PACS faculty members' peacebuilding projects

Friday, February 22, 2019

Peace and Conflict Studies courses at Conrad Grebel University College are taught by a number of highly trained and experienced individuals who are experts in their fields. These include many adjunct instructors, as well as Assistant, Associate, and Full Professors. While all of these individuals are engaged in exciting projects, the following are just a few examples of what professors in the PACS program have been up to lately.

Professor joins partnership to reduce violence in Haiti | Professor develops new PACS course "Math for Good and Evil" | Professor publishes book to tell the stories of Ugandan women peacebuilders

   

Professor joins partnership to reduce violence in Haiti

Reina Neufeldt leading a mid-term evaluation-reflection workshop. Tables form a circle for everyone to sit around. Reina is standing in order to lead those present.Reina Neufeldt leading a mid-term evaluation-reflection workshop. 

“Piti piti Zwazo fè nich.” “Slowly, slowly the bird makes its nest” the Haitian Creole proverb goes. It speaks to the importance of careful work to reach a desired and sometimes fragile end, such as a safe place for communities. 

For two years, Reina Neufeldt, Associate Professor of Peace and Conflict Studies at Conrad Grebel University College (CGUC), has supported work led by Mercy Corps Haiti to make four communities safer and more secure. The project, called Ann Viv Ansanm, or “we live together” in Creole, addresses two root causes of youth violence in Haiti: the lack of voice for youth in their communities, and the lack of constructive social and economic opportunities for youth. The peacebuilding initiative, funded over 28 months by Global Affairs Canada, focuses on three areas: community-led research and action on drivers of conflict; resourcing conflict resolution and life skills; and economic and financial inclusion. 

The primary people doing the careful peacebuilding work are local, community-based organizations, community leaders and youth in the four communities. Neufeldt and her CGUC team supported the Mercy Corps team’s learning, which fed into adaptive management in this innovative program.

The CGUC team included two Master of Peace and Conflict Studies students, Riyaz Basi and Katelynn Folkerts. Both students spent five months in internships based in Port au Prince, learning about peacebuilding in Haitian communities, and supporting the Mercy Corps Haiti team’s implementation of the project. They were involved in providing assistance to teams of local youth researchers, designing monitoring and evaluation tools adapted to peacebuilding objectives, and collecting observations on program implementation to support organizational learning.

To date, the project has reached more than 2,600 youth and community members in four neighborhoods.  Look for more information on the project in the forthcoming case studies!

   

Professor develops new PACS course "Math for Good and Evil"

Peace and Conflict Studies will be offering a new course in the 2019-20 academic year entitled “Math for Good and Evil.” It is believed that this course will be the first of its kind taught at a Canadian university. The course has been developed by Lowell Ewert, an Associate Professor of PACS at Grebel, and Judith Koeller, a member of the University of Waterloo Math Faculty, who will co-teach the course. The course will focus on bringing together the topics of peace and math and will encourage math students to better understand how their discipline impacts peace, while challenging peace studies students to reflect on why math is an important partner for PACS.

  

Professor publishes book to tell the stories of Ugandan women peacebuilders

Jennifer BallJennifer Ball 

Jennifer Ball, Assistant Professor of Peace and Conflict Studies, recently published her book “Women, Development, and Peacebuilding in Africa: Stories from Uganda” with Palgrave Macmillan. The book focuses on the roles that women play in peacebuilding at the grassroots level in the Ugandan context.

For the creation of the book, Jennifer spent time in Uganda gathering the life stories of five Ugandan women who carry out development and peacebuilding by various means. The book tells these women’s stories in their own words – rather than tell their stories, Jennifer aimed to use her privilege to create a platform for the women’s voices to be heard.

Vitally, these women do not self-define as peacebuilders. Rather, it is Jennifer who applies the lens of peacebuilding to the women’s stories. There is a distinct lack of international development literature with a peacebuilding lens, and Jennifer’s book has sought to begin to fill that gap. The book also addresses the lack of literature surrounding women, especially African women, peacebuilders at the grassroots level.

Jennifer’s book is a reminder that peacebuilding is context specific. Though the actions of the five women featured may not seem to be related to peacebuilding, the contexts of their actions prove otherwise. As Jennifer writes, “Within communities there are ordinary people who are involved in building a culture of peace, even if, and perhaps especially if, they do not self-define as peacebuilders.”

    

Professor joins partnership to reduce violence in Haiti | Professor develops new PACS course "Math for Good and Evil" | Professor publishes book to tell the stories of Ugandan women peacebuilders