Fall 2023 Peace Week

Fall 2023 Peace Week! Fall 2023 Peace Week was held September 18th through September 22nd. The Carter School Fall 2023 Peace Week titled Building Peace in Partnership. 

Peace Wall: You are invited to leave messages of hope, peace, and solidarity by writing on one of our peace walls throughout the course of Peace Week. Located at Peterson Hall lobby on the Fairfax Campus and on the windows of Van Metre Hall in Mason Plaza in Arlington. Please ask the information stand located in Van Metre for window markers or someone manning the plaza. 

Monday, September 18th:

9:00 AM - 10:20 AM: Peace Researchers at the Cutting Edge


Format: Virtual 

Host: Tehama Lopez Bunyasi

This panel will feature insights from three peace researchers who are guiding the field forward into new interdisciplinary perspectives. The first speaker will discuss how the stories and moods of music can help shape social change. The second speaker will share research on connected communities, emerging technologies, and data governance. The final speaker will explore transportation as a site of conflict and peacebuilding in urban communities.


Tehama Lopez Bunyasi, Associate Professor, Carter School

Audrey Williams, Manager of The Narrative Transformation Lab, PhD candidate 

Elana Sokol, Peace Engineering Fellow, PhD candidate

Ashton Rohmer, Peace Engineering Fellow, PhD candidate

10:30 AM - 12:00 PM: Contact Theory: Lesson Learned for Peace Building and Conflict Resolution


Format: Virtual

Host: Karina Korostelina 

Presented by: RCID Lab, Center for Peacebuilding Practice

Contact theory – one of the most influential theoretical ideas in social psychology – posits that positive, enduring contact between antagonistic groups that facilitates cooperation toward common goals can reduce intergroup prejudice. Despite widespread use of intergroup contact, there is a lack of systematic consideration of program approaches and theories of change in relation to a wide body of empirical evidence on contact theory. This session represents the result of the first stage of a collaborative academic-practitioner research project to improve DRG programming involving intergroup contact through the utilization and sharing of empirical evidence and tested methods. The presentations describe results of an expanded literature review on contact theory and theories of change and a rigorous, mixed-methods desk review of DRG programs in relation to the latest evidence on intergroup contact.


Karina Korostelina, Professor, Carter School 

Susan Allen, Director of Graduate Programs, Carter School 

Beltina Gjeloshi, Ph.D. student, Carter School

Natia Chankvetadze, Ph.D. student, Carter School

3:00 PM - 4:30 PM: Partnerships for Big Peace: A Major Challenge to Our Field


Format: Virtual

Host: Richard Rubenstein

"Peacebuilding" has become such a vague and multifarious term that virtually any joint development-focused activity can be called a "partnership for peace." But if the goal is Big Peace -- a resolution of the structural conflicts dividing societies along lines of class, race, and nationality or empire -- the question of how to work collaboratively with others becomes much more challenging. In this session, Professors Emeritus Richard Rubenstein and Sara Cobb partner with Profs. Michael English and Solon Simmons to discuss how to construct effective partnerships for Big Peace.


Richard Rubenstein, University Prof. Emeritus, Carter School

Sara Cobb, Professor Emerita, Carter School

Solon Simmons, Assoc. Prof., Carter School

Michael English, Director of Conflict Studies, University of Colorado at Boulder, Carter School Alumnus.

5:00 PM - 6:30 PM: Sudan at War, Again: View from the Ground


Format: Virtual 

Host: Daniel Rothbart

Presented by: Peace Lab: Transforming the Mind for Peace

Sudan is embroiled currently in a civil war between the Sudan Armed Force and the militant group known as the Rapid Support Force. As of June 18, 2023, the resulting violence has caused over 2000 fatalities, 10,000 casualties, and massive displacement. The humanitarian crisis is aggravated by decades of system inequalities nation-wide. So, what exactly does this look like from ground-level? What are civilians witnessing, experiencing and enduring? What are the prospects for cessation of hostilities and a return to at least a minimally functioning society? To answer these questions, we bring together three Sudanese experts on the nation’s calamities. These experts offer insight into the current tragedy and the precarious road ahead.


