By Jennifer Cochran
Scholars, educators and activists gathered at Ohio University this weekend to search for peaceful solutions to violent conflict in Southeast Asia at a workshop titled "Beyond Violence: Developing Rationales for Peace." The workshop is the second in a four-part series sponsored by the United States Institute of Peace and Ohio University's Center for Southeast Asian Studies.
Since the 1960s, the center has been working to address the issues of violence and conflict which have gripped Southeast Asia, similar to other parts of the world. The center is now participating in three federally funded projects addressing conflict issues in Indonesia.
Drew McDaniel, director of Southeast Asian Studies, pointed out the importance of the workshop topic in light of current events. "The changing global political environment has underscored the importance of resolving conflict, because disturbances anywhere in the world have the potential to spill over into other regions," he said. "We now see clearly that events in Indonesia have a direct impact on U.S. interests. Moreover, there is the humanitarian dimension of peace-making."
The workshop addressed three questions about violence in Southeast Asia: how it has been handled, how it is being handled today and how it can be dealt with more effectively in the future. "Beyond Violence" combined plenary sessions with break-out groups in which participants addressed specific types of conflicts and approaches to resolving them.
According to Alan Tidwell, program officer for the Education Program at the United States Institute of Peace, the workshop helped enhance the understanding and teaching of conflict resolution. "We are interested in collaborating with OU in a longer term project aimed at creating a deeper understanding of how violence ends?we hope to encourage scholarship and debate amongst academics and practitioners on how violence ends," he said.
Jennifer Cochran is assistant director for communications and graduate programming with the Center for International Studies.