This issue includes the latest news from AC4 and the Columbia conflict community, featuring Sustaining Peace, our yearly landmark event! 
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Advanced Consortium on Cooperation, Conflict, and Complexity (AC4) - Earth Institute, Columbia University

March 5, 2015

How did an AC4 talk on Taking Peace Seriously lead to an annual full-day conference at Teachers College? What is sustaining peace through a systems lens all about? And where does conservation fit in? Keep reading to learn more about this and other news from your conflict connection at Columbia - AC4

Sustaining Peace


Perhaps increasing complexity does not mean increasing conflict. This year, we are excited to explore applications of complex systems, concepts and interventions in work to achieve sustainable peace locally and globally. We are bringing together experts from Columbia University and within New York City at large, as well as a number of diverse scholars and practitioners who employ complexity science and dynamical systems theory principles in their work to foster peaceful and sustainable social change.

Since 2012, we have brought together the Columbia University, NYC, and broader conflict and peace communities in order to expand awareness of these growing fields and as well as Columbia's unique contribution to furthering this work. This conference serves as our yearly landmark event, capturing AC4's core foci of peace, conflict, complexity and sustainable development. 

In 2012, AC4’s Dr. Peter Coleman delivered the keynote for our inaugural Sustaining Peace. The title of his talk was "What if we took peace seriously" – serving as a call to the scholar/practitioner community to stop focusing only on resolving conflict and instead focus on what is required to cultivate a lasting and sustained peace. Today, we are thrilled to share with you the many scholars and practitioners we have found since that call who are taking peace seriously.


For 2015, we are taking the idea of a keynote to the next level, by hosting 10 keynote speakers! Modeled after other popular talk platforms, this year we have invited 10 of the most innovative and creative sustainable peace practitioners to spend 10 minutes sharing an essential innovation or insight they have gained in their work. Dr. Coleman will kick off the series by highlighting what he has learned about complexity, intractable conflict and social change, which will then be followed by 9 equally compelling talks. After the keynotes, be sure to join us at the reception to meet the speakers!
The kick-off to our event is at 11am with an Information and Poster Session that showcases the AC4 Graduate Fellows' projects. This features independent research and practice-based projects of our 2014 fellows. This is also an opportunity to meet and learn more about various departments and centers working in the area of peace, conflict and sustainability at Columbia University.

In the afternoon, we are hosting nine workshops, including a panel discussion from alumni of ACand some of the Masters in Negotiation and Conflict Resolution program. Full descriptions and presenter information can be found here

Check out the event webpage for more information and, because space is limited, be sure to register


Where does it fit into Sustaining Peace? 

Conservationists across the world are beginning to recognize the importance of conflict mitigation between humans and wildlife for effective ecosystem management. Holistic, socio-ecological system approaches that address multiple layers of conflict enhance our ability to foster coexistence between wildlife and local human communities. This relatively new approach to conserving wildlife, as opposed to staunchly separating the environment from humans, has proven to be successful when effectively combined with political and development goals. 

This is an excerpt from the description on the Conservation and Peacebuilding Workshop  that will be co-presented by two 2014 ACFellows, Cynthia Malone and Kaggie Orrick.  Kaggie was interviewed in our most recent AC4 Interview Series; she comes from the Department of Ecology, Evolution and Environmental Biology at the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. She is pursuing a M.S. with an emphasis on conservation biology. Here's more from Kaggie: 

How did you get interested in the field of conservation? What led you to undertake graduate study of it?

I’ve always been interested in the environment and loved the outdoors. As a kid I used to create little ecosystems in my pocket; I’d gather dirt and crickets and stuff – I was a weird kid! In high school I got to participate in outdoor education activities, including school trips with conservation work, backpacking and hiking.

[...] before coming to Columbia, I lived and worked on a game reserve in South Africa doing large carnivore research for three years. That pushed me into everything that I am doing now. I had focused on Africa in college, going to Namibia for a study abroad my junior year and working with Save the Rhino Trust. I had loved being in Africa and doing different fieldwork, like tracking black rhino in the Namib Desert! So, working with Global Vision International (GVI) was perfect – it was the door that opened up so many other opportunities.

But, after working at GVI for three years, I realized we were conducting a lot of research and had collected a lot of data for different universities across the globe, but as staff we weren’t actually analyzing it. I wanted to come back to school and be able to analyze the data I had collected and do some of my own research. The resources and the tools here at Columbia have been incredibly useful!

What advice or general pointers do you have for graduate students hoping to do original research?

Find something you are passionate about! I know it sounds cliché but it really does make all the difference. I have seen people or heard from people who did graduate programs and they’ve chosen a thesis based on what they’ve heard from others or something others told them they should do, and they get burned out.

If you find something you are genuinely interested in that you would research or look into whether you had the funds or were getting a degree for it or not, then everything kind of falls in place. Your enthusiasm or love for it comes out! Don’t choose something because you think it might be interesting to other people or because other people told you to do it, because that’s not going to fly, ultimately. That will make it all the harder and you’re going to get bored with it because it’s not fueled by your passion and your interests.

Visit the recent post to read the full interview.

Also, to learn more about the innovative, interdisciplinary research and practice-based projects of 2014 Cohort of AC
4 Fellows, come to the Poster Session at 11am on March 26th!


Friday, March 6th
9:00am - 2:00pm
Everett Lounge,
Teachers College

This seminar is a great opportunity to learn more about the multiple facets of sustainable human development. Exciting talks all day long, with a keynote address by former President of the Basque Government, Dr. Juan Jose Ibarretxe.


Space is limited, 
register now!
Join us on March 26! 
11:00a – 1:00p: 
4 Fellows' Poster Session and Centers Info Fair

1:00 – 5:10p: 
Interactive Workshops

2:30 – 3:40p: Alumni 
Panel Discussion

6:00 – 7:45p: Evening
Keynotes from Leading
Scholars & Practitioners

Check out event website 
for details – and
be sure to register!

Call for Volunteers!
Opportunity to assist Sustaining Peace Team and support a smoothly run program throughout the day at Teachers College on March 26th. This is a 2.5 hour per shift commitment, and we have four shifts throughout the day. Some Spanish speaking volunteers will be needed.
If interested, contact:
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, or let us know if we should add you, and learn about others across Columbia that share your interests.

Please contact Nick Redding at if you have any questions or would like to learn more.

More on Peace and Conflict at Columbia
Interested to learn more about leading scholar-practitioners dedicated to advancing the study of peace and conflict at Columbia University and around the globe? Give a listen to the most recent podcast from our radio show on Columbia's WKCR -- Conversations from the Leading Edge

In this episode, we explore the topics of agriculture and conflict. AC4 director, Josh Fisher, talks with Glenn Denning, director of both the MPA in Development Practice Program at SIPA and the Center on Globalization and Sustainable Development at the Earth Institute. (Listen on SoundCloud
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Advanced Consortium on Cooperation, Conflict, and Complexity (AC4)
475 Riverside Drive, Suite 253
New York, NY 10115
(212) 870-2771

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