Dr. Suliman Baldo, Senior Advisor of the Enough Project

Dr. Suliman Giddo, President, Sub-Saharan University College

Dr. Daniel Rothbart, Carter School

6:00 PM - 7:00 PM: Let’s Chalk Peace

Social gathering for GMU students, staff, and faculty to chalk peace messages around Fairfax Campus for International Day of Peace and for 2023 Fall Peace Week. 

Meet outside of Merten Hall on Fairfax GMU campus. Will walk over to chalk at 6:10pm.

Tuesday, September 19th:

9:00 AM - 10:20 AM: Real World Conflicts: Opportunities for Engagement


Format: Virtual

Host: Julie Rouge 

Conflict resolution is a daily part of navigating our complex world. This interactive session explores conflict resolution approaches to the most pressing problems facing us interpersonally, in community, nationally and globally. This session focuses on ways that anyone can engage in conflict resolution practices. 

Presenter: Julie Rouge, Associate Dean, Carter School 


10:30 AM - 11:50 AM: Dynamics of Wartime Attitudes and Identity in Frontline Ukrainian Cities


Format: Virtual

Host: Karina Korostelina 

Presented by: RCID Lab

Professors Karina Korostelina and Gerard Toal will present new survey findings from their ongoing National Science Foundation sponsored research project on Ukrainian social attitudes. In April 2023, Dr. Korostelina and Dr. Toal conducted a survey of 500 people and 90 semi-structured interviews in Eastern Ukraine, as a continuation of research begun in July 2022. The results reveal changes in the concepts of Ukrainian national identity, dynamics of attitudes and feelings toward Russia as well as perceptions and support for war, peace, and international aid.


Karina Korostelina, Professor, Carter School 

Gerard Toal, Virginia Tech

12:00 PM - 1:20 PM: Promoting Social Cohesion: Connecting Community Programs to Peacemaking


Format: Virtual

Host and Moderator: Jeffrey W Helsing, Executive Director of the Better Evidence Project, Carter School

Presented by: Better Evidence Project

A consistent challenge for peace and conflict resolution work is how the promotion of social cohesion—community connectedness, orientation towards the common good, and equity—reduces the drivers of conflict and contributes to building more sustainable peace.  The presentations and discussion by the Carter School’s two IREX Community Solutions Fellows will focus on how community programs that strengthen social cohesion in Jerusalem and Colombia contribute to broader peacemaking goals.  The specific focus will be on ways that projects in Jerusalem that focus on poverty and meeting essential needs of Palestinian families and the prevention of human rights violations in Colombia contribute to promoting social cohesion. They will discuss what has worked well and what has not and their project plans for when they return to their communities.


Lina Guerrero Zarco, Capacity Development Advisor, Conectando Caminos por los Derechos-Pact, Colombia, IREX Community Solutions Project Fellow, Carter School

Lujain Subhi, Coordinator of the Family First Program, Jerusalem, and IREX Community Solutions Project Fellow, Carter School

1:30 PM - 2:50 PM: Rethinking Careers in Peace Part III


Format: Virtual

Host: Kellye Richardson

Presented by: Alumni Chapter 

We are excited to invite you to an engaging and insightful alumni panel where you'll hear from exceptional individuals who will consider how they’ve operationalized building peace and partnerships in their careers.

Join us as we consider the triumphs and challenges faced by Carter School alumni as they recount their post-graduation journeys and share wisdom gained from navigating the professional world. This unique opportunity will allow you to network and gain valuable insights, whether you're a current student seeking career guidance or an alumnus looking for inspiration to excel in your endeavors.

Attendees will have the chance to ask questions and interact with the panelists, creating a dynamic and engaging atmosphere for all.

Moderator: Mark Finney, Professor of Media and Communication, Emory & Henry College


Charles Davidson, Research Assistant Professor, Carter School for Peace and Conflict Resolution

David Smith: Owner of David J. Smith Consulting, LLC: Career Coaching, Conflict Coaching, Consulting, Facilitation; adjunct faculty at the Carter School and manages the career seminars; president of the Forage Center.

Mystelle Ruble: Leads the Transitions Practice Area within the Communities in Transition division at Creative Associates International, an international development implementer primarily working with USAID.

Lindsay Burr: CEO of Yarbrough Group, a company that specializes in helping people talk to each other and to themselves, more clearly, effectively, and authentically. 

