This issue includes the latest news from AC4 and the Columbia conflict community, including summer highlights, videos from Sustaining Peace, news on our Oct. 1st event, and much more!
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Advanced Consortium on Cooperation, Conflict, and Complexity (AC4) - Earth Institute, Columbia University
September 10, 2015

Happy first days of classes!

We’re wrapping up summer but not before we share some highlights, including a few pictures from the the IACM conference and a colleague's experience on a study-tour in Jordan and Israel that was taught by Columbia's Bridget Reagan and advised by AC4 Director, Josh Fisher.  What else has AC4 staff been up to? Read on to learn about some of their on-screen and off-screen professional work!

Snapshot from the ACFellows at IACM

Graduate students of conflict resolution from universities around the world presented on their research at the International Agency for Conflict Management (IACM) Conference in Florida during late June. They wrapped up the conference with a final awards ceremony at the dinner along with all conference attendees. Here are a few pics from the event, and you can read more about the event, including written reflections from the fellows, on our webpage: here.


Are you ready for next summer? IACM 2016 is being co-hosted by AC4 at Columbia University in New York City and you are invited to submit your work and attend the 29th International Agency for Conflict Management (IACM) Conference!
Special themes for 2016: Complex Systems & Sustainable Peace, Discourse & Interaction, and Urban Violence. 


Exploring Sustainability at Earth Institute and in the Middle East

Earth Institute's Associate Director of Education Natalie Unwin-Kuruneri spent time this summer in Jordan and Israel for the Environmental Sustainability Study Tour Program. Here she shares her experiences with us and perspective on the educational scope at Earth Institute.



Please tell us how you got involved at the Earth Institute?

My introduction to the Earth Institute came from being at SIPA in the Masters in Public Administration program. We read much of Jeffrey Sach’s (Director of Earth Institute) work in the classes on international development, so I became familiar with him and the Institute. After graduation, I was able to get involved with the Earth Institute’s newly launched undergrad-brochureundergraduate major in Sustainable Development- it was one of the first of its kind in the country at that time. We had one graduate the first year in 2010, and since then it has grown exponentially to have about 150 current students.

The Earth Institute is a great place to be because the work is constantly evolving! There are always new education programs being developed and different opportunities to explore. It is an exciting place to be, and my role here has expanded a lot over the past five years.

This summer you coordinated the Environmental Sustainability Study Tour Program in Jordan and Israel. What was your approach in creating this program?

The focus of the program was on cross-border collaboration on environmental issues in the Middle East. It was developed in partnership with the Porter School of Environmental Studies at Tel Aviv University, which is very similar to the Earth Institute in its focus on environmental and sustainable development education. The Earth Institute and Porter had wanted to do some sort of collaboration for years, and in 2013 I was tasked with making it happen for the first time.

In 2015 we ran the program for a second time, thanks to help from the Provost. I worked really closely with colleagues at the Global Center in Amman and at the Porter School in Tel Aviv, as well as faculty here at Columbia, to craft the program. It was truly a joint effort, and we brought in local collaborators to put together the academic content and itinerary in each country.


The program took students from Columbia and Tel Aviv University to Jordan, Israel, and the Palestinian Authority to see how they are cooperating on environmental issues and managing shared natural resources. We spent 2 weeks in the field visiting different sites like the Jordan River, the Dead Sea, and the Hebron River, and learned how those resources are being exploited, polluted and depleted. The Jordan River, for example, is a site of ecological and historical importance. It is incredibly polluted and drying up because its natural sources have been diverted for drinking water, agricultural purposes, and sometimes for political reasons. This is contributing to the shrinking of the Dead Sea.

These are real issues that are impacting ecosystems and communities in the region. The program explored how these shared issues could be used as an opportunity to bring people together to talk, and potentially come to peaceful solutions on broader conflict issues.

What is it that sustainability means at the Earth Institute?

I think sustainability is a term people use frequently, but with different meanings. It is important to consider the context. I always look at how we define it in our public facing spheres. A lot of times now, like in our sustainability management program, when we're talking about sustainability, we often talk about it in a business focused manner. It means incorporating issues of water and energy use, waste management, environmental risk, etc. into an organization’s functioning, so that it can meet business objectives without negatively impacting the environment, and without being negatively impacted by climate change related challenges.

In a nutshell, more broadly, I’d say it is economic, social and political development for humans—especially for the poorest people— that does not negatively impact the environment and natural resources for the future.

How does this play into Earth Institute’s education opportunities?

The Earth Institute takes the research being done at Lamont-Doherty and across the different centers and connects it to the education programs. You'll find a lot of Lamont researchers actually teaching in the programs, which is important because they're the people doing the research. They understand it, and are the best people to teach it. All our programs are very holistic. Students come away with an approach to sustainability that's not just about the research and the science—they also understand management, policy, economics and operations.

Read the full interview to hear career advice and other news on educational opportunities at Earth Institute. 


On Thursday, October 1 at 6pm in Teachers College AC4 presents Perspectives on Peace. This event aims to bring together the Columbia University conflict resolution community, including various centers, faculty, alumni and students. Join us at 6:00pm for an information session, then a screening of Trials of Spring (a film on women peacemakers in the Arab Spring), followed by a Q&A with the filmmakers and a closing reception with free wine and bites. Contact Azin Aliabadi at to get involved or for further details.

To register and learn more about the event:      


Space is limited in the screening! Free tickets are available- please register here.

Stay Connected

Want to keep up with AC4 Projects? Subscribe to the AC4 Mailing List! It's another way to get updates on events, our staff and opportunities to get involved. Missed an issue of the AC4 Newsletter? Read previous issues on our website! Have questions or suggestions? Contact us!
Photo taken by '15 Fellow Alexandra Da Dalt in Timor-Leste

Read Fellows' Reflections
Some of the 2015 Graduate Fellows are just returning from fieldwork in Timor-Leste, India, Mexico, Nicaragua, Spain, and Brazil, a couple have just finished internships at UNICEF in Jordan and a couple have just finished internships at UNICEF in Jordan and the International Center for Transitional Justice here in NYC, and one is now preparing for upcoming fieldwork in Pakistan. You can read some notes and reflections on their projects on our website: here
In this episode, Dr. Peter Coleman talks with Meredith Smith of AC4 about the origins and current initiatives in Dynamical Systems Theory, a mathematical approach to peace building and addressing conflict.
"Conversations from the Leading Edge" is an AC4 and WKCR-studios show that explores innovative research and work in peace, conflict and sustainability with students, faculty and staff from around campus.
Learn more about the show and visit the archives.
Videos Now Available!

Shift your thinking about conflict and complexity
Videos of the nine speakers from our Sustaining Peace event last spring are now live. This series of 10-minute talks offers insights to shift how we think about engaging with complex social systems in order to help us foster more desirable dynamics, and move our systems toward a more sustainable peace. Speakers include an environmental scientist, a mathematician, an anthropologist and leading scholars and practitioners in the field of international conflict resolution.

Start making conflict work for you!

This app developed from Making Conflict Work (2014), a book written by Peter T. Coleman and Robert Ferguson to help users navigate their workplace and interpersonal conflicts is now available on your mobile device. The Making Conflict Work app uses the teachings of Making Conflict Work to help you analyze your role in any conflict and help you choose the best path forward.

Download the app now from iTunes for $0.99.
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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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