By David J. Smith, February 28, 2016
Plans are underway to hold Atlantic Promise 2016 , formerly called Atlantic Hope, March 10-13, 2016 in Fellsmere, FL. This full immersion field training exercise is sponsored by the Forage Center for Peacebuilding and Humanitarian Education, Inc. based in Rockville, MD.
Starting in 2000, the Atlantic Hope exercise was held in South Florida, first at Florida Atlantic University and then at Indian River State College. Originally designed for undergraduates, in 2013 the exercise was adapted for graduate students in the fields of conflict resolution and management, peacebuilding, and humanitarian and disaster assistance. In a previous blog I talked about the graduate version of the exercise.
Renamed Atlantic Promise, the program is designed as a 4-day full immersion field training exercise where students are continuously in role, playing members of a fictitious NGO that has been deployed to a conflict zone that is also experiencing a natural disaster. Over the course of the exercise, students must accomplish necessary tasks to meet their agency’s objectives including conflict assessment, the negotiation of humanitarian space, delivery of aid, responding to medical needs, and meeting with prisoners incarcerated by the country’s government. Working in teams,
students develop team building and organizational skills, and see to their safety needs, as well as test their endurance for working in an inhospitable and austere environment. For 2016, 30 masters and PhD students from the conflict resolution programs at George Mason University, Kennesaw State University, Nova Southeastern University, as well as students from the disaster resilience program at Tulane University will participate. A staff of faculty/experts, as well as 20-25 role players will support them.
The City of Fellsmere, Florida and Operation Hope of Greater Florida, Inc. are hosting this year’s exercise. A number of groups and individuals have donated their time and resources to supporting the exercise. They can found on the center’s sponsors page. This year’s exercise is also supported by a generous grant from the United Service Foundation, a Mennonite organization based in Shrewsbury, PA. On March 9, 2016, the day before the exercise, a reception at the Marsh Landing Restaurant (4 p.m.) in Fellsmere will be held to honor the late Dr. Paul Forage, who passed away in 2015, and was the original visionary of the exercise and in whose honor the center is named.
The Forage Center plans in the future to continue to offer full-immersion field exercises for students, as well as practitioners. If you are interested in the work of the Forage Center, please go here. Articles about the Atlantic Hope program, the predecessor to the Atlantic Promise, can be found here. For more information contact me at email@example.com.