Bringing together faculty and doctorate students, the Research Center InnPeace was founded in June 2018 with the aim to provide the first transdisciplinary platform at the University of Innsbruck to encourage a lively exchange. At InnPeace, more than twenty scholars from eight institutes – like History, Ethnology, Psychology, Law, Sociology, Education, among others – meet around research projects, symposiums and dialogues to discuss and co-create transversal epistemologies and methodologies in the research of peace and conflict-related topics. Three research groups and two innovative formats have developed thus far.
The research group “Peace Education in Societies in Transition”
It responds to the need to contribute to the prevention of (re)eruption of violence through the development of new curriculum and institutional capacity, the innovative use of technology for conflict literacy, as well as the acquisition or improvement of teachers’ conflict transformation competences, qualities, skills and attitudes in educational settings in societies in transition.
The symposium brought together research institutions and corporations to share peace pedagogies and methodologies and work towards creating common frameworks for research and capacity building.
Taking full advantage of the international projects and collaboration networks, together with the University of Cambridge, InnPeace members convened the inaugural symposium on “Pedagogical Interventions for Peace Workers in Education” at the Grillhof Seminar Center from the 20th to the 22nd November 2018. The symposium brought together research institutions and corporations in the fields of peace education and science and technology innovation from the University Colegiatura and Ruta N (Colombia), University of Guadalajara (Mexico) and George Mason University (United States) to share peace pedagogies and methodologies and work towards creating common frameworks for research and capacity building.
The research group “Peace Journalism”
As a central concern about how to conceptualize peace journalism from an elicitive approach towards conflict transformation, this research group furthers the investigation on peace journalism from the assumption that journalists are never objective observers but always actively engaged parties in the conflict. Hence, the way stories are produced as well as how the narratives and images are chosen and published have direct impacts on ongoing conflict dynamics, both for the interpretation of conflicts as well as for the possibilities considered as plausible for their transformation. Henceforth, we focus on elicitive peace journalism by tackling ethical and methodological questions of journalism, such as power relations, subject and object positions, the connectivity of image and reality and the question of telling truth(s).
A series of workshops planned for the year 2019 will systematically reflect on the research questions in collaboration with the Austrian association ipsum. This research group’s initial findings will be presented in the 10th volume of the Many Peaces Magazine to be published in Summer 2019.
Research Group: “Body-Oriented Approaches and Arts in Peace and Conflict Transformation”
This research group seeks to understand the potential of artistic and body-oriented approaches in applied peace and conflict work, in didactics and as regards their epistemological and methodological potential for peace research. Based on a process-model of the human being grounded in system theory and humanistic psychology, it is assumed that conflict transformation is relational and concerns conflict workers and parties holistically. Similarly goes for both the experience of peace just as well as for the engagement of the researcher in research or learners in learning. Body-oriented approaches and arts therefore have a special role as they allow accessing a vast range of human experiencing that complement and expand cognitive approaches.
The first activities planned for 2019 include hosting method-workshops to deepen the body and arts’ potential for transformation, research and didactics as well as a writing retreat “Written Through the Body: From Creative Expressions to Academic Texts.”
Innsbruck Peace Lectures
As a successful innovative format, on Wednesday 21st November we inaugurated the Innsbruck Peace Lectures with Prof. Christopher Mitchell, Emeritus Professor at the George Mason University, former director of the Center for Conflict Analysis and Resolution at the same university and Invited Professor at the MA Program for Peace Studies at the University of Innsbruck. With the title “Towards a Science of Peace” and with a full room at the Imperial Palace Hofburg dedicated to the Guernica exhibition, Prof. Mitchell made a case for the scientific study of peace. He reminded the audience of discussions taking place in the early days of the discipline and offered contemporary examples of useful findings clustered around the question of conflict perpetuation.
With this distinguished guest, we gladly celebrated the first of many Innsbruck Peace Lecture to come, to which we will continue inviting prominent speakers to engage in a broader public debate, outside of conventional university settings and with an open spirit of transformative dialogue.
The InnPeace Fellowships represent the last research format developed at InnPeace thus far. On a self-financed basis, we welcome outstanding academics and practitioners who want to conduct their own peace and conflict related research projects and contribute to the overall quality and relationships of our research center. Further, InnPeace members are encouraged to travel to other institutions in order to conduct their own research, engage in exchange with colleagues from other contexts and improve their professional competences.
Ultimately, the different InnPeace activities shall serve the challenge of addressing a wide range of conflict dynamics and peacebuilding questions.
We had the opportunity to welcome the first two Incoming InnPeace Fellows: Laura Villanueva from George Mason University and Claudia Milena Giraldo from the NGO Weaving Territories for Peace – Tejipaz. They used the Grillhof’s Seminar Center incomparable atmosphere and commitment to peace and conflict transformation for a writing retreat. Their work focuses on the grassroots networks’ efforts to build sustainable peace and to reconcile previous adversaries in Granada (Colombia) and will be published soon in the compiled volume Confronting Peace: Local Communities and National Peace Agreements (edited by Cécile Mouly, Landon Hancock and Christopher Mitchell).
In the afternoon of Wednesday 28th November, the fellows engaged in the Research Dialogue: “About the troubles and joys of co-authorship: A collaborative reflection from peace and conflict writers.” They invited an exchange with the audience about the many pieces and many peaces that transform one’s (mostly lonely) academic endeavor of writing when done in team in a collaborative spirit and tackled crucial methodological questions.
Ultimately, the different InnPeace activities shall serve the challenge of addressing a wide range of conflict dynamics and peacebuilding questions, which call on researchers’ innovative, collaborative and pioneer spirit.
- InnPeace: Franz Jennewein