CSPH 5212 - Peacebuilding Through Mindfulness: Transformative Dialogue in the Global Community
The course is based on the recognition that true peace-building requires human encounter through face to face dialogue among people in conflict, not simply the actions of court systems or politicians. This approach is distinctly different from conventional courses or training seminars on peace-building and dialogue which are highly cognitive, problem solving oriented, and focused on increased intellectual understanding of the complexity of the presenting issues. While this conventional approach is important and necessary, it is not sufficient. A more contemplative and mindfulness-based approach is a different way of understanding and responding to conflict and trauma. As an approach grounded in an open hearted moment by moment non-judgmental awareness, the focus is on honoring the enormous healing power of story rather than simply obtaining a thorough intellectual understanding of the issue. Gaining a better understanding of the context of the conflict is important, but learning to work with the energy of conflict and trauma as expressed through what many believe to be the most powerful form of human communication, the non-verbal language of the soul, is even more important in repairing relationships and building bridges of understanding and tolerance between individuals and groups that have experienced intense conflict and even trauma, including former combatants.
Contemplative practice and mindfulness allow one to tap into an inner reservoir of strength, compassion, and wisdom that can foster the deepest expressions of unconditional love, reconciliation, and forgiveness. Contemplative practice and mindfulness provide practical tools to “shift gears”, from ego centered cognitive analysis and assessment to heart centered presence and deep listening that is grounded in a spirit of humility and compassion. In doing so, the deepest level of learning and wisdom is accessed.
This course, which will be highly experiential, will use the Native American circle process that is grounded in the wisdom and practices of the many tribal traditions among the indigenous people of America. The circle process, including use of a talking piece, sets a tone that is very conducive to a more contemplative and mindful approach to peace building through dialogue. The talking circle process for learning and engaging in actual peace building fosters the practice of deep compassionate listening; listening from the heart, rather than the more common active listening and debating the issues at hand. Contemplative practice will be integrated into each class session. Guest speakers representing a diverse cultural range of peacebuilding practices will contribute to the class experience.
This course is designed to provide a basic understanding of the core principles and practices of peacebuilding through restorative dialogue, using a mindfulness-based approach, in the context of multiple interpersonal, community, national, and international settings
At the conclusion of the course, students will have:
- An understanding of the energy, dynamics, and substance of conflict.
- The ability to practice a mindfulness-based approach to peacebuilding within families, among friends, in the broader global community.
- Knowledge of conventional Western approaches to conflict through negotiation and mediation in multiple settings.
- Knowledge of the difference between resolving disputes and building peace between individuals in conflict or within one’s self within the context of intense conflicts.
- An understanding of a humanistic approach to mediation and restorative dialogue.
- Knowledge of the difference between conflict management and conflict transformation.
- An awareness of specific examples of peacebuilding and conflict transformation in response to inter-personal and organizational conflict.
- An awareness of specific examples of peacebuilding and conflict transformation in response to civil conflict and political violence.
- An awareness of how the principles of peacebuilding and conflict transformation that are grounded in non-western traditions can be adapted for use within Western European culture.
- Ability to practice techniques that contribute to peacebuilding and conflict transformation within the context of intense conflicts one is faced with in multiple settings.