2. Do No Harm

In this episode, Dr. Gloria Rhodes, professor of peacebuilding and conflict studies here at the Center for Justice and Peacebuilding (CJP) at Eastern Mennonite University (EMU), talks about the field of conflict resolution and transformation. 

Rhodes begins the episode by looking back on her own introduction to conflict-related work, as a fresh EMU alumna teaching in Russia. She tells of how one day, an argument between students came to blows during Bible class. “They didn’t have a sense of interpersonal peacemaking, and I had grown up with that as a Mennonite … they really trusted authority to always be the problem-solvers, the decision-makers,” Rhodes explains. She felt driven to know more – so she returned to the United States to earn her masters and doctorate degrees in conflict analysis and resolution from George Mason University.

 Rhodes says that she, and CJP at large, have learned about self-assessment and acknowledging privilege. “As a white North American female with a PhD and middle income,” Rhodes said, “probably I’m not the right person to enter many situations as the expert, or as the person who might help to bring about change. So I think we all need to be able to ask those questions of ourselves. And I’d say that’s a change that has happened in our curriculum.”

Rhodes sees this as part of a larger movement at CJP to examine not only the technical processes of peacebuilding work, but the bigger picture of how practitioners and educators live out their values. She hopes this examination will continue in the years to come. As a place of higher education, “we have legacies and privileges that go with that, that I think we are in the process of asking hard questions about that, but I think we still have learning to do,” Rhodes says.


Guest(s)

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Gloria Rhodes

Dr. Gloria Rhodes is associate professor of peacebuilding and conflict studies here at Eastern Mennonite University’s Center for Justice and Peacebuilding. She teaches graduate and undergraduate courses that integrate conflict and peacebuilding theory and practice such as personal and professional formation, practice skills, process design and conflict analysis. Rhodes has served as department chair for the Applied Social Sciences and coordinator of the undergraduate program in Peacebuilding and Development, and as Co-Director of the Summer Peacebuilding Institute. She has led study programs in Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, Russia, South Korea and the Navajo Nation. Her areas of expertise include peacebuilding curriculum development and pedagogy, conflict assessment and situation analysis, practice-related research, group facilitation, mediation and process design, enneagram training, and cross cultural education. She holds a PhD in conflict analysis and resolution from George Mason University.


Transcript

 Gloria Rhodes
Um, also I just wanted to know what’s in practice around uh, conflict analysis since I teach that, since that is something I think of, as something of a specialty of mine. I wanted to know am I, am I up to date?

                                                [Theme music plays, and then fades…]

patience kamau               
Hello there and happy Wednesday to you! Welcome back to Peacebuilder – a conflict transformation podcast by the Center for Justice and Peacebuilding. My name is patience kamau, and our guest this episode:

Gloria Rhodes  
I’m Gloria Rhodes and I am an associate professor of peacebuilding and conflict studies.

patience kamau               
Dr. Gloria Rhodes is associate professor of peacebuilding, conflict studies here at Eastern Mennonite university’s Center for Justice and Peacebuilding. She teaches graduate and undergraduate courses that integrate conflict and peacebuilding theory and practice such as personal and professional formation, practice skills, process design and conflict analysis. Rhodes has served as department chair for the applied social sciences and as coordinator of the undergraduate program in peacebuilding and development and as co-director of the Summer Peacebuilding Institute. She has led study programs in Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, Russia, South Korea and the Navajo nation. Her areas of expertise include peacebuilding curriculum development and pedagogy, conflict assessment and situation analysis, practice-related research, group facilitation, mediation and process design, enneagram training, and cross-cultural education. She holds a PhD in conflict analysis and resolution from George Mason university.

                                                [Theme music swells and then ends…]

Gloria  
Good morning!

patience             
Good morning!

Gloria  
Thanks for your invitation to be part of this.

patience             
Thank you for participating and for joining.

Gloria  
Yeah, thanks.

patience             
Mm-hmm! So you worked in radio…

Gloria
I worked in radio when my, um, my, uh, when I was here at EMU as an undergrad, I was in the Washington scholars –– it was then called the Washington Study Service Year and it’s now the Washington Community Scholars Program. And my internship was at NPR (National Public Radio) for a year, and so that got me very interested in radio. Um, and so I wasn’t on the air, of course, then, um, except for … I have to tell you this story. Except for, uh, every year they do one story on April fool’s day, on April 1st, that’s not a real story, and so on that story I got to be on the air and we –my housemates and I in the Washington house– um, we did a story, they did a story on a secular humanism as if it were a religion. And we, they ask us to sing a hymn, so we sang a secular humanist, hymn so to speak, [Laughter], and that was on the air. That was aired on April 1st that year. But, um, when I came back from that experience, then I started looking into, um, what it would be like to be on the air so I worked at the radio station here, WEMC, and then I worked at WMRA, the local, uh, NPR affiliate station. So I was on the air there for probably two or three years.

patience             
Was it still at JMU?

