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In this issue: Letter from AC4 Co-Director Peter Coleman, Interview with Josh Fisher, Upcoming events,  AC4 Fellowship opportunities, and more!
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Providing you with the latest news in conflict, violence prevention, peace and sustainability at Columbia University

A Note from Our Co-Director, Dr. Peter Coleman


Greetings all,

It is a pleasure to inaugurate this first edition of the Advanced Consortium on Cooperation, Conflict and Complexity’s newsletter.  With Labor Day behind us and classes beginning here at Columbia, AC4 wishes a warm welcome to students, faculty and staff as they return from summer holidays and get ready for the 2012-2013 school year.  While the return to school can be hectic, September also represents the chance to reconnect with classmates and colleagues, and to rekindle our academic energy, picking up where we left off in May. 

Here at AC4, we have many exciting things to look forward to this fall.  For starters, we welcome Joshua Fisher, Earth Institute Fellow and our first post-doctoral scholar, to Columbia and to the Earth Institute; Josh will be an invaluable addition to our team and his expertise on crisis mapping and natural resource management  and we are confident that he will make a significant contribution to our scholarly community.  In addition, we have greatly expanded AC4 Link, our new web-based information hub that highlights all faculty, centers, and programs that conduct research and practice as well as teach activities related to conflict resolution, violence prevention, sustainable development, and peace.

We also have several exciting events lined up, which you can read more about below.  From book launches to film screenings, AC4 is preparing for a semester filled with opportunities for dialogue and learning.  Without a doubt, our biggest event will be the Sustainable Peace Conference, to be held on November 7.  The conference will showcase research by AC4 projects, as well as featuring workshops led by academic centers and research teams here at Columbia.  We look forward to seeing many of you there. 

For those of us in the peace and conflict resolution community, September holds particular significance; it marks the convening of the United Nations General Assembly, where member states strive to arrive at solutions for pressing, global problems.  This year, September also reminds us that we are in the “home stretch” of the 2012 election season, which has seen Americans of all political stripes engage in often heated debates about the best path for the future of the country.  

With these important events in mind, it is all the more crucial that we understand conflict resolution and build bridges between what is learned in the classroom and what is practiced in politics, business and day-to-day interactions.  Those of us who make up the peace and conflict resolution community here at Columbia are uniquely poised to help create these connections, and so it is with great excitement that AC4 kicks off the 2012-2013 school year. 

Sincerely,
Peter T. Coleman

Interview with Joshua Fisher, AC4 Post Doctoral Fellow


1)     What got you interested in the field of conflict resolution and the study of civil violence?
My parents were very instrumental in fostering my interest in conflict resolution and my concern for civil violence.  I was raised on a small ranch in rural Utah where life seemed very immediate and the 'world' seemed very distant. During the late 80s and early 90s my parents helped focus my attention on events like the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Tiananmen Square demonstrations, and the collapse of the Soviet Union. Focusing on those events helped me realize that the world was much bigger and more complex than I knew, and that people were struggling for civil justice and peace.  From a very early age I decided to commit myself to those same struggles. The 'world' remained a distant and somewhat abstract idea from the solitude of our ranching community, but my parents made every effort to bring it closer and to nuture my interest in global struggles for stability and peace.

2)     Who are some of your biggest academic influences?
 I was heavily influenced in my early academic life by the American Environmentalists of the late 19th and early 20th century. Among the most influential were figures like John Muir, Aldo Leopold, and Gifford Pinchot.  Living and working on our family ranch, I intuitively understood the immediate connections between environmental quality, economics, health, and social stability.   In my early academic career I studied Forestry, and the works of these authors enabled me to expand my understanding of the local or immediate connections between the social and natural worlds to a larger, global scale. That expanded understanding led me to the idea that effective natural resource management could be a useful tool for working on issues of poverty, violence, and development.
As I progressed into my graduate and doctoral studies, I was heavily influenced by the work being pursued at the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO) that looks explicitly at the connections between armed conflict, sustainable peace, and environmental factors. I was particularly influenced by the Institute's innovative methodological work on geospatial and spatial-statistical conflict modeling.

