This issue includes the latest news from the Advanced Consortium on Conflict, Cooperation and Complexity at Columbia University's Earth Institute, including: 
  • AC4 Graduate Fellowship 
  • Fun people and events
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Providing you with the latest news in conflict, violence prevention, peace and sustainability at Columbia University


Before we look ahead and beyond your last week of classes, we would like to take some time to share with you two things we are grateful for: opportunity and collaboration. We witness this daily with our students and faculty.

Take a moment to catch up on the inspiring work and projects that our team has been a part of.

Have a successful end to your semester, and a wonderful start to winter!

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2015 AC4 Student Fellowships

Each year, 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, masters students’ thesis research, and Capstone projects. 

For 2015, we will fund individual students up to $3,000 and one team of students with up to $6,000. Students may apply for one type of award: individual or team. For application materials and requirements, click here and check our website.

Deadline for submissions is Friday, February 13, 2015.
Fellows will be announced in March 2015.

Questions may be directed to Meredith Smith at

Interview with Diana Rodriguez-Gomez, AC4 Fellow, 2014 Cohort

Diana Rodriguez-Gomez comes from the Department of Comparative Education at Teachers College. She is currently pursuing an Ed.D. in International Educational Development with an emphasis on Peace Education and Human Rights.

How did you get interested in the field of comparative education?

I am really interested in the connections between violence and education. This interest led me to do my M.A. in International Education and Development. When I finished my M.A. I looked for doctorate programs to further research this connection. What I found was Peace Education at Teachers College. It was the only program I found that allowed me to tackle education, armed conflict and the role of education to address violence.

What motivated you to apply for the AC4 Graduate Fellowship, and how did you hear about it?

When I first arrived to TC, I looked into all the institutions around Columbia and signed up for all the listserves of which AC4 was one. I had heard from other PhD students how they applied for this grant and I thought it was exciting to be part of a community where members are all interested in violence and war.

For my project, I conducted visual ethnography. To do this, I had to get cameras and develop the film - it was expensive! The funding really helped.

What is visual ethnography? Why did you choose this research method?

So, here’s the challenge: how do you understand the connection between armed conflict, violence, and education in a context where people are afraid to talk about war? I was very interested in how the political violence of the armed conflict was permeating daily life in a chosen school community. Photographs gave me this chance.

Photographs give you the great opportunity to go beyond an interview; in an interview one has power. When you have photographs, you give the “subject” or the other person the chance to make a selection. I was able to gain understanding: there’s all this political violence happening here but life goes on.

The children I worked with had the camera and they decided what to take. After I developed the films, I gave them the photos in a sealed envelope, so each had the chance to remove any photo they did not want to share. Then, with their selected photos, they decided what they wanted to say. This gave the photographer power to have more control and authority about their own interpretations.


Read the full interview and learn more about visual ethnography and Diana Rodriguez-Gomez here.

      Interview with renowned disaster risk and climate expert, Klaus Jacob

How do you view conflict in your work?

As I come from natural disaster risk management, conflict is a boundary condition that is absolutely essential to be taken into account. For me, when disasters occur, they contribute to the often extraordinary vulnerability of populations that are already under stress. One characteristic of vulnerability to natural disasters is poverty. There is such clear correlation that you cannot ignore it; it is absolutely essential. Often disasters amplify and bring forward pre-existing stresses that are just amplified and multiplied.

Conflicts simply provide vulnerability that in the presence of external forces, such as a hurricane, a flood, or a drought, creates more havoc than they would without the conflict pre-existing to the disaster.

Conflicts are always complex but when they coincide with a natural extreme event then they become true disasters. An extreme event does not have to be a disaster; they can just stay extreme events but how they affect a society depends on whether there are already pre-existing conflicts.

Read more about disaster risk management and rebuilding in the full interview with Klaus Jacob, Ph.D. by clicking here.

The AC4 Monthly Newsletter and interviews are organized by Research Coordinator, Meredith Smith. Please direct any comments, inquiries, and/or suggestions to:

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AC4 Link

AC4 Link is a 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 throughout Columbia University and beyond. If you are looking for a person, program, or center conducting specific work under these areas, this is a great place to start.

Contact: Nick Redding

Congrats to Fall 2014 Graduates of the M.S. Program in Negotiation and Conflict Resolution!

The Masters of Science program in Negotiation and Conflict Resolution at Columbia's School of Continuing Education will hold its Capstone Thesis Presentations this Saturday, December 6th. Join us for a showcase of graduate applied research in the field of conflict resolution. This year’s session explores conflicts from interpersonal, organizational and global perspectives.


Film Screening of the award-winning Beats of the Antonov
Tuesday, 6:30-8:30PM 
Location: Milbank Chapel, Teachers College


Join us for a private screening of Beats of Antonov and a Q&A will the filmmakers. The documentary takes place in Sudan, focusing on the war in the Blue Nile and Nuba Mountain regions and the role of music in helping to sustain communities affected by the violence. Space is limited - please RSVP!
Advanced Consortium on Cooperation, Conflict, and Complexity (AC4)
475 Riverside Drive, Suite 253
New York, NY 10115
(212) 870-2771