Gloria  
Mm-hm, mm-hm.

patience             
Yeah, yeah. So does it say anything about you particularly that you were, that you would get on air on April fool’s day?

Gloria  
[Laughter] Um, I was totally up for it. There weren’t, there weren’t other opportunities really to be on the air as an intern at NPR. But, um, they, that is the one time that they really have fun doing…and they want to try to catch the, uh, their listeners as if it were a real thing; and so that was really fun. Yeah. Um, the hymn that, that we, they ask us to like just sing a hymn, and so one of our housemates, uh, Craig Snider, uh, took, uh, “God is great and God is good, and we thank him for our food…,” and changed it to, “we are great, and we are good, and we’ve worked hard for our food, by our hands our mouths are fed, and we live until we’re dead, and we live until we’re dead.” And so we sang that as a hymn; it was hilarious! And now I have trouble every time…

patience             
…singing that hymn?

Gloria  
Every time! Even now –– it’s been like 30 years later.

patience             
Yeah. Yeah. Sounds like you had fun. That’s great!

Gloria  
So that’s…when I put on headphones like this, that’s what I think about, my time at WMRA especially, and my [goes low] radio voice and uh…

patience             
[also low] …sultry voice…

Gloria  
Sultry, yeah, announcing, you know, Shostakovitch and Rachmaninoff, and all of that.

patience             
That’s great. That’s great. Feel free to use that…

Gloria  
Oh yes, that sultry voice…

patience             
…throughout the entire hour.

Gloria  
Okay, I’ll try to do that…

patience             
Alright, so um, so what’s your –– what was your journey to EMU? CTP? CJP?

Gloria  
Mm, yeah. good question! I, uh, I came to EMU as a student, undergraduate student and after I finished my degree, I went right into a job here and that’s because I needed to pay back loans, and so I was here, uh, in a position for four years, not related to CJP. It was before CJP existed or CTP, uh, the first iteration, and, um, out of that I was very interested in, I had majored in English and in literature and communication and I had been, uh, also journalism minor, thus my work at NPR and, uh, also a business administration minor, and so then worked here and out of that, I started developing a real strong interest in cross-cultural programming, special education… and so, um, I left my position here to go to, to go to Russia in the ’90s, the early nineties, after the wall fell. And, um, that…the, the reason that I’m telling that story is that, that’s really what turned my attention toward conflict studies or conflict resolution, conflict transformation, was that experience in Russia where I was teaching students who…for whom, they didn’t have a sense of, um, interpersonal peacemaking, and, and I had grown up with that as a Mennonite. And so my engagement with them, really was eye opening for me in the sense that they really trusted authority to always be the problem solvers or the decision-makers. And especially if there was ever a problem or a conflict, it was always up to authority to make the decisions, and so at one point I had a fight in my classroom. It was actually, it was actually a Bible study that a physical fight was happening, and I felt myself unable to respond. I didn’t know what to do about that…like I didn’t know how to intervene in that, and fortunately my other students just sort of pulled them apart and you know, everything was, they all went back to business as usual. But for me, that was, um, really, it was the beginning of, a to transformative time for me because I realized that here I am…and in that particular day I was talking about Mennonite peacemaking, like about the Mennonite, um, sort of the peace church tradition, the commitment to nonviolence and when that’s they, they were having a conversation among themselves. It was, they were from various religious traditions and having…and then getting into a physical fight, and I just, the…even just the irony of that struck me so much. And so I realized “I don’t have the skills that I need to handle when conflict actually happens. I can talk about peace, but I don’t know how to actually handle conflict.” And so when I came back from that experience in Russia, I had only applied to graduate school at UVA for, uh, English literature, language and literature, and I decided to, um, to withdraw that application, and I applied instead to George Mason university, at that time it was the Institute for conflict analysis and resolution. I’d heard about it and I, uh, and I knew of John Paul Lederach, who was teaching here at EMU at the time. And I thought, okay, this, I need to know more about conflict and I’m, um, I’m, I’m nerdy that way –I have to know about something in order to be able to do it and so I wanted to study more.

patience             
So you went to I-CAR?

Gloria  
Mm-hm, I went to I-CAR at George Mason, mm-hm.

patience             
And so then how did you end up at…

Gloria  
Again, a good question. So I had been here at EMU at, I’d been on staff, um, and I had been working in the education, uh, and the business departments as office coordinator, and, uh, after my, after two years of my coursework at I-CAR, it was a master’s degree in conflict analysis and resolution, I was actually recruited to come back by Vernon Jantzi and so I owe being here to to Vernon, and he actually, uh, then was a great mentor. I, um, I came back at the time when we were CJP, at that time, CTP, was beginning to get a couple of grants, um, some of the early grants that, and one of the grants that we achieved was, uh, for, uh, starting up the Summer Peacebuilding Institute. So I was hired to help coordinate that program.

patience             
So how many years have you been here?