David Alpher: Conflict and Violence Prevention Integrator for USAID, working to integrate a deeper understanding of conflict and conflict prevention across the spectrum of USAID's programming.

3:00 PM - 4:20 PM: Exploring an Academic Alliance for AI Policy


Format: Virtual 

Host: Hamid Ekbia, Elana Sokol

Sponsor: Alpaslan Ozerdem

Presented By: Peace Engineering Lab 

This panel session will explore the development of an academic AI policy alliance and how the multidisciplinary study of peace engineering can contribute to this emergent collaboration.


Elana Sokol, Peace Engineering Fellow and PhD candidate, GMU Carter School  

Alpaslan Ozerdem, Dean, GMU Carter School

Hamid Ekbia, Director, Syracuse University Autonomous Systems Policy Institute 

Ziad Achkar, recent PhD graduate, GMU Carter School

Branka Panic, Founder and Executive Director, AI for Peace

4:30 PM - 6:00 PM: Undergraduate Practice & Research at the Carter School Labs & Centers


Format: Virtual 

Host: Emma Klainberg

Hear from undergraduate students who are working with the many labs and centers at the Carter School. Learn about their experiences, how their work is combining theory and practice, and how you can also get involved. 


Vernice Heard, Transitioning Justice Lab

Nayeon Kim, Peace and Conflict Studies Center Asia

Celine Apenteng, John Mitchell Jr. Program for History, Justice, and Race

Hannah Schmutzer, The Narrative Transformation Lab

Merisa Mattix, Mary Hoch Center for Reconciliation 

Kamila Elyazgi, Better Evidence Project

Drew Kolber, Peace Engineering Lab

6:30 PM - 8:00 PM: Restorative Justice and Practice: Recognizing Community Partners and Alumni


Format: In-Person 

Host: Susan Hirsch and Julie Rouge

Presented by: Transitioning Justice Lab

This networking event and reception highlights contributions of Carter School community partners and alumni to building and sustaining community-focused restorative approaches. Restorative justice and restorative practices are gaining attention as key elements of preventing destructive conflict, reducing oppressive and discriminatory responses to harm, promoting healing for people who have experienced harm, and fostering empathy, accountability, and transparency in our interactions with one another. How are these aims furthered through partnerships (e.g., with non-profits, universities)? This session begins with a recognition of Restorative Arlington, Carter School’s newest partner in this area, followed by brief presentations by partner organizations and alumni on best practices, key opportunities, and current challenges in community-based restorative work, with emphasis on partnerships. Attendees will then be invited to participate in small group discussions of questions emerging from the topics presented. To alumni, students, faculty, community members, and cherished partners: come celebrate the accomplishments of our partners and alumni and offer your thoughts on next directions for restorative initiatives at Carter School.

Informal remarks by:  

Kimiko Lighty, Restorative Arlington, Executive Director

NVMS Representatives 

Patricia Maulden, Professor, Carter School 

Susan Hirsch, Vernon M. and Minnie I. Lynch Chair of Conflict Analysis and Resolution, Carter School

Julie Rouge, Associate Dean, Carter School 

Wednesday, September 20th:

9:00 AM - 10:20 AM: Peacebuilding Legacies and Young People's Attitudes to Peace


Format: Virtual 

Host: Agnieszka Paczynska

This session will discuss the findings of Sukanya Podder's book Peacebuilding Legacies and its implications for peacebuilding programming for changing young people's attitudes for peace.


Agnieszka Paczynska, Professor, Carter School

Sukanya Podder, Reader, King's College London

Patricia Moulden, Professor, Carter School

Jason Calder, Director Saferworld USA

Saji Prelis, Director of Children & Youth Programs, Search for Common Ground and co-chair of Global Coalition on Youth, Peace and Security

10:30 AM - 11:50 AM: Psychological First Aid for Emerging Practitioners


Format: Virtual 

Host: Merisa Mattix 

Sponsor: Antti Pentikainen

Presented by: Mary Hoch Center for Reconciliation (MHCR)

The field of reconciliation is so fulfilling, but can be emotionally and mentally exhausting at times, especially when working in one’s own community. This online interactive workshop enables emerging practitioners to equip themselves with best practices for psychological safety as they engage in conflict contexts. We will hear from experienced practitioners Rowda Olad and Antti Pentikainen who will share their advice for caring for yourself while in the field. The MHCR team will then share their experiences as student practitioners, and how they work to avoid burnout. Join us to try some of these strategies together, and build your own first aid kit!


