This issue includes the latest news from AC4 and the Columbia conflict community.
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Advanced Consortium on Cooperation, Conflict, and Complexity (AC4) - Earth Institute, Columbia University
May 5, 2016
All the hustle and bustle around campus these days tells us it's that time of year again- the end of the academic year is upon us. Congrats to the 2016 grads, and the next cohort of peace, conflict and sustainability scholars!


AC4 team and faculty are continuing work on projects and presentations, in and outside of classrooms, in New York City and at international locations, with many plans for summer already made. We are looking forward to co-hosting the annual International Association of Conflict Management (IACM) conference right here on campus in June. The IACM conference gives us opportunity to connect with scholars and practitioners from the wider conflict resolution community, and to meet the winners of AC4's IACM fellowship, students from around the world who will be sharing their original research.

Thank you for joining us again for our AC4 Newsletter. We wish you all a fun and productive summer, and our special thoughts go out to those of you who are new graduates – we hope our newsletter has been helpful in giving opportunities in and insight about the field of conflict resolution, and we are eager to hear from you as you move on to new adventures!

Until the fall, best wishes!

Interview with Isaac Scott, Resident Artist and Justice in Education Scholar at Columbia University's Center for Justice

Isaac Scott is an artist and scholar at Columbia's Center for Justice. He is Co-Founder of Opportunities and Change, which facilitates solution-driven projects, such as The Confined Arts, Love Thyself First and T.e.a.m. Arts. Isaac is Director of The Confined Arts Program as well as a lead research assistant in Columbia's Social Relations Lab. 

Tell me how The Confined Arts works. 

As it stands today, The Confined Arts is a platform for currently and formerly incarcerated artists to show their work. The platform is also open to those artists who work in and around the prison system who may not have been in prison themselves but are activists who are dedicated to the end of this crisis. Also, and perhaps more importantly, it is a platform for those artists who have been directly impacted by mass incarceration, perhaps with a family member who was/is incarcerated.

Before I came to Columbia, this project was simply random exhibitions. It was exhibitions with collections of art shown from different artists, others and myself. But, when I got here, under the leadership of Professor Geraldine Downey and some of the other people I work with at the Center for Justice, I’ve learned about how this should be a program and how I can develop it more. So, today, that’s where I am going and how I got our goals into place.

So, first, we provide opportunities for artists coming home from prison and also for those artists who are still in prison now – opportunities to cultivate their skills or learn creative form of expression that can be beneficial to them in there and outside.

Second, one of the main things we want to do through our art is to change the narrative and tell the correct story. You don’t know as much about prison as you think you do. Plus, what you heard, at least for most people, is probably from someone who has not been in prison themselves. The story is never told correctly. Through the arts, we want to give artists the opportunity to tell their own story.

For example, I’m an artist and when I came home, I knew it would be hard to get into galleries and make it as an artist. Yet, I was able to use my art to impact lives and provide opportunities for myself. While I may not make a lot of money for the paintings I actually do, I’ve found ways to do meaningful work around my paintings, such as taking a painting and doing a workshop around its visual connotations – I would get paid for that. I hope to train other artists on how to use their work in a similar fashion. That’s what I mean: teaching about how to use your craft as an entrepreneur to make ends meet. For the people I’m working with, we know that art is their passion and we understand it’s worth all the time we put into working with them on this.

What does it mean to be a “solution driven project”?

There are a number of things we want to do with the arts but in terms of core goals what we want to do as a program is to address first the inhumane narrative that is commonly associated with people with a criminal history. Secondly, there is a lack of opportunities for incarcerated people in certain fields, particularly for men and women who are not looking at their craft/art as valuable enough to provide them a job in that area.

We work to change the narrative by providing a stream of education to the public via exhibitions, discussions and events. 

You may have friends who have no connection to prison; the stories they hear are different than the stories someone would hear from someone who has family or friends who have been in prison. That means a lot because when you two go into the voters’ booth because the story you’ve heard makes a difference in whether you choose this candidate who is for reform of the criminal justice system or that one who is not.

The other thing we provide is entrepreneurial opportunities for people to develop their craft. This means overcoming the problems that people coming home may face in seeing opportunities in their craft. You have to see your craft as valuable enough to get a job in that area, which is particularly hard for those who have been in prison say for 20-30 years and art is what they’ve been practicing for decades and then they have to find their way going outside to the world and back home.

