This issue includes the latest news from AC4 and the Columbia conflict community, including a new funding opportunity; an inspiring interview with Saad Ali Saad; and more!
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Advanced Consortium on Cooperation, Conflict, and Complexity (AC4) - Earth Institute, Columbia University
May 7, 2015

First of all, congratulations to 2015 Graduates! 

In this issue of the ACnewsletter we’re going to highlight a great funding opportunity for graduate students and alumni, and give you an update on a former Columbia conflict resolution (NECR) student who followed his dream of building strategies for peace in the Middle East. 

This summer, we are looking forward to attending the annual International Association of Conflict Management (IACM) conference from June 28 to July 1.  The AC4 team, along with our colleagues from NECR, will travel to Clearwater, Florida, to present our own research and connect with scholars and practitioners from around the world.  We are especially excited to meet the winners of AC4's IACM scholarship, students from around the world who will be sharing their original research with the wider conflict resolution community.  

Thank you for joining us again for our AC4 Newsletter.  This is going to be our last edition for a while as we plan to take a brief summer hiatus for June and July.  We wish you all a fun, relaxing summer and our special thoughts go out to those of you who are new graduates – we hope our newsletter has been helpful in giving insight and advice about the field of conflict resolution, and we are eager to hear from you as you move on to new adventures!

Best wishes, and see you in August!

New Funding Opportunity: 

2015 CMM Learning Exchange

Call for applications! The Coordinated Management of Meaning (CMM) is co-producing this year's Learning Exchange with the Institute for Global Integral Competence and with Fielding Graduate University's EU Cluster. This is a great opportunity to present on and engage in current research and practice - opportunity for current graduate students or alumni of conflict resolution or peace-building programs from Columbia University or other universities around the globe. 
2015 CMM Learning Exchange
September 17-20, 2015
Munich, Germany

Application Deadline: June 6, 2015

Click here for application details and more information on the AC4 Scholarship for 2015 CMM Learning Exchange!

Interview with conflict resolution specialist, Saad Ali Saad

Saad Ali Saad, M.S., is an interim coordinator at AC4, an alumni of both Columbia’s Negotiation and Conflict Resolution Program and the AC4 Graduate Fellowship Program, 2013 Cohort 


What life experiences or motivations led you into the field of conflict resolution?
I was born and lived in a conflict region for almost my entire life. I lived in southern Lebanon for 11 years. A proxy of the Israeli army, known as the South Lebanese Army, controlled this area. My family had to move because of the conflict that was happening. At one point, my father got word that my brother was supposed to get recruited into the South Lebanese Army, so we decided that it was time to move; we emigrated from Lebanon to the U.S. In this sense, conflict has been a part of all my life, shaping who I am. 

After I moved to the States, I was interested in trying to make sense of what happened and why we moved. I began to study Political Science in Middle Eastern Affairs at the University of Michigan. I became more and more interested in history, the Middle East, and conflict. With my life experience and academic experience from undergrad, I ended up here at Columbia studying conflict resolution.

Has your studies and work in conflict resolution changed your understanding of the conflict in Lebanon?
Absolutely! My understanding continues to evolve based on the projects I am involved in or, more recently, based on getting time to reflect on everything I’ve learned from the classroom and experiences I had as a student. Also, going back to the region and meeting people from Lebanon, seeing how they speak about current events or how they deal with these dynamics continues to inform me. Most recently, it has been meeting people who've emigrated from Syria, and learning about their experiences in that conflict. These experiences gives me a more nuanced and solid understanding of how people view conflicts, and then what my role can be as a practitioner.

What is the focus of your work with the Arabic Handbook on Conflict Resolution, a current AC4 initiative? 
Basically, the aim of the handbook is to make a resource on conflict resolution available in Arabic, because there's a huge demand and a need for it. Additionally, we're trying to organize around this concept of conflict resolution in the Arab world, both here in the states and in the region. We view this as an opportunity to grow and strengthen the field. For the last few months we have been connecting with people who've been requesting the handbook, learning more about what they do and exploring opportunities of collaboration. We are seeking funding now to continue this work in the region. 

Do you think there are significant differences between how people approach the study of conflict in the MENA region versus the west, like in the United States?
Utilizing culture as a framework for understanding conflict is crucial. The way people understand the conflict affects how they deal with it. Understanding culture is first and foremost; then, in turn, trying to make sense of what that conflict is, and why people react and respond the way they do. 

For example, in the case of Lebanon, you not only have to understand the culture of how people interact there, but also, how the culture is influenced by the history. In Lebanon there's a history of colonialism, and there's a history of imperialism, and that's impacted how people deal with the conflict and why people are reacting the way they are. The synthesis and interplay between culture and history, even history as far back as 100 and 150 years, is a crucial aspect to understanding and being able to contribute constructively. 

Additionally, I think globally we need to expand our traditional views on what conflict resolution means and what that process looks like. Often, we think of conflict resolution strictly as a  negotiation or mediation. In the region, there's a lot going on that's related to resolving conflicts, yet they may not be defined or labeled that way.  There are a good deal of development initiatives (programs for literacy, gender issues, etc.) related to addressing issues of conflict, but they are not directly conflict resolution processes, per se.

Want to learn more? Here’s a book suggestion from Saad:  "Arab Approaches to Conflict Resolution.”

More Ways to Stay Connected

Want to keep up with AC4 activities? Check our website! It’s another way to get updates on our students, faculty, events, AC4 interviews, and new classes. Missed an issue of the AC4 Newsletter? Read previous issues on our website
The AC4 Monthly Newsletter and interviews are organized by Research Coordinator, Meredith Smith. Please direct any comments, inquiries, and/or suggestions to:

Welcoming the 2015 IACM Scholarship Recipients!

Read about the exciting interdisciplinary research that this year's graduate students from developing countries and historically underrepresented groups will be presenting at the International Association for Conflict Management (IACM) conference in July 2015: here on our website.

4 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.

Nick Redding,
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Advanced Consortium on Cooperation, Conflict, and Complexity (AC4)
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