Rowda Olad, MHCR Insider Reconciler Fellow, Mental Health Practitioner at Mandeeq Mental Health

Merisa Mattix, MHCR Development and Administration Officer

Nicholas Sherwood, Carter School Graduate Lecturer 

Hannah Adamson, MHCR Programs Officer 

Deborah Sachare, MHCR Associate Director

Antti Pentikainen, MHCR Director

12:00 PM - 1:20 PM: Rotary and Carter School Collaboration for Peace


Format: Virtual 

Host: Maria Seniw

Helping Rotary Achieve its Peacebuilding Potential. “Peace is in Rotary’s DNA” is a phrase often heard in Rotary circles, but how this translates into action–the specifics of what to do, where to do it, and how to do it well–has been much less clear. The speakers will describe an ambitious, new member-led initiative united Rotary and the Carter School for Peace and Conflict Resolution at George Mason University around a wide range of field projects and peace education activities aimed at bringing Rotary’s unique mission and social capital to bear on some of the planet’s most vexing conflicts. Hear from individuals involved in developing the collaboration and the collaboration’s inaugural director.


Larry Cooley, President Emeritus, Management Systems International

Charles Davidson, Political Leadership Academy Director, Carter School 

Patricia Shafer, Executive Director, NewGen Peacebuilders; Rotary Peace Fellow

Rebecca Crall, Area of Focus Manager – Peacebuilding and Conflict Prevention, Rotary International

With remarks from Alpaslan Özerdem, Dean, Carter School for Peace and Conflict Resolution and Al Jubitz, Founding Director, Jubitz Family Foundation

1:30 PM - 2:50 PM: Finding an Internship Placement: Advice from Carter School Undergraduates


Format: Virtual

Host: Jane, Director of Undergraduate Services 

This panel of undergraduate students will share how to find and make the most of an internship experience. Bring your questions and learn about a variety of placement opportunities, how to balance interning with school work, and how to use an internship experience as a stepping stone to your next opportunity. 


Maryam Qureshi - International Center for Ethno-Religious Mediation Internship

Aaliyah Zagade -U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania Internship 

Lina Bondesson - American Councils for International Education 

Reagan Shannon - Defense Intelligence Agency, Intern in the Equal Opportunity and Diversity Office

3:15 PM - 4:35 PM: Uncovering the Seeds of Cultural Peace in Valle, Colombia


Format: In-Person

Host: Isabella Cuevas

Sponsor: Charles Davidson

This session will dive into the peacebuilding project that focused on promoting social change and conflict transformation through grassroots work alongside the local community located in Jamundi, Colombia. It will discuss the essential aspects during the unfolding of this bottom-up peace initiative, as it was based on the specific needs, interests, and responses of the community and youth group, which has and is facing violence at various levels due to its complex and rough history. Diverse interactive approaches, tailored to the local context, were facilitated and developed throughout five weeks. The experience revealed not only the importance of peace partnerships with local residents and leaders, including its youth, but also how social cohesion and individual well-being are key vehicles for a sustainable path toward social change and peacebuilding in the day-to-day. 

Presenter: Isabella Cuevas, Undergraduate and Accelerated Ma Student, Carter School. 


7:00 PM - 8:30 PM: Fireside Chats


Format: In Person

Host: Mara Schoeny 

GMU student, gather us for a Fireside Chat with your classmates, staff, and faculty. Meet at the HUB fire pits for a social gathering.  


Thursday, September 21st:

9:00 AM - 10:30 AM: Reconstruction of Ukrainian High Education


Format: Virtual 

Host: Karina Korostelina

As the new school year approaches, we acknowledge and address the challenges to Ukrainian universities: beleaguered by financial shortfalls, scarcity of staff and students, and a battered infrastructure. Addressing these acute and long-term challenges facing Ukrainian education requires urgent attention. The survival, preservation, and growth of these institutions in the years ahead hinge critically on prioritizing education in the country's reconstruction efforts. Developing the capacity of higher education to address economic and societal challenges and support prosperous and peaceful communities is at the heart of sustainable reconstruction. This monumental task of rebuilding is not achievable without a strong commitment to supporting education, ultimately forming the backbone of its growth and prosperity. The roundtable will engage the key experts and politicians from Ukraine and the US in the discussion of the systemic approach for the reconstruction of Ukrainian high education and strengthening of its role in rebuilding Ukrainian society.


