A Note from Our Research Coordinator, Alessandra Radicati
Hello again readers, and thank you for tuning in to this edition of the
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.