Point of View Opens—A Place For Conflict, Conversation, Transformation

George Mason University’s School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution’s new international retreat and research center, Point of View, is intended to serve as a neutral location where representatives of those in conflict can meet for conversation, reflection and, perhaps, reconciliation.

The retreat will be dedicated by state and university officials at noon Wednesday, April 6, at 7301 Old Spring Road in Lorton, Va.

“Point of View allows us to bring people together in ways that aren’t possible in our usual settings,” said Juliette Shedd, the associate dean and professor at the School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution who has been overseeing construction at the center. “The nature of the place allows connections and conversations that promote conciliation and healing.”

The $6 million facility was built on property donated to George Mason’s School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution by Edwin and Helen Lynch. Point of View is located on 120 acres on the largely undeveloped shores of Belmont Bay off the Potomac River, in the heavily wooded region of Northern Virginia known as Mason Neck.

Its 9,263 square feet include meeting rooms, offices, a digital library, outside areas for informal interactions and oversized corridors for informal meetings. Copious windows provide views of the water and occasional flyovers by nesting bald eagles.

Future plans include construction of cottages for visitors and fellows.

“We often talk about Point of View as a place where the hard work of peacebuilding and conflict resolution takes place—the ‘civilian Camp David’ metaphor,” said Kevin Avruch, dean of the School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution. “It is as well a place where training, teaching and learning occurs. And it is a place for scholars and researchers to gather, and through their individual and collective work expand our knowledge of the causes and dynamics of intractable, deadly conflicts.

“All three—engagement, learning and research—comprise our mission and our vision for Point of View.”