In early 2014, several peace workers with connections to the Peace Studies Master programs at Universitat Jaume I in Spain, University of Innsbruck in Austria, and Centre for Dialogue, La Trobe University in Australia, began a collaboration that blossomed into the formation of what is now known as the DEEP Network. One of the primary initiators of the project, Professor Alberto Gomes, coined the acronym DEEP, which stands for Dialogue, Empathic Engagement & Peacebuilding.
Alberto Gomes is an emeritus professor of anthropology at La Trobe University in Melbourne, Australia, University of Malaya (Malaysia), University of Helsinki (Finland), Universitat Jaume I (Spain) and at the University of Innsbruck. His anthropological work and publications are focused on the Indigenous peoples of Malaysia, the Orang Asli, from which he learnt to value peace, nonviolence, conflict transformation, empathy, equality, and ecological sustainability.
The network has grown rapidly to include people from all parts of the world and is today a vibrant global community of peace workers, researchers and policy makers committed to creating a sustainable and peaceful world. Members of DEEP, who refer to themselves as “Deepsters,” work within several communities across the globe. DEEP brings together young people wanting a better future for humanity with experienced older people who seek to change the world. It is a young network in terms of existence.
DEEP believes that there are rich lessons to be learned from indigenous and marginalized communities in dealing with the myriad global problems eg. ecological degradation, violent conflict, racism, inequality or alienation. We believe that peace is the norm in human life and the violence taking place in several parts of the world, an aberration. We also believe that conflict is a natural aspect of human interactions as people do not always see eye to eye and for this reason, we are committed to transforming potentially negative conflicts before they spiral into an ‘eye for an eye’ type of violence. Most of all, we strive to build a nonviolent and ecologically sustainable world where people everywhere are able to live a good life ‘buen vivir’ (good living) in peace.
All in all, the mission of the DEEP Network projects is to promote diversity and intercultural understanding, bridge divides, foster empathy, empower marginalized voices and communities, transform conflict before it escalates into protracted violence, and facilitate policy innovation.
Marc Granell Nebot designed the DEEP logo. DEEP draws its inspiration from nature and from people who are close to nature. The symbol of DEEP is the tree of life. As Marc Nebot explains: The tree of life is a symbol of life renewing itself, transforming itself. Peacefully. It is a symbol of dynamic connection with our surroundings a circle of vitality. Yet the tree in itself is not perfect. It is as beautiful in its imperfect aspects as the imperfect peaces are. It grows from inside the earth and stands tall, like nature´s poetry dancing to the winds. Its branches and nodes expand, each on its own rhythm, always in relation to the others, always deeply interconnected. Beyond the mere image of a tree, it is an abstract symbol that invites reﬂection. With its branches and roots connected in a circle, it offers a subtle reference to the tree of life. In the under part of the circle, in yellow, the lines are closer and follow a more uniform direction, making reference to the roots, just like the basis of a tree must be strong. As our tree grows and reaches out, it gains blue tones, and the lines ﬂow more freely, in the shape of branches and nodes, towards the sky. We can interpret it as a mosaic. A pangaea made of different territories that make a whole, no matter the proportions and shape. It is at the same time a tree and a map. It is a life map with multiple destinations and directions, a map of connections that reﬂect the DEEP Network.
Activities and Projects
The DEEP Network has established nodes, otherwise known as local action groups, in cities around the world. It currently has nodes in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia), Barcelona (Spain), France, Germany, Kabul (Afghanistan), Melbourne (Australia), Mexico City (Mexico), Multan (Pakistan), Nagoya (Japan), Nairobi (Kenya), San Francisco (USA), Seoul (South Korea), Switzerland, Tangier (Morocco), and Yogyakarta (Indonesia). The network coordinators are currently negotiating with several scholar-activists in countries not covered yet to set up new nodes.
Working collaboratively, the DEEP Network organizes intercultural dialogue, elicitive conflict transformation, and peacebuilding projects within their own and in partnership with marginalized communities. It undertakes research that enhances understanding of conflict and peace practices and leads to innovative policies and programs. Further, it conducts training and education geared towards capacity building for individuals, organizations and communities in dialogue, conflict transformation, and peace work. It also liaises with other institutes to continually add depth and breadth to our understanding and activism. Finally, it builds global initiatives for change.
The various nodes are involved in activities and projects that vary according to the needs of the respective countries. Thus, for example, DEEP Mexico facilitates Peace Education workshops on themes such as non-violent communication and reconciliation, similar to its sister Node DEEP Arab Nations, which organizes Children’s Peace and Arts Projects in various countries across the Arab Nations. As for DEEP Switzerland, it is currently fundraising for its Eco-Peacebuilding Project in Kyrgyzstan. As one of its core members (Aimeerim Tursalieva) is originally from Kyrgyzstan and has a broad amount of experience with conflicts for natural resources, working with both the local communities as well as the mining companies. DEEP Switzerland wants to invest in the non-violent cooperation between the local population and the mining companies to foster a socio-peaceful and environmentally sustainable future for the region. DEEP France works in the area of Calais, creating space for encounters while collaborating with different organizations on the question of dialogue, empathy and mutual understanding with migrants, asylum seekers, and refugees around Calais. DEEP Germany organizes theatre performances, dinners and football matches with groups of refugees as part of its Fostering Empathic Engagement and Intercultural Dialogue in Hamburg. It also conducts “Educational Project Days for the German School in Madrid” focused on the topic of “Peacebuilding and Sustainable Development”. DEEP Melbourne organizes Peace Drinks, a regular informal networking event for peace workers, activists and academics and anyone else interested in issues related to Peace. The aim is to learn about what others do in and around Melbourne and how we can connect, share ideas, collaborate and best support each other.
We are an inclusive and collaborative network. We welcome new members who share our vision, aspirations and values.
Additionally to the various nodes around the world, the DEEP Network also consists of independent members and affiliates, who either are located in a country with not yet an established node, or are experts in a specific field and assist the network and its members with their expertise.
One such member is Rebecca Tremblay (La Trobe University), she founded the Puppeteaching Project in Canada in 2014 and has been on tour in various places across the americas. The idea behind is to perform educational puppet shows for kids about important topics that affect their lives, while also helping to build their self-esteem. What makes puppets so special is their ability to break down barriers and reach children in a way that adults cannot.
Through its various members and their respective work across the globe as well as its grassroots approach, the DEEP Network offers unique opportunities for collaborative projects and research in the field of peacebuilding, alternative development and conflict transformation.
Two collaborative projects in the pipeline are the Tales of Diversity: a project aimed to collecting stories and myths related to peace and nonviolence from various cultures to be shared in print for young children and general audiences, in storytelling events or as radio and theatre plays. And the Kabul Peace School, of DEEP Kabul and the Melbourne Free University (MFU), building an online peace education project focused on Afghani youth, creating a radio show/podcasts site as a medium to promote peace and diversity.
Funding and support
We are an inclusive and collaborative network. We welcome new members who share our vision, aspirations and values and if you wish to support us or make a donation, we would love to hear from you. We need all the help we can muster in our quest for a more sustainable and peaceful world.