Gloria  
Um, I’ve been at EMU for 27 years. Um, I was, uh, it’s hard to even count the number of years I’ve been at CJP. I, uh, my first class, the first class I taught, uh, for undergraduate was in 1988. The first class I taught for graduate and undergraduate together was in 1994. So, and then I came back on, I came on faculty as an instructor at the very lowest level, uh, in 2001. Actually, that’s not true –I led a cross-cultural, an undergraduate cross-cultural to Ireland and Northern Ireland in 1998. So before that.

patience             
Okay. Okay.

Gloria  
Yeah. So then, so for CJP and, and, uh, CTP, I really came back into the undergraduate, uh, after my master’s degree in conflict analysis and resolution, I came back and I was working primarily in the undergraduate program teaching half-time. Um, and I was teaching things like mediation and, um, what else? I forget…there was a class called “Exploring Conflict and Peace,” that’s now that…at that time it was called “Exploring the Peacebuilding Arts.” I taught that for a while, and some others.

patience             
What are you teaching currently?

Gloria  
What am I currently teaching? This year I’m teaching, um, only graduate courses, and so I teach the Foundations for Justice and Peacebuilding I; it’s the first half of the year-long course. And I also teach a course, uh, for the nursing master’s degree program, it’s called, uh, “Skills for Conflict Transformation,” and I also, um, I support practicum students, um, as a supervisor and I teach summer courses in the Summer Peacebuilding Institute also, uh, now “Conflict Analysis” and “Formation for Peacebuilding practice.” That’s what I’m teaching now.

patience             
What’s that –– “Formation for Peacebuilding Practice?” What’s, what’s that about? Analysis is self-explanatory, I think, but…

Gloria  
Analysis is really just “how do we understand conflict?” Um, peacebuilding practice, uh, formation is the idea that we are, if we’re talking about practice and peacebuilding, that we are actually the instruments of our work as, as the people that we, that we bring as who we show up as, right? Our positionality ––that we are the instrument of the work and so we have to know a lot about ourselves, we have to be aware, we have to learn to manage ourselves and our stuff, and so that’s a piece of it. I talk about conflict assessment, I mean self-assessment! So I talk about self-awareness, self-management, self-assessment –– “so what are the skills I need?” “Am I the right person for this job?” “Am I the right person in my identity for what the work is?” That kind of thing. And then self-care and some people call that self-compassion; but “how do I, how do I sustain myself in a job that’s, it’s really actually pretty hard?” Um, and so that’s, you know, thinking about our work in peacebuilding. And then the other half of that course in addition to formation, personal formation is also “what do we do, what is it? What is it that we’re doing?” “What are the processes that we have available to us?” “What roles can we play?” That kind of thing.

patience             
Mm, the asking “If I’m the right person to actually do this?” –– that’s a very, it’s a very, uh, self-reflective question. It takes away the ego quite a bit. How successful is that? In the field especially?

Gloria  
Well, especially! I totally understand the question. I think, I think the essential part of it is to, to have people become aware that who we are matters and that our identities matter in our work and that, uh, you know, as a white North American female, um, with a PhD and, you know, middle income; that probably I’m not the right person to enter many situations as the expert or as the, as the person who might help to bring about change. So I think we all need to be able to ask those questions of ourselves. And I’d, I’d say that’s a change that has happened in our curriculum, I think we didn’t start out –– however many years ago that I started teaching. I didn’t start out asking myself or others that question, but I think we’ve really, um, especially in our current, uh, iteration of our curriculum, we’re really intentionally asking that question of ourselves…

patience             
Mm, it sounds like an interrogation of power?

Gloria  
That’s part of it…

patience             
It’s an aspect of it?

Gloria  
That’s uh, absolutely. So not only identity but what, what, what, um, “what parts of my identity are empowered and what parts are disempowered?” And that that gets into much bigger conversation. And then also “what are the structures that I inhabit and that I have access to?” It’s really about power and influence.

patience             
Mm-hm, mm-hm. Um, you just talked about the curriculum and how incorporating that has been a change, um, what other academic and program changes have happened in your time here?

