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In this issue: Letter from AC4 Research Coordinator Alessandra, Interview with Connie Sun, AC4 Fellowship winners and more!
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Providing you with the latest news in conflict, violence prevention, peace and sustainability at Columbia University


A Note from Our Research Coordinator, Alessandra Radicati


Hello again readers, and thank you for tuning in to this edition of the
AC4 newsletter.


Last month, AC4 selected its new cohort of fellows for 2013.  Their projects cover a wide range of disciplinary approaches and geographic regions; we are delighted to work with them and welcome them to what we think of as our conflict resolution family.  You can read about all of their projects here.  Given last week’s terrible events in Boston, I feel that it is particularly appropriate to highlight our team grant winners, Jennifer Hull, Kaleigh Schwalbe and Saad Saad.  Together, this group of students from the program in Negotiation and Conflict Resolution will conduct fieldwork in New York and Detroit to explore the experiences of Arab and Muslim Americans following the backlash from 9/11 and the Boston marathon bombings.  It is a sad state of affairs that their team had to add a new incident to their study after turning in their application.  However, I am also grateful to know that thoughtful, sensitive analysis will be carried out this pressing topic, and I am confident that their research will be valuable for many of us here at Columbia and beyond.

The bombing of the Boston marathon was troubling on many levels.  Like most people I know, I spent the better part of the week reading all that I could about what was happening.  I am still shocked by the violence, and my heart goes out to all those who were injured or lost people they cared about on the day of the marathon.  For me, this incident illuminated the importance of the work we do in conflict resolution and violence prevention, but also highlighted the need for critical thinking and analysis at times like these.  The media frenzy around the bombings led to several incidents of misreporting and misidentification of “suspects” before security officials released photos and names of the alleged perpetrators.  This was a testament to the way that media today plays an enormous role in shaping our perception of conflicts, sometimes with highly negative consequences.

The work of conflict resolution practitioners of any kind rests not only on a thorough understanding of the stakeholders involved in various situations, but also on responsible, conscientious representation of those conflicts.  Measured and careful analyses of hot button issues may not always be popular, but it is entirely necessary if we want to transform the way that we deal with conflict.

Best Wishes,

Alessandra


Interview with Connie Sun, Assistant Director of the MS Program in Negotiation and Conflict Resolution, School of Continuing Education


Can you tell us a bit about your background – what brought you to NYC and how you ended up in your current position?
I grew up in a Taiwanese-American household in Southern California where I spent a lot of my upbringing trying to avoid conflict. The irony is not lost on me. I studied literature at UC Berkeley and taught English in Nanjing, China for two years before moving to NYC for graduate school. While at Teachers College, I studied International Educational Development and was also introduced to courses in conflict resolution. It was not my focus at the time, but I definitely saw connections and personal relevance. When the Negotiation and Conflict Resolution master's program launched, it seemed like a perfect opportunity to not only gain experience in program development and administration, but also to learn more about the field.

It’s no secret to those in the conflict resolution community here at Columbia that you have another hidden talent – you’re an avid cartoonist! How do you balance your different interests? Do you see a relationship between your cartooning and work in conflict resolution/higher education?
Thank you for asking! Balancing program management with cartooning is definitely challenging, but also very enriching. One of the lessons I've taken from my work in the program is the importance of self-awareness and reflection, which I've applied to my daily practice of drawing comic strips. This has led me to an unexpected path of artistic exploration. In the process of learning how to express myself with a combination of words and pictures, I am discovering a voice I didn't know I had. Cartooning is a form visual storytelling -  and there's a story behind every conflict. I don't have a clear destination here, but I'm enjoying the process.

I understand that your job involves working with a lot of students – what advice do you feel junior professionals in our field should hear as they move out of their academic programs and begin looking for meaningful work and engagement in the world of conflict resolution?
In emerging fields where there isn't a clear professional path, I think it's important to keep an open mind and an eye out for unexpected connections. I admire individuals who have taken unconventional routes toward pursuing what they care most about. I appreciate the effort it takes and I respect the journey. The skills that students of conflict resolution learn to develop and hone are applicable at any stage in the process.

Connie draws a daily web comic strip at conniewonnie.com, Monday through Friday. You can follow her on Twitter or Facebook.

Congratulations to our 2013 Graduate Student Fellows Cohort!

Each year, the Advanced Consortium on Cooperation, Conflict, and Complexity (AC4) awards 10 individual fellowships and one team fellowship to students conducting research on conflict resolution, violence prevention, sustainable development and peace.  2013 saw a record number of applications for both the team and individual grants, and we are pleased to announce our winners.  This year's cohort includes students from a diverse range of academic backgrounds, and showcases some of the wonderful work being done here at Columbia.  You can access fellows' project descriptions here.  Stay tuned to hear more about their exciting research!


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Upcoming Events


5/5
MS in Negotiation and Conflict Resolution Program Capstone Presentations
9am to 6pm
Columbia University, Uris Hall Room 142

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 and learn about others across Columbia that share your interests. Please contact Nick Redding at nredding@ei.columbia.edu if you have any questions or would like to learn more.

Career Advice

Have Career Advice to Share?
AC4 is looking for faculty, staff and alums of Columbia’s conflict resolution and peace related programs to contribute career advice and give their unique perspectives on how to navigate the job market after graduation.  We are interested in hearing your personal story, lessons you learned from interviewing and job-seeking and insight into career you have currently.  We welcome a variety of voices and experiences, so please contact Christianna Gozzi (cgozzi@ei.columbia.edu) or Alessandra Radicati (aradicati@ei.columbia.edu) and you could be featured in the next AC4 monthly newsletter!
Advanced Consortium on Cooperation, Conflict, and Complexity (AC4)
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ac4.ei.columbia.edu