Consultations Launched in Conjunction with SPI

Six of the 35 participants who gathered for a consultation on Strategies for Trauma Awareness and Resilience at SPI 2014 use an afternoon break to walk meditatively around the prayer labyrinth on the hill overlooking the EMU campus. Photo by Jon Styer

In late May, 2014, 35 people from 11 countries gathered on campus to discuss their ongoing work with EMU’s Strategies for Trauma Awareness and Resilience (STAR) program.

It was the first in a new series of practitioner-focused consultations and conferences that will be held each year during the Summer Peacebuilding Institute (SPI).

“We wanted to gather the folks who have been using STAR around the world to get their feedback on who’s using it, what’s working, and why, and make adjustments as needed,” said
J. Daryl Byler, executive director of the Center for Justice and Peacebuilding (CJP). “We’re trying to set up a process of learning from our alumni and to update our curriculum based on what they’re learning as they put these things into practice.”

The event also helped to strengthen the network of alumni from around the world who have been trained in STAR since it was first offered in 2001.

Doing so will benefit both the university and STAR practitioners, as CJP plans to use this alumni network to implement upcoming contract work, Byler said.

One example is a USAID contract with CJP to provide STAR training to 150 staff in Juba, South Sudan. Five STAR alumni will carry out that training, along with two EMU professors.

Byler said CJP plans to begin three-year cycles of on-campus events around several practice areas, beginning with a consultation and followed by a practitioner conference and a writing and research conference in subsequent years.

In 2015, CJP will host a STAR conference as well as restorative justice consultation, beginning a similar three-year cycle for that field. Discussions are ongoing about other potential focus areas for these events in the future.

In addition to helping CJP to improve its academic curriculum and bolster alumni networks, Byler said the conferences and consultations will encourage more writing and research in these areas where CJP has special expertise.

Holding these new events in conjunction with SPI also will add to the learning environment there, as many participants in the consultations and conferences are expected to also enroll in SPI classes, Byler said. He credited CJP program director Jayne Docherty with the vision to launch the new series of events. — Andrew Jenner