Gloria  
Here? Um, I think one of the, um, one of the things that I think this is also just in the field of conflict, uh, we call it conflict transformation here, conflict resolution, um, and peacebuilding. I think one of the big changes has been really a move from technical skills around specific processes like mediation or even facilitation, um, into a much, for us here at EMU, certainly, into a much broader sense of “what are we about?” And we’re not just about teaching how to do mediation or how to bring, uh, how to help people reconcile. We talked a lot about reconciliation as a process, but, um, but now more, much more about “how do we help social change to happen in ways that are constructive, not destructive?” And so we’re looking at, you know, what, um, what’s, “what are the problems?” “What are the issues?” “What are the situations of injustice?” “What are the situations of tension in the world and our communities?” Particularly, not in the big wide world, but also like here where we are, like where I am –that’s where peacebuilding starts. And so then, thinking about how, “how can I contribute to the changes that I want to see in my communities or wherever I have access?” So that’s one of the, that’s one of the differences I think that’s, that’s, that’s changing in the world. I was just at a conference where the theme was really looking at justice and peace and, um, and how those two connect and also the tensions between those two; and I’d say that’s a big change! Um, not for us, philosophically and theologically those commitments have always been there for us at EMU, but I think figuring out what our, what our curriculum is and how we teach about peace and justice has been ever evolving, especially as we were uh, as we’re looking at the fields that we’re part of and thinking about teaching for conflict transformation: “how do you, how do you help conflict to be transformed constructively, and how do you help more justice to be present somewhere?” And so I think that, I think we’ve changed quite a lot.

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patience             
You’ve a little bit used the “conflict transformation” and “conflict resolution” interchangeably. What, why do you think uh, CJP uses “conflict transformation” specifically?

Gloria  
Mm [laughter] um, I laugh because when I came here, uh, in the mid-nineties, I had just finished my, or I was, I was finishing up my master’s degree in conflict analysis and resolution, and I was hired, uh, in addition to my, uh, job working as the Summer Peacebuilding Institute coordinator, I was also called communications coordinator or something like that, coordinate communications associate or something –– and my job was to write things like the first iteration of our catalog and to write our outward facing, um, pamphlets. That was before we had internet, right? And so I was, uh, creating pamphlets and you know, just writing about what conflict transformation was and how it, how to place ourselves in terms of conflict transformation in the field. So, um, I think why we called it that in the beginning was the sense –– and I still hold this– um, I think, I mean John Paul Lederach is not the only one who talked about this, but it was because of John Paul being here, his influence and his writing and his thinking around conflict transformation as a process that happens in relationships, that conflict changes the nature of our relationships, many times for the worse in destructive ways, and so he was concerned about “how do we understand that?” And then “what do we do about it?” So descriptive and prescriptive –– “how can we engage in ways that are less destructive, less harmful to people?” And so that has, that has always been part of my understanding of “conflict transformation.” Now I was so interested in this topic, that I decided to, when I went back to graduate school for my doctorate, which was soon after that, um, I focused on that question in my doc… in my dissertation, I looked at “is there a difference between ‘conflict resolution’ and ‘conflict transformation’ in practice?” And so that, that study was also very formative for me in thinking about “what is this work?” “How do we talk about what we do and is that important?” Um, but also then acknowledging that actually people in “conflict resolution” and in “conflict transformation,” whatever you call what you do, people have different definitions, different philosophies of practice and thinking about why they call it something or something else. And so the, the, the outcomes of that dissertation, were really that, um, that people, you know, I was interested in looking at the language that people use because I was, had been an English major and all of that, and so people, some people who I interviewed, um, chose a term “conflict resolution” or “conflict transformation” to describe the whole field. And they were very adamant about that being the term for different reasons, and so a lot of the “conflict transformation” people were talking about that as social change, broader social change, justice included; “conflict resolution” people were talking about um, sort of constructive outcomes, and so we, so “conflict transformation” doesn’t have its own, um, like constructive versus destructive that’s not alone, our definition, that is included in “conflict resolution” as well. So I was really interested in that, and then the, the most interesting outcome of that study was that people use those terms differently. Some people use them strategically, like they say, well, “conflict transformation” is, is the, that –– it’s the reconciliation; it’s the touchy-feely relationship stuff. And the “conflict resolution” is the problem-solving and the negotiating stuff, and so I had this whole category of “strategic people” and then I had a category of “pragmatic people,” people who use any term, whichever term. And so you accused me, no, not accused me, you said that I use those interchangeably, and I will claim that I’m pretty much a pragmatist –– it’s whatever helps people understand what I’m talking about better. And then there’s a philosophical group that use the terms, actually were pretty uncomfortable using either term because of their philosophical stances, but I would put them also in the pragmatic category. But um, so that, so that also, um, goes to sort of identity in the field, and so identity meaning that “how we define what we do is really important in our professional work.” And so um, thinking about us at CTP/CJP, we still talk about “conflict transformation” because it’s important for us to be talking about the transformation that happens through conflict, both the, you know, the, the transformation that is happening and then how can we be, how can we be helpful, how can we be, how can we help move us to more toward, excuse me, “how can we move us toward more justice, more peace in our relationships?” And so that’s still been a meaningful term for me.

patience             
Mm-mm.

