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New News on Peace

So far, this blog focused on my work on wicked problems whose causes and consequences are so interconnected that you can’t solve them quickly, separately, or easily.


But I make my living as a peacebuilder. While the news from places like the Middle East is not good these days, we peacebuilders did get a piece (pun intended) of good news this week.

A new Geneva-based startup, Silicon Peace, has launched Peace Times News which does something that no one has done before. It gathers, curates, and publishes stories about conflict and peace efforts around the world. It has its fair share of stories about the world’s problems. This morning they included ones on Boko Haram in Nigeria, fighting in Syria, and the like.

But, it also has otherwise hard to find coverage not just of peace movements but of the role the private sector and technologists are playing and it extends the peacebuilder’s horizon to include other issues, including sustainability.

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Choosing Empathy

How does empathy help peacebuilding?

Empathy is one of those buzzwords that is making the rounds in the professional worlds I hang out in. Although I’ve long been interested in it, I now realize that it has to be at the heart of our work.

Recent research reported in the New York Times on July 12, 2015 suggests that we can choose to become more 12gray-blog427empathetic and become more effective in solving wicked (and other) problems as a result.

Those findings reinforce two central conclusions in my own work, the first of which has been around for a long time, while we are just beginning to explore the other.

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Domestic Peacebuilding

The Alliance for Peacebuliding (AfP) is about to add domestic conflict to the list of issues it works on. Until now, AfP members have done almost all of their work outside the US. At long last, we have realized that we also have to pay attention to the raging disputes that trouble our own country. Even though we were created to work abroad, events of the last few years have made it impossible for us to ignore the fact that the entire world needs peacebuilders. Violent conflict is as common in Baltimore as it is in Baghdad and in Ferguson as in FallujahAfP Logo

So, my colleagues and I are spending the summer exploring how we could build on our experiences addressing wicked problems abroad so that we can better cope with the political conflicts disrupting our own country.

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AfP 2015

AfP LogoThe Alliance for Peacebuilding held its annual conference in Washington DC from 13-15 May 2015. It was our most successful yet, with more than 350 people attending the first day at the United States Institute of Peace and about 200 coming to our working sessions on each of the following days. As we always do, we helped bring our members up to date on activities in the field. But even more than we have in the past, we helped our members and friends see the need to break new ground in dealing with domestic political issues in the United States, the media, the private sector, and neuroscience. Over the next few weeks, videos of the keynote talks and summaries of the panels will appear on the AfP web site.


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Build Peace 2015

Look just below the surface of any wicked problem these days and you are likely to find that there is a technological issue among its causes and that they will also figure in whatever ways we try to deal with it.

With that in mind, the Alliance for Peacebulding was delighted to co-sponsor the recent Build Peace conference which I attended at the end of April in Nicosia, Cyprus. Build Peace

It was the second such event organized by four remarkable young social entrepreneurs who call themselves as Build Up^. The first drew some 200 people to the iconic MIT Media Lab in 2014. They decided to hold the second one in Cyprus so that it could include events on both sides of the divided island of Cyprus’s “green line.”

This time, about 250 people from over 60 countries attended. The first day’s sessions were held at Bedestan–a restored church and open air market–in the Turkish half of the city. The second day’s session were  held at a number of locations on the Greek side of the border.


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