For the second year in a row, the Atlantic Hope/Graduate Exercise (AH/G) was held at Indian River State College in Ft. Pierce, Florida March 13-16, 2014. The exercise has been held since 2000 for undergraduate students, but last year for the first time was offered for graduate students studying conflict resolution and peacebuilding. The program is run by the Consortium for Humanitarian Service and Education.
This year’s program brought together 30 master’s and PhD students from George Mason University, Kennesaw State University, George Washington University, and the University of North Carolina, Greensboro. As part of this group students hailed from Colombia, Germany, Turkey, Nepal, Ghana, and Ethiopia. In addition nearly 25 local residents, Indian River State College students, Ft. Pierce police officers, and faculty participate as role-players.
AH/G is a 70 hour full immersion simulation where students role play as members of an NGO – International Humanitarian Action (IHA) – that provides humanitarian and peacebuilding assistance to the citizens of the fictional county of Atlantica which is in the midst of a civil war that pits the Northern Atlanticans against the Southern Atlanticans. During their stay in Atlantica, IHA members participate in ‘in-country’ training on leadership, negotiation, and international law; negotiate for humanitarian space with government, military, and opposition leaders (often late at night and in the “bush”); visit prisoners in the ‘Black Swan’ – a military prison; conduct a village peacebuilding assessment of the village of Southport; set up, live in, and operate a humanitarian assistance camp; treat the victims of the war; hold a press conference, and negotiate check point crossings. The culminating event on the final day is a prisoner exchange between the military and the opposition.
AH/G is designed to provide graduate students with the opportunity to develop and hone a range of conflict resolution, peacebuilding, and humanitarian related skills that they might use both in domestic and international settings. The exercise been supported by grants from the U.S. Institute of Peace.
ACResolution, the magazine of the Association for Conflict Resolution, recently published a piece in its winter 2014 edition written by Paul C. Forage, Ian Proctor, and David J. Smith titled “Full-Immersion Simulation As A Means For Fostering Skills for International Peacebuilding: The Atlantic Hope Experience” which discusses both the undergraduate and graduate programs.
Plans are underway to expand AH/G and potentially offer it more frequently. If your graduate program is interested in learning more about the program (as well as the similar undergraduate program), contact David J. Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The below video shows IHA members interviewing the mayor of Southport as part of their peacebuilding assessment.