Karina Korostelina, Professor, Carter School 

Alpaslan Ozerdem. Dean, Carter School 

Shlomo Weber, Co-Director, GEAR (Greater EurAsia Research Center(, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.

Timofiy Milovanov, Former Minister of Economic Development and the current President of Kyiv School of Economics

Mikhail Minakov, Senior Advisor, Kennan Institute, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars 

Tymofii Brik, Ph.D., rector, Kyiv School of Economics

11:00 AM - 12:20 PM: Tracking the Human Nervous System for Sustainable Partnership Development


Format: Virtual 

Host: Melissa Sinclair 

Description: The human nervous system is dynamic, constantly responding to external stimuli through cycles of activation and deactivation. By taking these natural cycles into account, we can create more sustainable and nurturing partnerships with diverse stakeholders. Using examples from the mobilization of a rapid response to war trauma through the Somatic Experiencing Ukraine Task Force (2022-2023) and insights from the field of neurobiology, this presentation will identify patterns of activation and settling that are common for individuals and institutions in times of crisis and offer tips for employing a trauma-informed approach to partnership development.

Presenter: Melissa Sinclair, PhD, Carter School Alum

12:30 PM - 1:50 PM: Gumbo Diplomacy: How Food is Used to Win Friends and Influence People


Format: Virtual

Host: Hassanah I. Thomas

Sponsor and Moderator: Mercedes Allsop, Executive Assistant to the Dean’s Office, Carter School 

Food is a universal expression of love. Historically, it has always played a valuable role in building diplomatic relations and is increasingly becoming recognized as an official “soft power” in many countries' diplomatic tool boxes. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield was thrown into the national spotlight in November 2020, when she used the term “Gumbo Diplomacy” while accepting President-elect Joe Biden’s nomination to be U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations.

In partnership with "Eats Meets West," this engaging panel discussion will offer a fresh and captivating approach to fostering cooperation, inclusiveness, and cultural exchange through the lens of culinary diplomacy. Our esteemed panelists will share their valuable insights and experiences, illuminating the transformative power of food in diplomatic relations. By shedding light on the remarkable ways food has been employed to build bridges between nations, promote cultural understanding, and drive positive change in international affairs, we affectionately refer to this concept as "Gumbo Diplomacy." 


Alpaslan Ozerdem, Dean, Professor of Peace and Conflict Studies, Carter School 

Mr. Melvin P. Foote, Founder and President, Constituency for Africa (CFA)

Prof. Johanna Mendelson-Forman, PhD, JD, Adjunct Professor, Conflict Cuisine Project, School of International Service, American University

Matthew Wendel, Assistant Chief of Protocol and General Manager of the Blair House. Previously he was the personal chef for Pres. George W. Bush throughout his presidency. He is the author of, Recipes from the President’s Ranch.

2:00 PM - 3:20 PM: Circles for Peace & Justice


Format: Virtual 

Host: Patricia Maulden 

Presented by: Transitioning Justice Peace Lab

How should the peace and conflict field respond to calls for justice especially in response to conflict or harm? More broadly, how might justice and human rights play a larger role in our theories and our practices? This event will raise these and related questions through breakout discussions using Circle Processes. The event will begin with a brief introduction of Basic Circle Process, which is an approach to discussion that guarantees everyone a turn to speak, if they so choose. The main portion of the event will give the attendees an opportunity to participate in facilitated, breakout room circles. Participants are encouraged to stay for the entire event to experience the circle process and to learn what others discussed during a brief share out and Q&A. Finally, attendees will collaborate in creating next steps for the field as it comes to terms with the role of justice.  The intended audience includes  anyone interested in developing facilitation skills around peace and justice or anyone interested in learning more about these processes.