Next I think is to create awareness on the policy level with the art – AKA legislative art. This means artists actually making art and taking it to doorsteps of legislators. I want us to utilize our crafts as a way to creatively get a message across to people, using it creatively and directly in the policy world. The idea here still has to be developed.

Isaac Scott along with Center for Justice has an event taking place near campus next Saturday, A Woman's Celebration - see sidebar for details. Read the full interview with Isaac Scott, and hear the story about his work as well as other ongoing efforts taking place at Columbia to humanize the mass incarceration system in America and integrate men and women who have been affected by it: 

Conversations from the Leading Edge, featuring Ms. Leymah Gbowee, keynote address from this year's Sustaining Peace Conference

In this episode, we feature powerful remarks given by Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Ms. Leymah Gbowee, at this year's Sustaining Peace Conference at Columbia University. For this show, we include the first part of Gbowee's keynote address on the theme of Women, Peace and Security. Full video of the keynote as well as the following panel discussion with Ms. Sarah Knuckey, Dr. Natasha Anandaraja and moderator Beth Fisher-Yoshida can be found on AC4 Sustaining Peace Webpage.

Congrats to NECR!

AC4 extends its congratulations and best wishes to graduates of the NECR Program! We hope the useful skills and knowledge you have gained in your program will be an asset to you in their future endeavors, and we look forward to learning about your contributions in the years ahead. 

You can read more about the program

More Ways to Stay Connected

Want to keep up with AC4 activities? Check our website! It’s another way to get updates on our current initiatives and events, as well as selected work and events by students, professors, faculty and other centers around campus in the field of conflict resolution. Also, missed an issue of the AC4 Newsletter? Read previous issues on our website: here
Reporting to the Executive Director of AC4, Dr. Peter T. Coleman, the incumbent performs and oversees a wide variety of executive administrative duties in support of AC4 Executive Director. For details and job listing: click here.

MD-ICCCR War and Peace Exhibit: Ben Taub “My Son the Terrorist”

Come to the hallway outside 232 Horace Mann Hall to see these truly moving images!

The Morton Deutsch International Center for Cooperation and Conflict Resolution (MD-ICCR) is proud to partner with Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism to present My Son the Terrorist, by Ben Taub, the first of many shows that will be part of the War and Peace Exhibit.

2nd Annual Conference: Global Perspectives on Economic Strengthening and Adolescent Health and Education in Sub-Saharan Africa

Thurs., May 12, 8:30am - 5:30pm

Columbia University Morningside Campus, Columbia School of Social Work

International Seminar on "Indigenous Peoples' Rights and Unreported Struggles: Conflict and Peace"

Sat, May 14, 8:30am -
Sun, May 15, 5:00pm

14 May: Heyman Center Common Room; 15 May: Jerome Greene Annex

A Woman’s Celebration

Sat., May 14, 3:00-7:00pm

The Poet’s Den
309 E 108th St,
New York, NY 10029

Check out the Science-Practice Blog Series, from our colleagues at MD-ICCCR!

Keeping Journalists Safe in Conflict Zones

"Journalists working in conflict zones have been the targets of unprecedented violence in recent years." Says Lily Hindi, deputy director of RISC (Reporters Instructed in Saving Colleagues, Inc), a nonprofit organization founded by journalist Sebastian Junger that provides emergency medical training and equipment to freelance journalists working in conflict zones. How do journalists stay safe in conflict zones, and what is being done to support their security? Read the full blog post (hereto learn more!

This blog is one in a series on the "Science-Practice Gap", featuring the voice of a practitioner in a practice-focused field. Check out the Science and Practice blog series, coming from Morton-Deutsch International Center for Cooperation and Conflict-Resolution: here.

Great opportunity for doctoral candidates whose work addresses peace and conflict, particularly those in Political Science, Development Economics, Development Studies, Anthropology, Geography, or a related social science discipline.

Snapshot from the Soundtrack of War Event

In partnership with Service Together of Intersections International, the MD-ICCCR of Teachers College hosted a memorable evening last week with music, commentary and community. The Soundtrack of War event brought together musicians, veterans, students and scholars of conflict resolution, exploring the relationship between music and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Learn more about the event here.
The AC4 Monthly Newsletter and interviews are organized by Project Coordinator, Meredith Smith. Please direct any comments, inquiries, and/or suggestions to:
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