Gloria  
Sorry, that’s a really long answer.

patience             
No, I like it. I like it. It helps clarify things –– I mean you wrote a whole dissertation on it…

Gloria  
…I did, I did and it’s available, if anybody is interested!

patience             
Oh, where is it available?

Gloria  
Um, actually I think it’s most easily available through, um, George Mason university’s library. They have it. Um, but it can be found in dissertation abstracts in any database, Library of Congress, wherever.

patience             
Excellent! That’s great.
Um, what do you think is, uh, something that we can uniquely celebrate about the Center for Justice and Peacebuilding at this particular milestone?

Gloria  
Mm-mm, 25 years later? I think, um, that’s an excellent question. I think, um, there are a couple of things I would name. One is that, um, that we have a community of practice, a community of practitioners that have sort of been part of who we are as a school of thought, as a way of teaching, as a way of, of showing up in the world. And by sort of that community of people now, our alums, our, anybody who’s engaged with us through a training here through STAR (Strategies for Trauma Awareness and Resilience) or through the Summer Peacebuilding Institute (SPI), that we have sort of a group of people who share values and share practices and thinking –– and so I think that is something to really celebrate at this point. I’m not sure that there’s such a strong sense of community in other programs. I don’t know a lot of other programs well; I know that George Mason University where I studied doesn’t have quite the same. We do have a sense that, “oh, there are other alums doing work,” but I don’t feel a sense of community in that identity like I do here in this identity. So, that would be one of them. Say another one is, I think we’re unique in a couple of ways and one of them is this focus or intentional conversation about holding justice and peacebuilding in tension with each other. That our ways of, of doing justice, of calling for justice matter in our further peacebuilding processes. So how we treat people, how we engage, how we bring people along is important in our justice work. And I think that’s, um, that’s fairly unique in the world in terms of, um, academic programs that are studying this. So I, I feel like that’s, that’s something to celebrate. It’s something that, um, we’re still working on all the time. Something I still feel, I don’t have the, the, the best answer to yet. And I’m still, we’re still working that out as we go.

patience             
Mmm Hmm. I like how you pointed out that sense of community is something unique about, uh, about CJP. How have you personally experienced community within CJP?

Gloria  
Hmm, yeah –– it may not be unique, but it is something that I think is very, um, tangible here in ways that some places it’s not. It’s interesting. I don’t, for myself, I don’t see myself as part of solely the CJP community, and I think that’s because I’ve been at EMU for a long time, um, that, and I was here in the early parts of my career right after I graduated and then I left to go to graduate school and then I was actually, um, hired back at EMU, but in the undergraduate program, so I was not part of CJP officially. And so I was sort of separate from CJP at the same time; I was still feeling connected and part of the community. And so I think, I think the thing that I gained most from, and the thing that I was excited about coming back to CJP or coming, I was always at EMU, but coming into CJP was, um, the sense of shared values that this, um, is really, um, a good fit for me in terms of my values for not only peace and justice, non-violence, but also faith and that it takes faith expression seriously, it takes, um, um, a lot of the things I’m committed to seriously, and so I can’t, I actually can’t imagine a better place, a better place for me to be, um, than here and so, so that feels really good.

patience             
Good! We’re glad to have you as part of the community. :)
Um, as you reflect on your experience here, so what would you hope for CJP in 25 years from now? What’s your vision for CJP at 50?

Gloria  
Mm. Yeah. Uh, I think one of our, our, um, one of the benefits of being a small program, in a fairly small university is that we can be really, um, agile. We can respond to current events. And I would hope that at 50 that we are still vibrant and, and able to sort of quickly move to, um, generate new programs, new, um, grants or, uh, ways of practicing and that we’re, that we’re, that we’ve, that we’re…I hate to say this cause it means more work for me, that we look a lot different than we do now.

patience             
Mm, in what ways?

Gloria  
Well um, I think that, um, we have work to do on, um, inclusion and equity around identities, um, in the United States, but also what that means for all of our international students, people that we’re working with. So I think we have work to do there. We, that we are, um, just because of who we are, we are in an institution of higher ed., which has its privileges. We’re also mostly white, um, Christian background and, uh, institution and so, um, we have, you know, legacies and privileges that go with that, that I think we’re in the process of asking hard questions about that. But I think we still have learning to do and we have, we have places to go. So I would, I would hope that in 25 more years that we would be much further along on that, on that journey, and that things look different, that our programming looks different, that our courses look different, that we’ve kept up with whatever the new, um, conflicts are going on in the world. And, um, and you know, you see that changing all the time that when I was in graduate school in the eighties, oh, sorry, nineties, um, you know, the big, the big conversation was about ethnic conflict because it was right after the Soviet Union had broken apart and it was, um, a lot of post-colonial conflicts happening all over the place, and a lot of that was framed as ethnic conflict. And I think we’re at a very different place now, uh, in the field and also at CJP and, and so, I would expect that to happen in 25 more years –– that we’ll be, we will just have a completely different understanding of identity and of power and how to, how to share and what we’re talking about, I hope.

patience             
Yeah. Yeah. What are the biggest changes –– you were alluding to changes that have happened in the field –– what would you say the biggest ones have been in your time in it, since you went to grad school?

