Working sessions are organized by conference participants around themes of peacebuilding practice where technology is contributing or has the potential to contribute. Working session chairs may produce a white paper to advance thinking in the field. There will also be working sessions on each of the panel topics, to continue the discussion started with panel presentations. See the conference program for timings of all working sessions.
Supporting deep dialogue and deliberation in socio-technological systems
Download the white paper. Conflict resolution and peace building usually require forms of deep dialogue and deliberation that build mutual understanding and mutual regard among participants. Sustaining deep dialogue can be difficult when stakeholders are challenged by diverse goals, values, or world-views. Numerous face-to-face group dialogue, collaboration, and decision-making processes have been developed to help participants bring the best of themselves to difficult conversations. Some of these methods are being transferred to on-line dialogue and deliberation contexts. We will present some implemented examples, related research, and future possibilities, and then engage the audience in a co-learning dialogue to discover what has been tried and what might be possible in the area of using online platforms to support deep dialogue.
Co-chairs: Tom Murray (Senior Research Fellow, School of Computer Science, Univ. of Mass. Amherst) & Tim Bonnemann (Founder and CEO, Intellitics, Inc.)
Peace for sale
Download the white paper. The session will explore how peacebuilding practitioners can apply strategic communications and transmedia storytelling. It will look at methods and strategies to create campaigns and conduct multi-platform narrative design for peacebuilding interventions, human rights work, trauma healing, and activism. This methodology has been coined “Transmedia Storytelling for Peace” by session facilitator Monica Curca. Transmedia storytelling can use documentaries, graphic novels, audiobooks, websites, etc. It allows the audience to become immersed in the story so as to create a dynamic experience that grows with each additional participant.
Chair: Monica Curca (PAX Manifesto)
Disrupting Warbuilding ICTs
Evgeny Morozov and others have offered compelling critiques of ICTs, arguing that they can enhance, catalyze, and even cause conflict. Moreover, many state and non-state actors may have ICTs of their own that interfere with and surveil peacebuilding ICTs. This working group would openly confront the use of ICTs to destroy and disrupt, and discuss how peacebuilding ICTs can anticipate disruption, or directly counteract destruction.
Chair: Ross Weistroffer (The Fletcher School)
Acting Together on the World Stage: film screening & discussion
The feature documentary Acting Together on the World Stage highlights courageous and creative artists and peacebuilders working in conflict regions, describes exemplary peacebuilding performances and offers tools for the creative transformation of violence. The performances in the film illustrate that theatrical works and ritual are effective resources for non-violent resistance to injustice, for the rehumanization of former enemies and for acknowledgement, remembering and healing in the aftermath of mass violence. The film emerged from a collaboration between the program in Peacebuilding and the Arts at Brandeis University and Theatre Without Borders. The film runs for 60 minutes, followed by a Q&A with the director.
Co-chairs: Anneliese Abney, Inbal Ben Ezer, Jennifer Largaespada (Brandeis University)
Blueberry Soup: film screening & discussion
Blueberry Soup is an extraordinary documentary by Eileen Jerrett about the constitutional change in Iceland following the financial crisis of 2008. The film is a deeply touching account of an eclectic group of individuals reinventing democracy through the rewriting of the nation's constitution. It sits in the epicenter of one of the most exciting movements to happen in our lifetime, the Icelandic "people's movement." Jaws dropped around the world on October 9, 2008 as a small collective of bankers brought an entire nation to its knees. The policies and structures that were previously in place are no longer working and the time has come to reflect and redesign. The film runs for 90 minutes, followed by a Q&A with the director.
Chair: Eileen Jerrett (Blueberry Soup)
Current Challenges: Information Communication Technologies for Human Rights Documentation
Download the white paper. The world is confronted with inaction in the face of mass atrocity crimes. Once these crimes are unleashed, trust among groups breaks down, making it difficult to build or sustain peace. How can we mobilize digital technologies to fight genocidal ideas and individuals online, thereby preventing the spread of hate speech and incitement? Can we explore linkages between forensic science methods and emerging approaches to genocide prevention given technology applications now possible in civil society?
Co-chairs: Kyle Matthews (Montreal Institute of Genocide and Human Rights) & Colette Mazzucelli (Center for Global Affairs @NYU)
Online gaming and peace
This session will explore the experience of Games for Peace, a program that uses online video games as a means to create dialogue and promote openness between Palestinian and Israeli children. In "Play for Peace weekends", Games for Peace invites children from across the Middle East (some of whose countries are officially at war) to meet, chat and play together. Another unique program brings Arab and Jewish schoolchildren in Israel together every week in a Minecraft game world, with the aim of reducing prejudice and promoting dialogue. The project offers a concept that to the best of my knowledge has never been used to promote dialogue in a conflict zone.
Chair: Dudi Peles (Games for Peace)
Polarization, Depolarization, and Data
Polarization -- the pulling apart of two sides and the hardening of attitudes -- is relatively easy to see in many different types of data. Although political scientists have analyzed legislator voting patterns for some time, polarization also shows up clearly in data generated by ordinary citizens. We'll look at examples based on book sales, network structures, social media, and geography. We may be able to use this data to understand the processes of polarization and depolarization, or create metrics by which to evaluate the success of depolarization efforts in the context of conflict resolution.
Chair: Jonathan Stray (Columbia Journalism School)
Creating complex information systems: using ICTs to cover the last mile
In most conflict areas often the infrastructure that allows the use of ICTs is weak or not existent. But it is foremost in those situations that information saves lives and supports local communities in making informed decisions about their lives. In this session we will look at several projects in places like Central African Republic, South Sudan and Niger to explore how traditional media and ICTs can be connected to create systems that bypass the lack of infrastructure and connect communities inside the country and outside.
Chair: Anahi Ayala Iacucci (Internews)
Grassroots cultural innovation in the Philippines
It is unlikely that the solution to any social challenge would come from cultural practice, since contemporary art and design are fields that cater to globalized, deregulated markets that create inequality in the first place. Still, the real power of culture to attract investment and increase a country's soft power quota is difficult to ignore, especially in crisis-happy countries such as the Philippines. Gentrification and strategic essentialism (playing up ones indigenous heritage for economic or other gains) are concepts loaded with negative perceptions, but at The OCD, they are utilized--albeit diluted--with non-judgemental pragmatism. The practice of cultural innovation in our country requires disruptive methods and necessarily subscribes to the creation of a new ethical framework for which there are few tested rules and paradigms. In this session, we will explore projects as case studies and ask participants to put themselves in the shoes of earthquake victims, tribespeople and conflict-city youth before coming up with a set of best practices and ideas for cultural practice in their particular situation.
Chair: Clara Balaguer (The Office of Culture & Design)