Monday, March 25, 2013

Wisconsin Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies



Aloha, Peacebuilders! For my culminating project as an ICS Major, I was able to do a Research Associateship with Professor Chad Ford and  was privileged to attend the University of Wisconsin’s conference entitled, “Borders, Boundaries and Peace” on February 28th – March 1st. I can tell you the chance that I had to present and network at this conference was once in a lifetime.

The Conference was hosted by the Wisconsin Institute for Peace and Conflict studies that spans all the universities in Wisconsin. It was hosted in the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee’s newly created school of public health, in one of the more run-down sections of Milwaukee. It was here that they completely refurbished a 200 year old building and have received a Gold certificate from the internationally recognized green building program.  It was beautiful, and held many facets of public health and sustainability that I had not considered yet.
Many people presenting at the conference had deep connections in the peacebuilding field. The CEO of the Alliance for Peacebuilding (make hyperlink,  http://www.allianceforpeacebuilding.org/) presented about how the nation is breaking down the barriers of peacebuilding and the growing field. We even had the US Program manager from the Institute for Economics and Peace (http://economicsandpeace.org/) explaining their wonderful research in quantifying the peaceful efforts worldwide (you may be surprised to hear that the United States only ranks medium in the Global Peace Index). Then the conference became very interdisciplinary. We had other Keynote Speakers from UWM’s center for Water Policy and UWM’s new dean of the School of Public Health. It was amazing to see how so many different fields care deeply about the world wide efforts towards peace building how great of a chance we have to get involved.
I was able to present during one of the Student parallel sessions. The sessions were divided into 8 categories, and my presentation fell under the topic of Central and South American Hegemony. Knowing the conference was very interdisciplinary and many had never heard of some of the precepts I would be referring to, I kept the presentation simple and went right to “Chad Ford’s Photorealistic Iceberg tm”. I explained the basis of the conflict I was covering; Chile and Bolivia’s fight for the sea, and then went to the iceberg. The basic needs that I talked about and the need to get the two countries to see each other as legitimate and important in the world economy were surprising for many and I hope I opened them up for new perspectives in peacebuilding.
I enjoyed presenting and listening to everything that all the speakers had to say. There were so many presentations I would have loved to listen to, but didn’t have the chance. I came away with new perspectives and a new insight into peace building.
                  At the conference, I was able to meet Rob Ricigliano, Director of the institute of World Affairs at UWM. It happened to be that he was coming to do some mediation work in Hawaii and had an open day to come present at BYU-Hawaii This Thursday, March 28, 2013. He will be presenting at 6 PM In the Mckay foyer. It is a great opportunity for you not only to hear about his work in international mediation, books, and professional background, but also because The University of Wisconsin in Milwaukee has created a new Masters of Peace and Sustainability and will be open for the first time beginning Fall 2014. I hope you’ll be able to make it!

-Kelsey Gonzalez

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