Dr. Patricia Maulden, Associate Professor, Carter School 

Laura Lento, MSW&MS Dual Degree Student

Dr. Evelyn Tomaszewk, Program Director, Master Social Work, George Mason University 

Katreena Blazewicz, MSW&MS Dual Degree Student

2:00 PM - 3:20 PM: Unraveling the Hidden Impact of Militarism: Feminism, Peace and Justice


Format: Virtual 

Host: Richard Rubenstein 

Contemporary troubling trends like global conflicts and identity politics are widespread, making it difficult to achieve peace, justice, and environmental protection. Issues like white supremacy, racism, patriarchy, xenophobia, authoritarianism, misogyny, inequality, and imperialism are not just present but openly exposed and driven by powerful individuals. Efforts to address existential threats like climate change and nuclear weapons are undermined by these trends. Amidst all this, militarism remains a powerful force, often overlooked in its influence throughout history.

But why is militarism not receiving enough attention, even when there is a growing awareness of excessive military spending and misplaced priorities? The concept of 'banal militarism,' as described by Virchow and Thomas in 2006, urges us to look beyond obvious displays of aggression and see how militarized ideas become normalized in everyday life. Recognizing the hidden but pervasive nature of 'banal militarism' and its highly destructive impact requires us to carefully examine its connections to other harmful phenomena in our time.

To address this, roundtable participants will share their thinking on frameworks that aim to expand the analysis of structural conflicts and inequalities by incorporating militarism as a central perspective. This roundtable discussion is not value-free but envisions a fresh approach to promoting peace and justice. It calls for dismantling the interconnected racism-militarism paradigm and embracing a decolonized, feminist, and anti-racist agenda to confront the geographies of violence.


Patrick Hiller,  Executive Director, War Prevention Initiative

Richard Rubenstein, Professor Emeritus, Carter School   

Nancy Okail, President,  Center for International Policy

Sara Kutchesfahani, Director of Programs, Ploughshares Fund

Faria Rashid, Student, Carter School

2:30 PM - 4 PM: Careers in the Social Sciences Information Session & Tour


Join the Office of Admissions at George Mason University for an on-campus information session and tour specific to the Carter School of Conflict Analysis and Resolution. The visit consists of a 30-minute information session with staff from the academic program followed by an Ambassador guided tour of campus. Visitors can also elect to take a self-guided tour if they would like. We recommend allotting at least 1 hour and 30 minutes for an Ambassador-led tour, or 45-minutes for your self-guided tour.

3:30 PM - 5:30 PM: Carter School International Day


Format: In Person, 3351 Fairfax Drive, Arlington VA, 22201, Mason Plaza 

Host: Amber Williams & Hamda Qaiser

Partnering with: University Life  

Carter School presents the first International Day coming to Mason Square in Arlington this Fall. As part of Carter School Fall 2023 Peace Week, we welcome students, staff, faculty, and community members to join us in celebrating International Day of Peace on September 21st by highlighting the many nationalities represented at Mason. Our event will showcase several countries from around the world. This year’s Carter School Peace Week theme is "Building Peace in Partnership." We hope you take this opportunity to connect with community members and share your voices. Walk around Mason Plaza and celebrate diverse cultures through live entertainment, food, crafts, and more! 


5:45 PM - 7:15 PM: Film Screening and Discussion: "Black Girl" (Dir. Ousmane Sembène, 1966)


Format: In Person

Host: Solon Simmons

Presented by: The Narrative Transformation Lab

Join The Narrative Transformation Lab for a screening of "Black Girl" (run time: 55 minutes), a 1966 film directed by acclaimed Senegalese filmmaker Ousmane Sembène. Following the screening, TNT Lab members will guide the audience in a narrative plotting of the film's peace and conflict themes, focusing on how story elements such as plot, character, pacing, and imagery shape our understanding of the struggle at the heart of the film. About "Black Girl" "Black Girl" follows Diouana, a Senegalese woman who is employed by a French couple to care for their children. When the French family offers Diouana a job working for them on their return to France, she experiences a sudden shift in her position in the household. Highlighting themes of colonialism, racism, and personal agency, "Black Girl" challenges its viewers to grapple with the personal experience of structural violence.


