ACR Gathering: Defining Our Field and Work in Challenging Times

I’ve written before about the initiative that was started at Point of View/George Mason University in June that is looking at our field, the challenges it faces, and ways to better connect those working to advance conflict resolution and peacebuilding.   At Point of View in June 2017,  50 professionals from organizations were brought together for two days  to consider what we do and who we are.

After the June meeting, it was decided that the process used there would be applied in a more abbreviated way in upcoming professional conferences including the Association for Conflict Resolution (ACR) meeting in Dallas, the Alliance for Peacebuilding meeting in Washington, DC, and the Peace and Justice Studies Association meeting in Birmingham.

At the ACR meeting this week (10/11-10/14), Bryan Hanson, ACR president, and I facilitated a session looking at the field.  The session was attended about 25 professionals at the conference.  Bryan and I , working with D.G. Mawn and Jen Batton, who could not attend, designed a discussion that centered around  these questions:

  • How do we define our work, and who we are?
  • What inspires us about our work?
  • What are the possibilities for our work (including areas we need to focus on)?
  • What are challenges we should focus on?
  • What are challenges that impede our efforts?
  • How can we support each other better?

The discussion was wide ranging.  The audience identified themselves mostly as mediators, and focusing on conflict resolution.  This aligns with the character of an ACR gathering.

The sheets capturing the discussion are below.

This process will continue through June 2018, at which time the initiative, now called the “Mosaic of Networks,” will reconvene at Point of View.




Published by David J. Smith

I am a career coach, consultant, and head of a not for profit - the Forage Center - that offers humanitarian education training. I also teach at George Mason University and Drexel University. A one time lawyer, I spent many years teaching in a community college where I was a Fulbright U.S. Scholar teaching in Estonia. I'm the author of Peace Jobs: A Student's Guide to Starting a Career Working for Peace (IAP 2016). I've been married to my best friend for over 31 years and we have two well adjusted adult children who teach me something new everyday. I live in Rockville, Maryland.

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