3)     What brings you to Columbia, and what do you hope to achieve while you’re here?  
I am here at Columbia as a postdoctoral researcher at the Earth Institute. Being sponsored by AC4 in the Earth Fellows program offers me an incredible opportunity to work in a world-class institution at the intersection of conflict studies, development, and environmental science. Over the course of this fellowship I hope to collaborate with many of the incredible minds at the Earth Institute and begin a body of research that works at the intersection of those specific elements of the social and natural worlds.

4)     What advice do you have for younger students in the conflict resolution field who also aspire to have academic careers?
 The most valuable tool that students can acquire is solid methodological training. The need for interdisciplinary research and researchers is rising dramatically at institutions around the world. That need is creating new opportunities for Conflict Resolution scholars and practitioners to have a voice and a role in both field-based and theoretical research. However, in order to contribute in meaningful ways, students and graduates need to have a solid foundation in research methods in order to understand the research their colleagues are conducting, to communicate effectively across discipline lines, and to conduct robust and innovative research with meaningful results.  Whatever the approach they choose - qualitative, quantitative, experimentation, etc. - dedicating time and energy to mastering methodology is imperative to successful scholarship.

Learn more by visiting Joshua Fisher's AC4 Link profile

Student Fellowships

Each year, the Advanced Consortium on Cooperation, Conflict, and Complexity (AC4) funds as many as 11 Columbia University graduate students conducting interdisciplinary research in areas addressing conflict, violence, peace-building and sustainable development (such projects might include- but are not limited to- doctoral students’ dissertation research, master’s students’ thesis research, or capstone projects). This year we will fund 10 students for up to $3,000 and one team of students for up to $6,000. Team applicants must present a truly interdisciplinary research proposal. Students may not apply to both. For application requirements and materials please check our website

The deadline for submissions is February 4th, 2013.
Fellows will be announced in March 2013.

Questions may be directed to Alessandra Radicati at aradicati@ei.columbia.edu

Have You Visited AC4 Link?

AC4 Link is a new web-based information hub that highlights all people, centers, and programs conducting research, practice, and teaching activities related to conflict resolution, peace, violence prevention, and sustainable development related to these areas. If you are looking for a person, program, or center conducting specific work under these areas, this is a great place to start. If you are already active under one of these areas, check out your profile and learn about others across Columbia that share your interests. Please contact Nick Redding at nredding@ei.columbia.edu if you have any questions or would like to learn more.

Upcoming Events

10/9
The Israeli Collective Memory of the 1948 Palestinian Exodus (1949-2008)
4:00 pm to 6:00 pm
Columbia University, Teachers College

10/11
Book Talk: Making Peace Last, by Robert Ricigliano
6:00 pm to 7:30pm
Columbia University, Teachers College

10/23
Film Screening: Walking Merchandise: Child Smuggling and the Snakehead Trade
6:30 pm to 8:30 pm
Columbia University, Teachers College

11/7
Sustaining Peace: Interdisciplinary Perspectives
2:00 pm to 8:30 pm
Columbia University, Teachers College

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Sustaining Peace: Interdisciplinary Perspectives

You are cordially invited to Sustaining Peace: Interdisciplinary Perspectives hosted in collaboration with the Masters Program on Negotiation and Conflict Resolution and the International Center for Cooperation and Conflict Resolution on November 7th, 2012 at Teachers College. This event will address the emerging field of sustainable peace by identifying and sharing scholarship, educational tools and practical applications around the belief that preventing war and sustaining peace are related but not one in the same. Rather; peace can and should be studied as distinct from war, grounded in a mixed methodological, interdisciplinary and intercultural framework. Click the link to learn more!

Career Advice

Have Career Advice to Share?
AC4 is looking for faculty, staff and alums of Columbia’s conflict resolution and peace related programs to contribute career advice and give their unique perspectives on how to navigate the job market after graduation.  We are interested in hearing your personal story, lessons you learned from interviewing and job-seeking and insight into career you have currently.  We welcome a variety of voices and experiences, so please contact Christianna Gozzi (cgozzi@ei.columbia.edu) or Alessandra Radicati (aradicati@ei.columbia.edu) and you could be featured in the next AC4 monthly newsletter!
Advanced Consortium on Cooperation, Conflict, and Complexity (AC4)
475 Riverside Drive, Suite 253
New York, NY 10115
(212) 870-2771
ac4.ei.columbia.edu