Greetings; Interview with Photovoice specialist Daniel Jack Lyons; Sustaining Peace conference; AC4 Graduate Student Fellowships and more!
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Providing you with the latest news in conflict, violence prevention, peace and sustainability at Columbia University

Greetings from AC4 Research Coordinator, Nathanael Andreini

Dear Readers,

Thank you for tuning in to the AC4 Monthly Newsletter. With the hot and humid days behind us, we would like to take this opportunity to reflect on our productive summer.

First, we had the pleasure of accompanying the 2013 AC4 Scholarship Recipients to the annual International Association for Conflict Management (IACM) conference in Tacoma, Washington in June. Along with the Scholarship Recipients, several AC4 staff members participated in the conference--Nicholas Redding, Kyong Mazzaro and Christianna Gozzi spoke about the challenges and opportunities of balancing micro and macro approaches to research during a roundtable discussion; our Post-Doctoral Fellow, Joshua Fisher, presented his research on the ecological correlates of armed conflict; and  AC4 Co-Director, Beth Fisher-Yoshida, presented her research: “Making better social worlds: Interrupting patterns of destructive conflict".

From July 8-12, the Dynamical Systems (DST)  Innovation Lab was convened in Sheboygan, Wisconsin to employ new insights and methods from complexity science, dynamical systems and network theory to study and address violence, conflict and sustainable peace. The Lab provided an environment to share leading edge ideas, methods, and practices across a diverse group of 32 scholars and practitioners to inspire and support work in this area. A key element of the Lab included collaboration with Sheboygan community leaders to consider issues of local concern such as homelessness, changing community populations, and economic development.

In other news, Peter T. Coleman, and Joshua Fisher launched a new research agenda that will draw on the expertise and resources of the Earth Institute faculty, centers and institutes to build a unified theory of Sustainable Human Development (SHD), inclusive of its most fundamental human, societal, and environmental dynamics. The initiative will incorporate theory development with case study analysis and empirical research to test and refine the parameters of SHD, and thereby build knowledge on the essential elements of sustainability.

AC4 and the International Center for Cooperation and Conflict Resolution (ICCCR) have been working on a series of initiatives organized around the idea of Problem-solving in The Arab World. Under the broad umbrella of constructive engagement, the objectives of this project are to publish and distribute scientific, evidence-based resources on sustainable peace in Arabic and English; to create joint educational offerings and opportunities to share knowledge gained through decades of research and practice; and to support research collaboration opportunities under the leadership of an international Strategic Council on Constructive Engagement lead by both English and Arabic-speaking eminent scholar-practitioners in the field.

We hope you continue to visit the AC4 website and contribute to our growing community. There are many events and ways to engage and we welcome your participation. Come join us and Register now for the second annual Sustainable Peace conference on October 24!

Best wishes,
Nathanael Andreini

Interview with Daniel Jack Lyons, International Health and Human Rights Researcher specializing in Photovoice methodology

Tell us how photovoice works.

Photovoice is a process by which people can identify, represent and enhance their community through a specific technique of photography and storytelling.  It entrusts cameras into the hands of people to enable them to act as recorders, and potential catalysts for social action and change in their own communities.  Consistent with Community Based Participatory Research (CBPR) goals, photovoice uses the immediacy of the visual image and accompanying stories to furnish evidence and promote an effective means of sharing expertise and life experience.  

It is a method that specializes in building skills within disadvantaged and marginalized communities using innovative participatory photography and storytelling methods so that they have the necessary capacity to create tools for advocacy and communications in order to achieve positive social change. Photovoice is particularly well suited for hard-to-reach populations such as war-affected adolescent girls, victims of trafficking, and survivors of gender based violence by giving a voice to communities who have historically been silenced.    

The participatory photography process centers around taking photographs, but also incorporates a broad range of elements beyond simply taking a picture. It involves learning to express opinions, to interpret and discuss images, to work as part of a group, to listen to others, to develop ideas and a voice, to edit and caption images, to identify and define audience and messages – deciding what pictures to take and for whom. All these elements are an equally important part of the process in the route to self-expression and advocacy.

How did you become interested in using photovoice as a research method?

I discovered photovoice while working on my MPH at Columbia University.  I have always straddled two worlds between art and photography and the social sciences --so the method was a good fit for me.  When I started undergrad, I began on an art scholarship, but as my artwork became more political---as I focused more time on the written statement than I did on the art itself---it seemed logical to switch my major to social and behavioral sciences. I always tried to include a creative component to anything I was researching or writing on, but in the research world that can be a difficult thing to do. When I conducted my first photovoice research project with Dominican immigrant MSM in Washington Heights in upper Manhattan, the method really resonated with me.  Not only because of the creative component involved with taking and describing photographs, but also because it established an intimate connection between researcher and participants that I hadn't yet experienced using more traditional methods.  

What are some of your biggest influences, intellectually and professionally?

My influences range quite a bit...  Well, certainly Paul Farmer for innovation, particularly in working at a community level. But also Levi Strauss and Michel Foucault have have been huge theoretical influences for me.  But then so has James Baldwin and Michael Warner.  And if I'm really honest, photographers like Irving Penn and Richard Avedon are also an influence to my work in research. 

What projects or research are you working on now?

I am currently working on a photovoice project with 6 different gay men and lesbians in 6 different African countries. The idea is to document the experiences and challenges faced by gay women and men in a variety of countries and contexts in Africa. Due to the distance between them, this will be my first project where we will be exchanging photos through email and interviewing over Skype. However, we are all meeting at a conference in Nairobi in March to hold one final focus group in person and also to present some of the preliminary findings. 
Please give us a little teaser of the workshop you will be hosting at the Sustaining Peace conference on October 24.

Without giving too much away, I will be presenting and describing the method in all its potential uses, and then will conduct an activity that will allow the workshop attendees to experience and discuss the method at a participatory level. 

Daniel will be hosting a workshop at the upcoming Sustaining Peace conference on October 24, 2013 at Teachers College, Columbia University. Checkout the sidebar for more information!

Graduate Student Fellowships

Each year, AC4 funds select 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, master’s students’ thesis research, or capstone projects). This year we will fund 12 students for up to $3,000 and one team of students for up to $6,000. Two of the 12 fellowships will be granted to fund internships -- an exciting opportunity we are introducing for the first time this year. Students may not apply to both. For application requirements and materials please check our website

Deadline: February 3th, 2014.
Fellows will be announced in March 2014.

Questions may be directed to Nathanael Andreini at

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Sustaining Peace: Interdisciplinary Perspectives

Thursday October 24, 2013 Teachers College, Columbia University 1:30pm to 9:30

This year's conference will be hosted by AC4 in collaboration with the Masters Program on Negotiation and Conflict Resolution at Columbia University and the International Center for Cooperation and Conflict Resolution at Teachers College. The conference will address the current and future direction of the field and showcase cutting-edge work in conflict resolution, violence prevention, peace and sustainability at Columbia University including a Keynote address by Nobel Laureate Ms. Leymah Gbowee. In addition, Robin Vallacher, Peter T. Coleman, and Larry Liebovitch will discuss their most recent book: Attracted to Conflict: Dynamic Foundations of Destructive Social Relations. There will also be an exciting lineup of workshops to participate in. REGISTER NOW!

Have you visited 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. 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 University that share your interests. Please contact Nick Redding at 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 ( or Nathanael Andreini ( and you could be featured in the next AC4 monthly newsletter!
Advanced Consortium on Cooperation, Conflict, and Complexity (AC4)
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