Gloria  
Hm, yeah, it’s not a very long time. The field’s pretty young still, I’d say. Um, there are, one of the great things is that there are many, many more female voices than, than ever before, and certainly then at the beginning. Um, there are, and so in terms of gender-balance in the field, I’m definitely seeing that in higher ed in general, but I think there are beginning to be more voices, more widening, widening-up what we call this work that we, that we do to be more inclusive, both of ideas and of people. I see that starting, um, in the field, I think for sure than when I was studying, um, I think that we’re talking much more about, about religion, we’re talking much more about, uh, self-identity, we’re talking much more about the importance of culture and I think those were not always talked about a lot in the early days. And I think that’s also why John Paul Lederach was important in those, those, you know, early nineties was he was a voice for saying we must include culture as part of our conversation. I think, I think now even we’re much further along than that, but that, that culture and identity are very integral to what we’re talking about.

patience             
Was it a radical idea at the time?

Gloria  
I don’t think it was radical. I think it was just an, um, it was, it’s messy and I think that it wasn’t part of the original, um, idea for conflict resolution, which was that we can know things about the world and, and the way that, um, state, Nation States work and the way that, um, we make, um, foreign policy happen, and so like the earliest, you know, some of the earliest founders of academic conflict resolution like Kenneth Boulding, what was he was, he was certain that, you know, we have these databases of armed conflicts in the world that we can know stuff. Um, I think that that knowing was more in academia, we’d say more from a positivist approach or from an approach where, you know, things are certain in their, in their –– I’m drawing squares in the air –– and things are knowable, more like the natural sciences, but I think that we’ve, that we’ve also, we’re sort of, that was, we’re sort of postmodern also, uh, in the sense that we’ve really said, you know, “what people –– individual people –– think and do is important, and what people, where people come from and their cultures are important.” And you know, so I think a lot of that has happened over these 20 years. Um, maybe 30, of these 25 for sure.

patience             
Yeah. Yeah. You had mentioned something about the field having more women in it. Um, how do you, how do you think that’s enriched the field?

Gloria  
Mm, interesting! Yeah, I think I began to notice somewhere in the late nineties that more and more of the positions of, uh, administrative, um, like directors of things were more and more women. I think that has opened up, I think it’s opened up a pathway for women to imagine themselves moving toward a future where they could be, um, where there are roles for them in higher ed. and, um, in teaching, but also in, you know, directing organizations and having that be a pathway. Um, I’ve seen many more people, more women getting PhDs in this field and so it becoming sort of a, a legitimate way for engaging in the world in ways that match our values or what, you know, whatever you want to call that. But it’s, uh, I, I definitely have seen a shift from sort of mostly men at the beginning and including my professors and faculty, although there were a few notable females, but now really much more equity on that.

patience             
Are there other forms of diversity that are as notable?

Gloria  
I think it’s coming. Yeah, I think it’s coming. I think it depends on where you look and what areas. So, um, yeah, I was very pleased to see more diversity happening at places like the Association for Conflict Resolution Conference that I was at this year. Um, but I think there’s a, a ways I think there is sort of a, a barrier about, um, higher ed. and there’s a sort of a barrier around professional organizations, professional things, um, for people of color in general. But I think, I think it depends on where you look and when you look at international organizations, they’re quite diverse and so that’s also fun to be part of.

patience             
Of course.
Um, so have you encountered anything in your career, at least within the last 25 years that you are still wrestling or puzzling through? Does that make sense? You know…

Gloria  
…like, like conceptually you mean?

patience             
Yeah.

Gloria  
Yeah. I’ve also, I’ve also had a few big mistakes that I’ve made and so, you know, I still puzzling through those, but, um, I think, I think what I named the, this, this, how to hold peacebuilding as a field of practice, you know, that I, that I consider inclusive of “conflict transformation,” “conflict resolution,” everything else that’s related to people who are engaging conflict in some way. Um, I think it’s still, it’s still a very difficult conversation to have that together with this question about justice and justice seeking. Um, when I was a graduate student, I was influenced greatly by professor Wallace Warfield, who has passed on. He, um, worked quite a bit for racial justice in the United States, and he was very concerned that, um, that peacemaking or conflict resolution in the program that he was teaching in conflict resolution was trying to sort of pacify people or keep things at a status quo and was very concerned about the social justice concerns. And so I think that still a place that I still have a lot of questions. Like how to, how do you bring people along who don’t agree, who don’t agree with that, who, who don’t see the injustices that, that I might see, how do, how do I work with people? Um, you know, a peacebuilding framework would say, you know, I need to walk with and, and, and bring along people who are not seeing equity as, uh, as an end goal, right? And, or an inclusivity or whatever. Um, and I feel like I do that, I try to hold that space, but I also feel committed to justice issues; and so how do you hold those two pieces, um, at the same time? And I think that’s really what we’re all working out together. But I will probably have that as a, as a challenge for my lifetime probably.

patience             
Yeah, it’s a good challenge to have.
You alluded to making mistakes, um, you are human, so what have you found most challenging in your professional life and could you have done it differently?

