Challenging Challenge Questions

July 29, 2015

My name is Kimberly and I have been Dr. Iyer’s Grad Assistant since December 2014, preparing for this summer. From the perspective of someone working behind the scenes on the Summer Peacebuilding Program, one of the most exciting aspects of the program is the challenge question component. This component is basically a real world simulation within which four different international organizations have prepared real case studies with a challenge for small groups of participants. This year the four organizations are the Catholic Relief Services, International Rescue Committee, Partners for Democratic Change and World Bank. Each case takes place in a different country and deals with a different challenge to peacebuilding.

Yesterday representatives presented brief overviews of their organizations and their cases via Skype, which was an excellent opportunity to learn more about the perspectives, methodologies and values of these different organizations. Participants had the opportunity to ask questions not just about their potential case, but also about the work on the ground of these individuals. They will use this information to research, question, strategize and prepare over the next three weeks for a final presentation that will address their specific challenge, which will be attended by the representatives from the organizations.

All of this sounds pretty amazing, right? I am just an observer and I am pretty excited. However, perhaps the most astonishing part of all of this is that it took the 17 participants less than five minutes to organize themselves into groups of four and five. Yes, Dr. Iyer told them to self-organize and self-organize they did – in record time! Clearly their passion and interests shone through, although a couple made the solid point that all the cases and all the organizations seem pretty incredible and there was not really a wrong case to choose.

So in addition to the two to three sessions that the participants have a day, they will be working in their small groups to try to come up with creative answers to some very tough questions. I think that all of us involved in the Summer Peacebuilding Program are looking forward to the final day of presentations and learning…which I am sure will come a whole lot faster than the participants would like.

Participants listening to a challenge question presentation.

Participants listening to a challenge question presentation.

Participants listening to a challenge question presentation.

Participants listening to a challenge question presentation.

Beginning the inaugural Summer Peacebuilding Program!

July 26, 2015

The Center for Conflict Studies is gearing up for the opening reception of the inaugural Summer Peacebuilding Program here in Monterey. We are very excited to welcome 17 participants from all around the world to participate in three weeks of sessions, site visits, and research. Please follow us on Twitter @MIISCCS and on Facebook at Center for Conflict Studies for updates throughout the program.

SPP Poster