Solon Simmons, TNT Lab Director, Associate Professor, Carter School

Audrey Williams, TNT Lab Manager, PhD student, Carter School

Friday, September 22nd:

9:00 AM - 10:20 AM: “Applied Compassion: Using Neuroscience to Enhance Conflict Prevention”


Format: Virtual 

Host: Kristen Fegan

Sponsor: Marc Gopin

Presented by: CRDC

This is a panel discussion exploring the ethics of employing cutting-edge discoveries about empathy and compassion in the brain combined with "neuromarketing" and other rational interventions to orient people toward peace and prevent violent conflict. Such approaches are already being widely deployed in popular culture to encourage people to change their behavior, make purchases, and consume content. How does this new potential intersect with peacebuilding and violence prevention, and how can conflict resolution professionals make use of these discoveries while maintaining an ethical position?


Dr. Ben Rein, Post Doc at Stanford in Neuroscience 

Dr. Ben Rein's CV 

Dr. Khara Ramos, VP of Neuroscience and Society at the DANA Foundation  

Dr. Khara Ramos's Bio 

Dr. Olga Klimecki, psychologist and senior researcher at the University of Geneva Swiss Center for Affective Sciences

Marc Gopin, Director, Center for World Religions, Diplomacy and Conflict Resolution, Carter School

Kristen Fegan, Graduate Student, Carter School 

10:30 AM - 12:00 PM: Experiential Reflections on International and Local NGOs’ Relationships


Format: Virtual 

Host: Charles Kwuelum

Sponsor: Dan Rothbart 

A genuinely equitable and safe relationship between actors (local and international) remains indispensable to effective peacebuilding processes, innovation and an opportunity for resilience building in interventions. In the panel we will hear from peacebuilding actors and collaborators (local and international) in their practical experiences as they build partnerships, and discover potentials, ingenuity, indigenous wisdom, ownership and toward the path of just peace, including their challenges and barriers to equitable partnership in building peace. Anchoring on mutual accompaniment and learning between actors as partners and collaborators, they will highlight the importance of context, culture, and the indispensable role of the actors in their case studies.


Charles Kwuelum, PhD Candidate (ABD), Carter School, and Senior Peace Education and Advocacy Associate, International Affairs 

Jack Lesniewski, Country Representative, Mennonite Central Committee Guatemala-El Salvador 

Mayra Magdalena Reanda Tacaxoy serves as the Program coordinator of Asociacion Nuevo Amanecer de Santiago Atitlán (ANADESA)

Justina Ngwobia, Executive Director, Justice, Peace, Reconciliation Movement/JPRM – Jos, Plateau State and member, Movement for Community-Led Development

Mulanda Jimmy Juma, Country Representative, Mennonite Central Committee Rwanda & Burundi. 

Cassien Ndikuriyo, Legal Representative and National Director, Help Channel Burundi (HCB)

Barry Shelley, Scholar-Practitioner and Consultant - Collaborative Leadership

12:00 PM - 2:00 PM: SDGs Workshop and Training


Format: In Person or Virtual 

Host: Karina Korostelina 

SDGs Workshop and training- co sponsored by the Institute for Sustainable Earth. The session is aimed at providing an introduction about sustainable development and the 2030 Agenda, the role of higher education in advancing it, ideas for implementation on campus and beyond highlighting core areas of action for universities, and potential review mechanisms. 

Presenter: Omar Hernández, Program Manager of the United Nations Academic Impact and Public Information Officer

12:30 PM - 1:50 PM: Urban Peacebuilding Systems: Envisioning More Holistic Approaches in Our Cities


Format: Virtual 

Host: Arthur Romano

Cities across the country are standing up agencies to address gun violence through various prevention and violence interruption programs. Other metropolitan areas are rethinking their approaches to existential threats like climate change and environmental degradation through innovative partnerships and new engagement mechanisms. Still others are recognizing the importance of integrating perspectives like public health and social equity to create more livable neighborhoods. While these efforts are tackling different issues, what they all have in common is pursuing systems-level change to pernicious urban challenges. This session’s panelists will point the way to some surprising opportunities for building peace in urban communities and provide ideas for thinking creatively about more holistic and bold approaches to city-wide violence prevention. 


