Dr. Louis Kriesberg is a visionary who will be making his first visit to Winnipeg next week as the lecturer for the St. Paul’s College University Affiliation Lecture, hosted by the Arthur V. Mauro Centre for Peace and Justice.
The title of his lecture, ‘The Constructive Conflict Approach with Applications to Contemporary Conflicts’, will examine how large-scale conflicts can be transformed and resolved constructively as illustrated by varying effectiveness in American efforts to counter terrorism and to mediate the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Dr. Kriesberg is a Professor Emeritus of Sociology, Maxwell Professor Emeritus of Social Conflict Studies at Syracuse University. As a pioneer in Conflict Resolution, Dr. Kriesberg founded at Syracuse University, the Program on the Analysis and Resolution of Conflicts – one of the first academic programs of its time in North America.
This followed years of teaching and publishing in the emerging fields of peace studies and of conflict resolution. He had earlier also engaged in political activism and was one of the founders of the Syracuse Area Middle East Dialogue Group (SAMED), which advocates and works towards peace in the Middle East via dialogue.
After more than 30 years working in the field, he is still a leading figure in the area of Conflict Resolution. He continues to write, lecture and consult regarding conflict resolution, the Middle East, American foreign policy, and peace studies.
I spoke with Dr. Kriesberg to ask him some questions about his work and his upcoming trip to Winnipeg:
Q: Though it may be a big topic, what is ‘the constructive conflict approach’?
A: The approach is based on the evolving fields of peace studies and conflict resolution, stressing how to conduct conflicts so as to maximize their benefits and minimize recourse to destructive violent methods and destructive consequences.
Q: How do dialogue meetings contribute to transforming conflicts?
A: It is a process that can engage all kinds of people in peacemaking and peacebuilding when they are in relations strained by differing religious, ethnic, or ideological identities. It helps people achieve fuller mutual understanding and empathy when that is inadequate.
Q: What have you learned most about recent global conflicts, such as the Arab Spring or the civil war in Syria?
A: I have learned again about the power of nonviolent action and the often self-defeating consequences of resorting to violence. I have also learned again of the importance of analysis and preparation, of discipline and timing to effectively wage a conflict constructively.
Q: What are you most looking forward to seeing or doing in Winnipeg?
A: Seeing old friends and experiencing a part of Canada that I have not visited before. I will be making a visit to the Canadian Museum for Human Rights to learn more about peacekeeping and human rights in Canada, and will be meeting with members of the Arab Jewish Dialogue group.
Q: Do you have any connections to folks working in the field in Winnipeg?
A: Yes, with colleagues at the University of Manitoba, who did their graduate studies with the Program on the Analysis and Resolution of Conflicts at Syracuse University, in Syracuse, New York.
The St. Paul’s College University Affiliation Lecture takes place on Monday, March 17 2014. It will be held in the Fr. Jensen Theatre, room 100 in St. Paul’s College (70 Dysart Road at the University of Manitoba). The event is free and open to call.