Gloria  
Mm-hm, mm-hm, well, uh, one of the things I would say that I’ve personally gained from being here at CJP, at EMU in general, um, I’ve learned so much over my life, uh, over my career. And so, you know, I came in, um, with certain commitments and values and many of those are the same, but, but everything else has, has changed and I’ve grown and, you know, just, just the content that we’re, that we’re bringing in and the challenges that I experienced with my colleagues and my students. Um, I have changed very much and grown quite a lot in terms of my learning. And so I’d say that, um, that my biggest challenges have also been my biggest areas of growth. Right? So learning, um, I, I’d say a challenge for me is always, um, well not always, but one of my challenges has been to find time for practice outside of the community of EMU. And so much of my professional practice has been engaging with students and faculty and staff here around issues of conflict. Um, and if I had to do things differently, I might, I don’t know how this would have worked, but I would, I might have structured some time in to do more practice. I’m able to do that now. I’m doing some, more community practice. Um, but I think that, um, that work is what, how I learn by doing, I learn, by doing. So I’ve learned a lot in the classroom because people bring their differences right into the classroom and I get to practice in that way. But, um, there’s something that’s, um, there’s a different, there’s different things I learned from being in the field or being outside of the classroom. And those are, I think some of those are the places where I’ve learned and where I, I sort of, I think I have humility in the classroom, but where I’ve developed a lot of humility is in actually sitting with people and helping talk through very difficult, challenging problems and questions and, um, and sometimes not getting there with people not getting there to where we were all satisfied with the outcomes. That’s, I’d say that, you know, I have a couple of key, um, key moments in my, in my, uh, in my work that I think back to and think, okay, I don’t want to let that happen again. Where, where a key voice wasn’t heard or where the outcome I thought caused harm to somebody. Right. That those kinds of things. And so I, they don’t keep me awake anymore. That used to, um, but it’s, uh, you know, one of our, our, one of our, in addition to nonviolence and human dignity and human capability, I mean, one of our core, my core, um, guidelines is do no harm. And so it, it, it’s, it’s very difficult to acknowledge and say, yeah, I caused harm. How do I repair?

patience             
Yeah. “Do no harm,” like a physician.

Gloria  
Yeah.

patience             
What are you doing in the community –– you said you are doing more practice in the community?

Gloria  
Yeah. Um, one of the things that I’m excited about lately is, um, for a couple of years I’ve been on the executive board of Faith in Action, which is a local justice organization, and, um, the organization is, uh, works yearly to identify a social justice issue in the community. It’s a coalition of 24, uh, congregations and faith communities in the area. And, um, basically what I feel like my role, my practice is, is to be on the board as to help with analysis, but also to help with facilitation and process, helping us all to have good conversations and decision-making. So that’s one of the things.

patience             
Okay. All right.

Gloria  
Just one of those…

patience             
Just one of those? Another?

Gloria  
Yeah. well, I mean there’s other, there’s other pieces that I’m beginning to pick up, but, um, yeah, one of the things that I, … I will say this, one of the areas that I’m developing, because I teach a nursing class, um, I’ve developed a lot of interest in working with other professionals, uh, like, like nurses, doctors that people in healthcare who, who are professionals but who, um, are also interested in how can they improve their own conflict competency, and so that’s an area where I’m working to develop, um, um, projects and training and education together with some of the local healthcare agencies.

patience             
Ok that, I mean, you just went right into the next question, which is, uh, what are you working on right now or developing?

Gloria  
That’s one, I think, I think one of the things that I would probably do differently if everything were different, um, would be, I would do more of the scholarly practices. I think EMU, CJP for sure is different than a lot of other, um, academic programs, higher education programs, because we really focus on practice. And so my, my interest in being in practice and working is so that I can inform my work in the classroom, but also one of the expectations of faculty in higher ed. is to publish and to devote time to scholarship and writing and presenting, and I’ve done quite a lot of presenting, but I haven’t done a lot of publishing. So that’s my, that’s what I’m working on now is really working to publish. Um, some research I’ve been doing about analysis, uh, and some, uh, work that I’m doing on healthcare and conflict transformation and some maybe I’ll end up publishing something about conflict analysis.

patience             
What’s the research on analysis that you’ve been doing? What have you been encountering?

