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In this issue: Letter from AC4 Research Coordinator Alessandra Radicati, Interviews with Christine Webb and Kyong Mazzaro, AC4 Fellowship opportunities, 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

In light of Friday’s tragic events in Newtown, Connecticut, AC4 would like to express its deepest condolences to all those who were affected.


Welcome back, everyone, for the last AC4 Newsletter of 2012!  It’s hard to believe that this year is already drawing to a close.  These past few months have been full of positive change, excitement and new connections here at AC4, and we’d like to take this opportunity to thank all of you for your support this year – from attending our events to reading the newsletter or engaging with us through social media, we appreciate all of the students, faculty, staff and community members who have shown such interest in and dedication to AC4’s mission.

Having only joined AC4 as Research Coordinator halfway through the year, I feel that I am still learning about all that the Columbia conflict resolution community has to offer.  But even as a relatively new member of the AC4 team, I can already appreciate the huge strides that we have made in 2012.  July saw the AC4 team travel to South Africa for the International Association of Conflict Management Annual Conference (IACM) in Stellenbosch; seven recipients of our IACM scholarship were also in attendance, representing six different countries.  In September, we were delighted to welcome our Post-Doctoral Scholar Joshua Fisher, whose courses and research have received extensive accolades.  2012 also included two very successful events: the first AC4 Conflict Resolution Internship Fair, held in February (stay tuned for more details on the upcoming 2013 Internship Fair) and the November Sustainable Peace Event featuring workshops and posters from a wide array of disciplines at Columbia, as well as the launch of Professors Peter T. Coleman and Morton Deutsch’s book, The Psychological Components of Sustainable Peace.  We were also delighted to launch both our new website and AC4 Link, both of which have received thousands of visits since going live. 

While December may signal the end of the semester, it’s also a time to look forward to all the things that the year ahead has to offer.  2013 will start off on a high note, with several important milestones in the first few months: our 2nd Annual Conflict Resolution Internship Fair, the application deadline for our next cohort of AC4 Fellows, and the next application cycle for our IACM Scholarship.  We’re excited about all of these things, and look forward to more opportunities to interact with all of our wonderful readers.  

We wish you all a restful and happy winter break and we look forward to seeing you next year!
 
Alessandra


Interview with Christine Webb, AC4 Fellow, 2012 Cohort

Graduate students - it's time to start thinking about your application for the 2013 AC4 Fellowship Program! The deadline is Monday, February 4, 2013.  For the next few editions of our newsletter, we'll be bringing you insights from previous fellows who can share their experience and explain how this opportunity impacted their research goals.

Can you tell us a little about your background, and what brought to you to your field and to Columbia?
I received my BA in Psychology from Emory, where I studied the social behavior of capuchin monkeys under the supervision of Dr. Frans de Waal. Upon graduating, I worked as a field assistant in South Africa through the University of Capetown and the Baboon Research Unit. Though I came to Columbia to continue studying non-human primate behavior, I ended up being drawn to a human motivation lab. In this lab, I have had the opportunity to blend my interests in human and non-human primate behavior. Namely, I am interested in exploring what motivates us (primates alike) to resolve conflict. On a basic level, what are the initial (social and behavioral) drivers of reconciliation? Are there individual differences in these motivations?  To what extent can we compare human and non-human primate strategies of conflict resolution? These are just some of the questions that I am interested in, and I have found research bridging these two fields of study to be incredibly exciting.

What motivated you to apply for the AC4 Graduate Student Fellowship, and how did you hear about it?
I learned about the fellowship through an ongoing collaboration with the International Center for Cooperation and Conflict Resolution (ICCCR), an affiliate of AC4.  I applied mainly to learn what other types of research were going on around Columbia in my field of interest and to develop further collaborations. I saw it not only as a relevant source of funding, but also as an opportunity to increase the interdisciplinary scope of my own research and education.

Can you tell us a little bit about how you used your funds?
I intended to use the fellowship funds for participation compensation and various research materials. However, after getting permission from the coordinator, I ended up using the funds to travel to the International Association for Conflict Management (IACM) conference in Stellenbosch, South Africa this past summer. At the IACM conference, I gave a poster presentation on my project, titled “Motivations for Reconciliation: Regulatory Mode, Individual Differences, and Evolutionary Considerations.” It was a great opportunity to disseminate my project to a wider audience and to receive feedback from a variety of researchers and scholars in the field.

Do you think your project would have been different without the fellowship? Did the fellowship have an your research?
I certainly do not think I would have had the opportunity to travel to the IACM conference were it not for the AC4 Fellowship. It was actually through AC4 that I first heard about IACM, so it was helpful in more ways than one!

What advice do you have for students applying for the fellowship in 2013?
Stay true to your interests. If you want to study something out of the ordinary, do it. Do not mold your research into something that you think people will automatically like or agree with. The point is to convince them!  AC4 is an interdisciplinary organization, and accordingly supports research in a variety of areas.  If you have a novel idea for studying conflict, chances are you are on the right track – particularly if you demonstrate passion for your ideas.    


