated into conflict in the Ndian Division of southwest Cameroon, home to a number of protected areas alongside extensive smallholder and industrial oil palm plantations (both extant and planned concessions). Having conducted over 100 interviews and employed fine-scale spatial surveys of select farms across a land use gradient from protected areas to oil palm plantations, her study provides insight into how conservation practitioners might use a more inter-disciplinary approach towards achieving multi-functional agro-forest mosaic landscapes in Cameroon and similar tropical landscapes.

Communal Space in Post Disaster Rikuzentakata City in Japan: Rebuilding of Sustainable Cooperative Communities

yumiko and yukiYumiko Murai, EdD Candidate in Communications and Education

Yuki Ohsaka, MS Candidate in Social Work

Yuki and Yumiko will investigate how people living in post-disaster stricken areas in Japan have developed sustainable cooperative communities, and whether the existence of communal spaces can contribute to reconstructing social connections that have been disrupted by disasters. Communal spaces are the places such as cafes, libraries, and recreation centers developed after the disaster to help people reconstruct local communities. A number of scholars have reported that positive human connections and a culture of peace promote community resilience, which helps members strive mentally and physically in a post-disaster situation. Taking multidisciplinary approaches, we plan to investigate the impact of communal spaces built after the disaster on promoting meaningful social connections and sustainable development of the local economy. They will conduct their research in Rikuzentakata, Iwate prefecture, Japan.


Contested Border Regions of Costa Rica/Nicaragua

Chelsea Abbas, PhD Candidate in Applied Anthropology

As an AC4 fellow, Chelsea will conduct research on the effects of border militarization policies on local residents in the internationally disputed borderlands of Costa Rica and Nicaragua. Through an examination of access to basic resources, migration patterns and social relations in the conflicted region her research addresses issues of national security and border reform as they relate to notions of social justice and human rights.

Click here for Chelsea Abbas’ slideshow presentation.


Neglected Conflicts in West Africa and the Role of Languages

yohannYohann Ripert, PhD Candidate in Comparative Literature and Society

Yohann’s research examines the dynamic between the influential power of the former colonial languages and the space for minority languages in the context of autonomy and identity/territorial claims in West Africa. This investigation analyzes linguistics challenges as a new tool in preventing cultural violence and promoting conflict resolution. As an AC4 fellow, Yohann traveled to Dakar, Senegal, where he conducted interviews at the IFAN to understand how communities have relied on a plurality of languages to remain engaged with the reality of a constantly changing electronic and globalized world. More than a study of peoples and their cultures, ultimately, this project allows us to learn from the survival strategies of communities under constant challenges from the pressures of global forces.


Center Information Tables


MortonDeutschLogoMorton Deutsch International Center for Cooperation and Conflict Resolution (MD-ICCCR) at Teachers College is an innovative center committed to developing knowledge and practice to promote constructive conflict resolution, effective cooperation, and social justice. We partner with individuals, groups, organizations, and communities to create tools and environments from which conflicts can be resolved constructively and just and peaceful relationships can develop. We work with sensitivity to cultural differences and emphasize the links between theory, research, and practice. Our training and work with the community is rooted in our scholarship.


M.S in Negotiation and Conflict Resolution (NECR)NECRlogo is the only graduate degree program in conflict resolution in New York City. It combines theory and applied skills practice to prepare students to constructively address conflict and make a positive difference in the world through building community within the program and the field and developing new frames of how to observe, interpret and make meaning. Students in the program have opportunities to both expand and focus their interests through coursework and applied research, as well as gain rich practical experience through fieldwork opportunities.


Arnold A. Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies at SIPA was founded in 1951 under the sponsorship of Dwight D. Eisenhower during his tenure as president of Columbia University. Members of the Institute offer courses on American foreign policy, national security, international politics, political economy, environmental policy, and international organizations.