Dr. Michael Shank, Director of Engagement, Carbon Neutral Cities Alliance

Patt Gunn, Executive Director and Co-Founder of the Suzie King Taylor Center, Savannah GA

Ashton Rohmer, PhD Candidate, Carter School

Dr. Arthur Romano, Associate Professor and Director of the Program on Urban Peacebuilding

Dr. David Ragland, Co-Founder and Co- Executive Director of the Truth Telling Project, Director of the Grassroots Reparations Campaign, Lecturer at Harvard Divinity School

2:00 PM - 3:20 PM: Virtual Reality “VR for Good” at the United Nations


Format: Virtual 

Host: Raju Bhatt

Sponsor: Al Fuertes

Presented by: Global Mediation Team

The United Nations has taken a groundbreaking approach to invoke empathy and inspire action by harnessing the power of Virtual Reality (VR) technology. Through immersive experiences, the UN aims to transport viewers to the frontlines of global issues, providing a firsthand encounter with the challenges faced by marginalized communities worldwide. By donning VR headsets, individuals can step into the shoes of refugees fleeing conflict zones, witness the devastating effects of natural disasters, or explore the daily struggles of those living in extreme poverty. These emotionally charged encounters evoke a sense of empathy that traditional media formats often struggle to achieve. As a result, VR serves as a powerful tool for the UN to connect people on a personal level, compelling them to take meaningful action and advocate for positive change. This innovative approach to storytelling has the potential to revolutionize the way the world perceives and addresses pressing global issues, forging a path toward a more compassionate and empathetic global community.  Join us for inspirational new developments and be inspired to join the action.


Raju Bhatt, CEO Global Mediation Team and VRAR Association “VR for Good” 

Al B Fuertes, Professor GMU

Julie A. Gregory, Protecting Civilians and Human Security at The Stimson Center & Author of “Virtual Reality and the Future of Peacemaking”

Martin Waehlisch, Leader United Nations DPPA’s Innovation Cell

Daanish Masood Alavi, Technologist United Nations DPPA’s Innovation Cell

2:30 PM - 4:00 PM: Intentional Listening


Format: In Person

Host: Sarah Ahmed Atif

Presented By: Mason Ombud’s Office

A workshop on intentional listening followed by breakout sessions using GROK cards and other team activities. Intentional listening is essential for understanding and coexistence. “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand. Most people listen with the intent to reply” Stephen R. Covey. This workshop will create space for learning about the importance of listening, intentionality and values framework. We will have an interactive presentation followed by hands on GROK card activities in small group settings. This event will bring a practical perspective of conflict navigation and resolution. Participants will be able to witness the power of listening with humility and human connection. 


Kimberly Jackson Davidson, University Ombudsperson

Sarah Ahmed Atif, Program Coordinator



Format: Virtual 

Host: Irfan Khan

Sponsor: Susan Allen

Presented by: SABAWON Organization

An inspiring and life-altering talk, "EMPOWERING PEACE: TEACHING THE PATH TO HARMONY" explores the skill of bringing harmony to one's own life and to the world around them. At this meeting, we will discuss methods that have proven successful in promoting peace and resolving issues amicably. This event, taught by seasoned peace educators and facilitators, will provide attendees with the tools they need to become agents of good change in their communities. We will investigate the foundational ideas of peacebuilding and analyze how they might be implemented in different settings via lively conversations, challenging tasks, and relevant examples. In this course, we will investigate the meaning of peace in many circumstances, from the individual to the international level. Participants will examine the transforming potential of peace and acquire insight into the roots of conflict. We will look at real-world methods for resolving problems without resorting to violence, with an emphasis on listening, empathy, and communication. Participants will gain knowledge about conflict resolution strategies and communication skills that foster mutual comprehension, forgiveness, and long-term peace.


Irfan Khan, Program Manager (Community Development & Social services) at SABAWON, PhD research Scholar at the institute of Peace & Conflict Studies (IPCS), University of Peshawar, Pakistan

Cristina Cabrejas-Artola

Artola is the International Relations and Mediation Consultant at IPD. Her areas of expertise include foreign affairs, international trade and conflict resolution. Before joining IPD, Artola worked as a Conflict Resolution Consultant in South East Asia, following her MA in International Relations at Middlesex University (UK). Artola’s main achievements derive from her experience in international business working as a Senior Exports Manager in the Middle East for over 20 years. She also studied MA in International Business at Wollongong University (Australia) and European Politics at West Kent College (UK). All along her professional career Artola has upheld strong focus on peace education and conflict resolution in countries fraught with political instability. Artola is now specializing in UN Peace Studies.