Student Fellowships

Each year, the Advanced Consortium on Cooperation, Conflict, and Complexity (AC4) funds as many as 11 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 10 students for up to $3,000 and one team of students for up to $6,000. Team applicants must present a truly interdisciplinary research proposal. Students may not apply to both. For application requirements and materials please check our website

The deadline for submissions is February 4th, 2013.
Fellows will be announced in March 2013.

Questions may be directed to Alessandra Radicati at aradicati@ei.columbia.edu

Interview with Kyong Mazzaro, AC4 Project Coordinator and Research Assistant to Professor Peter T. Coleman


You have a very international background – can you share a little bit more about that, and how it has influenced your interest in conflict resolution?
Both growing up in a family of immigrants and being Venezuelan have had a huge effect in my career choices. My father migrated to Venezuela from Italy with his parents in the mid-fifties and my mother did the same from Korea in the seventies, they met and got married in Caracas.  On the one hand, my parent’s immigration experiences, and the fact that my sisters and I were Venezuelan but also “half Italian-half Korean”, fueled my interest in migration studies, especially as it relates to ingroup-outgroup dynamics and identity. These interests motivated me to study migration in Italy, where I did my master’s. On the other hand, growing up in a country where cultural diversity is generally embraced but inequality, social exclusion, and criminality are major concerns has encouraged me to focus on social justice and social development.
 
Are there significant differences between how people approach the study of conflict (or research more generally) in Venezuela and Italy versus the United States?
My experiences at the Universidad Central de Venezuela, the University of Rome (La Sapienza), and Columbia University have been significantly different. However, I would not attribute these differences exclusively to the disciplinary perspectives or methodological approaches. Yes, the study of international relations and conflict in Caracas was more theoretical and less empirical, and the projects I worked on in Rome were preeminently qualitative and applied. However, the political situation in Venezuela, and the ‘immigration crisis’ in Italy greatly influenced and gave a sort of sense of ‘urgency’ to the conflict research agendas. At Columbia University with Professor Peter Coleman, I have had the unique opportunity to take a step back. Here, the focus is centered on the basic dynamics of conflict and conceptual models that are empirically tested and can ultimately inform policy and practice in a different way. In any case, I have found all these approaches to be valuable and interrelated.

What would you say have been some of your biggest influences in inspiring your research interests and your approach to the study of peace and conflict?
When I was a student in Caracas I had the great privilege of studying with an extraordinary group of people. Although as a public university the Universidad Central faced many funding issues, and beyond the extremely polarized political situation of the country, my classmates were very committed to the political processes that we were living, and found their education to be a key factor in their political and professional lives. In this respect, I was and still am inspired by their commitment, regardless of their political affiliations, social statuses or professional interests, to doing and interpreting research as it is connected to reality. In other words, my classmates convinced me of research’s potential to transform reality. This idea was also reinforced by the fact that we took critical theory very seriously… Perhaps too seriously!
 
What is the most valuable advice you could give to a person just starting out in this field?
I would tell him or her to be persistent and to welcome any opportunity to do interdisciplinary work. Also to take a look at AC4’s resources to connect with people at Columbia working in the fields of peace, conflict and sustainability.

Congratulations to the Fall 2012 Graduates of the MS Program in Negotiation and Conflict Resolution!

The Master of Science program in Negotiation and Conflict Resolution at Columbia’s School of Continuing Education held its 7th Capstone Thesis Presentations on Sunday, December 9th, 2012. The presentations are a showcase of graduate applied research in the field of conflict resolution and the culminating project of the master’s program.  It is a full semester seminar where students produce a scholarly paper on applied research on a topic of their choosing in contexts ranging from interpersonal to organizational to international.  This semester, students explored a wide range of topics which included how federal government communicates with its citizens in the event of a natural disaster, women’s roles in the Mormon Church, the challenges of long-term care for children with low-functioning autism, and factors contributing to the 2012 conflict in Mali. Congratulations to the NECR Class of Fall 2012!

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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!

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.

Join us for the 2nd Annual AC4 Conflict Resolution Internship Fair!

AC4 is pleased to announce its 2nd Annual Conflict Resolution Internship Fair, to be held on February 21, 2013, from 2:00pm to 4:00pm in 555 Alfred Lerner Hall on the Columbia University Morningside Campus. Building on the success of last year’s event, we invite organizations and students working in the areas of peace and sustainability, violence prevention, social justice, human rights and international development to make connections and learn about opportunities in this field.  Please check the event website, which will be updated regularly, for further information about participating organizations and raffle prizes!
Advanced Consortium on Cooperation, Conflict, and Complexity (AC4)
475 Riverside Drive, Suite 253
New York, NY 10115
(212) 870-2771
ac4.ei.columbia.edu