International Security Policy Concentration (ISP) at SIPA is designed for students interested in defense policy, military strategy, arms control, conflict resolution, and peacekeeping, coercion, and alternatives to the use of force. Coursework provides a conceptual foundation for understanding international conflict and the political, economic and military components of policies, and capabilities for coping with the possibility of war, as well as expertise for analyzing specific functional and regional security issues.


International Conflict Resolution Concentration (ICR) at SIPA provides students with an understanding of the root causes of international conflicts and of how conflict resolution takes place on an international level. Students receive practical, hands-on training in various methodologies of international conflict resolution. The specialization, which builds on curriculum put in place by the Center for International Conflict Resolution at SIPA (CICR), seeks to integrate theory and practice, providing a venue for leading practitioners and scholars to prepare the next generation of conflict resolution specialists.


Institute for the Study of Human Rights (ISHR) at The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and SIPA was established in 1978 at Columbia University. ISHR is committed to its three core goals of providing excellent human rights education to Columbia students, fostering innovative interdisciplinary academic research, and offering its expertise in capacity building to human rights leaders, organizations, and universities around the world.


Barnard Center for Research on Women (BCRW) has been at the very forefront of feminist action and scholarship since its founding in 1971. BCRW promotes women’s and social justice issues in the local spheres of the Barnard College community and academic and activist networks in New York City, as well as having a voice in national and transnational feminist organizing and research. Our publications, including the webjournal S&F Online and the report series New Feminist Solutions, build on the conversations started at our events, and advance cutting-edge feminist theory and practice. All of our materials, including podcasts and videos of many of our events, are available at our website,


Center for Human Rights Documentation & Research The CHRDR supports the community of teachers, students, researchers, and law and social justice advocates working in the multidisciplinary sphere of human rights. The Center pursues three programmatic directions: building research collections, supporting and engaging in human rights education efforts, and developing events and collaborations related to human rights documentation and research. The Center is the official repository for the archives of major human rights organizations such as Amnesty International USA, the Committee of Concerned Scientists, Human Rights First, and Human Rights Watch. The Center was established in 2005 and is based in the Columbia University Libraries and Information Services.


The Tamer Center for Social Enterprise: Columbia Business School has long been committed to advancing the practice and understanding of social enterprise having trained leaders with a commitment to solving social and environmental issues for over three decades. By supporting new ideas from faculty and industry leaders, as well as the curricular and extracurricular opportunities of students, the Business School is increasing the understanding of how management can contribute to society while developing the next generation of social enterprise leaders. In 1981 Professor Ray Horton founded the Public and Nonprofit Management Program, which was renamed the Social Enterprise Program in 2000, and widened to include social entrepreneurship, corporate social responsibility, and international development. The mission was to advance the understanding of how business can contribute to society and the environment, by emphasizing the vital role that social enterprise plays in transforming communities. In 2015, The Tamer Center for Social Enterprise was established by a generous gift from Sandra and Tony Tamer, which expanded the existing Social Enterprise Program at Columbia Business School. The new funding allowed for the launch of the Tamer Fund for Social Ventures, expansion of the existing Loan Assistance program, extension of the Social Enterprise Summer Fellowship Program to Columbia students beyond the Business School, funding for social ventures at the Columbia Startup Lab and further development of the advisory network for Columbia’s social entrepreneurs.


Community Impact- Columbia University Community Impact (CI) serves disadvantaged people in the Harlem, Washington Heights, and Morningside Heights communities. Community Impact strives to provide high quality programs, advance the public good, and foster meaningful volunteer opportunities for students, faculty, and staff of Columbia University. CI provides food, clothing, shelter, education, job training, and companionship for residents in its surrounding communities. CI consists of a dedicated corps of about 900 Columbia University student volunteers participating in 27 community service programs, which serve more than 8,000 people each year. Community Impact has partnerships with more than 100 community organizations and agencies who do service work in the Harlem, Washington Heights, and Morningside Heights communities, including service organizations, social service offices, religious institutions, and schools. Many of these organizations refer their clients to Community Impact’s programs and work collaboratively to positively influence residents’ lives.

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