The CPDS organises regular seminars, workshops, guest lectures, a film series and a book club.
It supports an annual study trip for MA students for tours of political sites and museums and workshops with ex-combatants and organisations engaged in conflict resolution in Derry or Belfast.
It selects two PhD candidates for positions as centre fellows for the duration of their studies, and for up to a year of post-doctoral research, providing desk space and library and email access. PhD students can also apply to the centre for modest support towards field research.
Spring Semester 2012:
In April, Dr Rachel Ibreck, Lisa McInerney and postgraduate students, mainly from the MA in Peace and Development and MA in International Studies, travelled to Northern Ireland. The trip was a chance to learn first hand about the peace process from former combatants, survivors, communities and institutions affected by the Troubles. We are immensely grateful to all the groups and individuals who welcomed us, including the Museum of Free Derry, Coiste, Cooperation Ireland, Tides, the Apprentice Boys of Derry and the PSNI. Through tours of political sites, panel discussions and Q&A sessions, they gave us a rich insight into the impact of past violence, and diverse perspectives on reconciliation, justice, peacebuilding and security in the present. In a follow up discussion, students recalled being inspired by stories of personal and institutional transformation, but were also struck by the persistence of fear and division symbolised in the peace walls on the Falls and Shankill Roads in Belfast. For further impressions of the trip, please read reflections by MA in Development students Jenna Stroly and Colin Brennan.
Also in April, a cluster of CPDS members came together to deliberate on the questions posed by Irish Aid as part of a review of its 2006 White Paper. The group reflected on the paper, and on points arising from the public debates around the review. These discussions were the basis for a CPDS submission to the review, focusing on the challenges of the current context for development aid and ways of responding to these.
The CPDS film series was launched on 24 April, with the screening of Shooting Dogs, a powerful based-on-fact film, following John Hurt's priest and Hugh Dancy's idealistic young teacher as they watch bureaucracy, institutional racism and generations of hate lead to mass murder in Rwanda.
May was a busy month at the CPDS. On 2 May, we welcomed Dr Alex de Waal, Executive Director of the World Peace Foundation at the Fletcher School, Tufts University for an Agenda Setting lecture for the Department of Politics and Public Administration on 'Contesting Visions of Peace in Africa: Darfur, Ivory Coast, Libya', focusing on the development of African Union's approach to conflict resolution, and drawing on his own experience as a mediator in African conflicts (see Working Paper). James Wanki, PhD candidate in PPA and Marie Curie Fellow at Bradford University, represented the CPDS as discussant for the lecture, providing an elegant commentary based on his own research on West African peace and security architecture.
As Director of CPDS, Prof. Tom Lodge commented: 'It was everything an Agenda Setting Lecture should be: topical, thoughtful, analytically interesting but also accessible, and evidently addressing issues that appealed to a wide cross section of the people who live and work in this city.' The lecture was well attended by staff and students from UL, including Vice President Research Dr Mary Shire, as well as by representatives from Irish Aid, Christian Aid and other NGOs, producing a lively discussion. Also contributing to the event were Jacques Lobe of the New Communities Partnership and other members of the local African community, who attended the lecture following on their participation in a workshop earlier that afternoon, led by Chris McInerney with MA in Development students, Jenna Stroly and Jennifer Ryan.
Also in May, we were pleased to receive news of the award of Irish Aid/HEA funding to investigate ‘How systems of public administration may help or hinder effective HIV/AIDS policies’ to a team in the Department of Politics and Public Administration together with colleagues at the University of Makerere, the University of Dar es Salaam and the University of KwaZulu-Natal.
Later the same month, the CPDS hosted peace activist Maxine Lacousta-Kaufmann, Canadian and Israeli peace activist and writer to speak about her book, 'Refusing to be Enemies - Palestinian and Israeli Nonviolent Resistance to the Israeli Occupation', Ithaca Press, based on interviews with 100 Israeli and Palestinian activists. It was a fascinating insight into non-violent strategies in practice and an opportunity to engage with others with closely related interests including PhD candidate Caitlin Ryan, who had recently returned from fieldwork in Palestine, as well as Edward Horgan of the Irish Peace and Neutrality Alliance.
In June, Ciara McCorley and Rachel Ibreck were among the organisers of a workshop on ‘Social Movements and Political Change in Africa: Shaping Technologies for Change’, funded by the Irish Social Sciences Platform, which brought international participants from Kenya, South Africa, France, Sweden, Italy and the US to the university on 14-15 June 2012. We thank the ISSP for the generous funding, which led to a successful and stimulating workshop. Participants commented positively on the rare opportunity it provided for in depth discussion of their work and are now collaborating to produce a journal special issue.