A Centre for Teaching, Research and Practice
CICR seeks to become a major centre, a point of reference and somewhere for parties in need to turn, wherever they may be, for knowledge-based or practical support in dealing with violence and conflict in a positive, constructive manner. We aim to create a space in which CICR is able to offer its knowledge, experience and expertise, while combining this with the knowledge, experience and expertise of our local partners. This synergy – between the centre and its partners – is at the heart of our understanding of the way in which we can contribute to the transformation of international deadly conflict.
CICR is made up of three essential components: teaching, research, and practice. Rather than three pillars standing alone, we like to think of these components are overlapping, intersecting and fundamentally inseparable elements which provide the guarantee that we are bridging the vital gap between research and practice. As such, we seek to ensure that knowledge and understanding gained in the world of academia has a positive and long-lasting effect on those actually affected by the violence and effects generated by conflict.
Research is a means to gather knowledge, experience and – due to the access this gives – a certain amount of leverage. We seek to collect, produce and share knowledge by generating our own body of theoretical and field work on the one hand, and by creating a network of scholars, universities and think-tanks on the other. The approach we take to research is an interdisciplinary one, ensuring that the most vital tools, approaches and understandings of conflict are taken and used productively in the service of the field of conflict transformation and peace-building. Research will be promoted through the creation of opportunity for exchange in different frameworks both at Columbia and in the field.
More specifically we can, for example, create thematic bibliographies for students to work on, create databases on case studies in the field, and methods for exchanging information which help make CICR a major point of reference for researchers and practitioners – both state and non state actors – and a useful tool for our work promoting sustainable peace. The research element is actor-oriented, anticipatory of movements and progressions in both the academic and practical fields. Research projects are, therefore, inspired by a policy-orientation.
Practice seeks to contribute to positive change during three moments of a conflict’s actual or potential life-span: prevention, during, and post. Intervention can be small or large scale, seeking to have an impact on a specific phenomenon, neighborhood or region. We seek to use our interventions to help address some of the challenges posed by the interference of the modern world.
As such, we seek to use practice to create tools, knowledge and support in order to:
- Offer assistance to mediators, facilitators and parties during all moments of conflict and the transition to peace: enhancing prevention, supporting those touched by violence, providing encouragement and expertise during negotiation.
- Empower and strengthen local capacities to deal with the destructive elements of conflict in order to move towards, firstly ‘negative’ peace (An absence of violence) and, more crucially, towards ‘positive’ peace, societies which have the structures to deal with conflict non-violently, and the capabilities to move people towards reconciliation, while offering individuals the opportunities for fulfillment.
- Encourage and nourish the implementation of peace agreements in a positive and sustainable framework that encourages participatory engagement of people on the ground, at all levels.
- Advise small neighborhoods and/communities on how they can create peace – freeing a territory from violence piece by piece. This can be through practical trainings, dialogue-enhancing exercises, specific programs or workshops which seek, for example, to transform the way participants perceive the conflict so that it is no longer seen as being zero-sum but a situation in which both, or all sides will gain from peace.
CICR seeks to contribute to a world community that shares both goods and goals based on unity in plurality, and solidarity in difference.
Teaching at CICR should reflect the synergy between research and practice, and as such reflect what CICR is doing in these fields. Courses, therefore, should intertwine with the work of our researchers, and bring in fundamental learning that is gained from practice in the field.
Students should be trained in theory and practice in such a way as to effectively equip them to embark on work both work in the field and research work in academic centers and think-tanks, focusing on learning around the following essential elements: prevention and quiet diplomacy, conflict transformation methodologies, personal coping strategies for trauma situations, post conflict reconstruction and analytical tools for effective conflict assessment.
With this in mind, teaching should investigate and encourage students to look into movements that suggests transformations in the field, or other fields that can be used to compliment research in the domain of conflict transformation and peace-building.
A fundamental part of teaching and training should equip students with the tools necessary to apply theory to practice, through an exploration of suitable case studies, bringing in specific, relevant field practitioners to contribute to learning where possible.