International Education and Peacebuilding Networks: Publications

A few years back I was part of a meeting at the U.S. Institute of Peace that was looking at the connections between international education and peacebuilding. My colleague Jeff Pugh at the University of Massachusetts/Boston led the effort. He’s recently share several publications that came out of the effort. They are below.

Jeffrey D. Pugh & Karen Ross, “Mapping the field of international peace education programs and exploring their networked impact on peacebuilding,” Conflict Resolution Quarterly 37, no. 1 (2019): 49-66. 

Conventional wisdom holds that international education builds cross‐cultural capacity, and evaluations of peacebuilding interventions point to significant impacts. Yet, little scholarship links these fields or explores the significance of networks of participants in either area for mobilizing transnational peacebuilding capital. We address this by examining how peace and conflict‐oriented international education (PCIE) programs enable construction of lasting alumni networks, and how these can contribute to longer‐term conflict prevention and peacebuilding activities after participants return home. We draw upon an original dataset of 178 PCIE programs and a survey of program founders and staff.

Jeffrey D. Pugh, “A Catalyst for Action: Training and Education as Networking Platforms for Peace Projects,” Journal of Peacebuilding and Development. 15, no. 1 (April 2020). Published via OnlineFirst.

Training and capacity building are common peacebuilding interventions that represent potentially powerful platforms for change.  However, there is a widespread assumption among many peace practitioners that teaching someone skills and increasing their knowledge of conflict resolution concepts will lead naturally to individual behavioral changes and aggregate into societal reductions in violence.  The internal logic within this theory of change is often underspecified, assuming that increasing knowledge about how to resolve conflict effectively will make it more likely that participants will do so.  Furthermore, most of the attention is focused on what to teach, rather than on who, or on how to build connections to ensure that, once trained, these participants have access to information, networks, and resources to be able to turn their knowledge and attitude changes into action.  In this briefing, I introduce a framework that I call the catalytic network model, and illustrate briefly how it has worked in practice in  an international education/training program: The Regional Institute for the Study and Practice of Strategic Nonviolent Action in the Americas, which took place in Quito, Ecuador.  This program is an example of a growing number of international training and education programs, including study abroad, that increase knowledge and skills of participants in conflict resolution, prevention, and peacebuilding. I argue here that who is trained, the networks in which they are embedded, and how they stay connected to each other fundamentally influences their peacebuilding impact.  

Jeffrey D. Pugh, “Weaving transnational activist networks: Balancing transnational and bottom-up capacity-building strategies for nonviolent action in Latin America,” Middle Atlantic Review of Latin American Studies 2, no. 1 (2018): 130-144. 

Latin America has been a laboratory for innovative strategic nonviolent action to confront oppression, corruption, human rights violations, and authoritarianism. One of the most salient explanations for why some movements achieve greater scale and effectiveness in meeting their objectives is the skills of movement organizers in unifying the population, planning strategic moves, and maintaining nonviolent discipline. The training and education to improve these skills often requires resources, transnational networks, and information sharing from external actors to complement the contextual knowledge, local legitimacy, and embedded institutional networks of local insiders. This essay proposes a model for international support of nonviolent action training and education that avoids the pitfalls of imposed liberal peacebuilding and colonizing hierarchies that could undermine movement legitimacy and expose activists to greater scrutiny and repression. In order to illustrate how the model works in practice, the essay examines the case of the Regional Institute for the Study and Practice of Strategic Nonviolent Action in the Americas.

[Spanish version of the article above:] Jeffrey D. Pugh & Adriana Rincon, “Tejiendo redes de activismo transnacional: el balance entre estrategias internacionales y locales en la construcción de capacidades para la acción no violenta en América Latina,” Middle Atlantic Review of Latin American Studies 2, no. 1 (2018): 145-160. 

América Latina ha sido por décadas un escenario primordial para la creación de innovadoras estrategias de la no violencia con el fin de confrontar la opresión, corrupción, violaciones a los derechos humanos y el autoritarismo. Una de las explicaciones fundamentales del éxito de ciertos movimientos en términos de alcance y efectividad en el logro de sus objetivos es la habilidad de quienes los lideran de unificar a la población, planear acciones estratégicas y mantener la disciplina de la no violencia. La preparación y el entrenamiento para mejorar tales habilidades implican recursos, redes transnacionales e información suministrada por actores externos, así como el conocimiento del contexto, la legitimidad local y las redes locales institucionales. Este ensayo propone un modelo de apoyo internacional de entrenamiento y educación en acción no violenta que evita caer en la trampa de imponer el modelo liberal de la construcción de paz y que desafía jerarquías colonizadoras que podrían poner en peligro la legitimidad de los movimientos y exponer a los activistas a mayor escrutinio y represión. Con el fin de ilustrar cómo este modelo puede operar en la práctica, este ensayo examina el caso del Programa Regional para el Estudio y Práctica de la Acción Estratégica No violenta en las Américas..


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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