Gloria  
Yeah, one of the, I did this research this year, this, this year, 2019. Um, I talked to, um, sort of just ending that right now, but talk to 20 practitioners in the world, um, from four different continents, um, we looked at, um, Asia, Africa, South America and North America and a diversity of people, different kinds of practice –so five people each, um, and asking them, um, what are the deep social divides that you’re engaging in your context? What are the kinds of things that are dividing people? What kind of work is being done about that and what is your, how is your work addressing those? And then as a underlying that is then how do you get the information that you need when there’s a deep social divide? When, uh, it’s difficult to trust whether you’re getting adequate information from all sides when, when we are, we do have positions and that we might be coming from a particular side or another, um, and our identities, how do we get the information that we need? How do we build allies, partners in the work, all of that stuff. So it’s been fascinating to hear, you know, what people’s strategies are. I think we can, I think that we here in North America can learn from that, from our colleagues in other continents. But, um, um, also I just wanted to know what’s in practice around, uh, conflict analysis, since I teach that, since that is something I think of as something of a specialty of mine, I want it to know, am I, am I up to date and am I doing what I need to do and are there things I can learn from practitioners in the field? And so part of my desire for publishing would be how do I help practitioners tell their stories? How do I help them to, um, how do we help sort of, um, bring practice more into the spotlight? This is, this work is all about practice, what we do, not just the theory behind it. So that’s something that I’m strongly interested in.

patience             
Mm, have you been talking to people within the United States? I mean, we’re in a very unique time.

Gloria  
Yes, we are.

patience             
How is that manifesting?

Gloria  
And that was one of the reasons that I, that I wanted to, to, um, do this study too. So I wanted to think about the, the social divides that we’re a part of, but also then, you know, how does that compare to elsewhere in the world? And I’ve talked, yeah, I talked to folks in Canada, in the U.S. and in Mexico, and um, yeah, I would say that, you know, it’s a bit humbling because I think the, when I talk about deep social divides with practitioners and I’m talking to people in other social contexts beyond North America, that the kinds of divides that are being named are ones that are causing great harm and lots of death and even genocide. And you know, places where the divides have, have become so divisive, so deep that um, it’s going to take generations to repair. And so that, that also sort of spurs me to say, okay, we need to take action now as a field, as, as people who are interested in working toward peace, that we have the skills, we have, the knowledge that’s needed, and so that feels like a challenge to me and to all of us at CJP and in the field, peacebuilding at large and conflict resolution to, to stand up and, and, and have communication and conversations in our communities about these divides, and how do we, um, you know, how do we work together? We have to, because I mean, we could also be there, right? We are one of the most diverse countries in the world, we’re one of the most populous, and, um, we have to figure out how to talk together.

patience             
Right, right. Oh, may God, help us.

Gloria  
Indeed.

                                                [Transition music begins]

patience             
So we’d love for you to participate in celebrating this 25th year milestone; for details about events and activities in which you can participate, check out emu.edu/cjp/anniversary.

                                                [Transition music fades out]

patience             
Um, what do you do outside EMU, outside CJP that is life-giving to you and that you enjoy?

Gloria  
Thank you for that question. Um, I’m a mom and, um, a lot of my life has been, um, and, and actually even my kids have kind of grown up at EMU and in my, you know, in my life, uh, here, my work life here at EMU and CJP um, so, um, you know, one of the things that I do is, that gives me a lot of joy and is, you know, I take care of my kids and I do a lot of gardening at home and, uh, depends, don’t look at my garden [Chuckles]. The, the, the, what my garden looks like is, is not the point; the point is what I can take from it and that we can eat. [Laughter]

patience             
Of course!

Gloria  
Um, so it’s not very pretty, but, um, I do, I do enjoy, um producing food and putting it away without chemicals and all of that stuff. Yeah. Uh, my kids are both teenagers now and so I’m, I’m beginning to think about what are the other things that I, that I enjoy doing a lot. I enjoy singing. So thinking about, uh, what I want to start doing more of. That would be one. Um, and art, um, I, I do some painting, I do some, um, drawing. So I want to do more of that.

patience             
Oh, that’s fantastic. What kind of painting do you do? Or drawing?

Gloria  
Watercolor is what I enjoy. And so, I’m just dabbling with the drawing, but, um, yeah, I, I need to spend more time doing those things.

patience             
Are you participating in “inktober”?

Gloria  
No, not right now. I’m, I’m, I’m, I’m participating by observing and thinking about, but, and that’s also what inspires me a bit. So I also, I write poetry too, and I, I haven’t done any, I haven’t done much publishing of that, and so that’s something that’s also inspiring. So I keep thinking, well, in some iteration of my life at some point I’ll be less busy than I am now. Um, so that, that will come.

patience             
Oh, you should just insert it, otherwise the time may never present itself…

Gloria  
Well, and I do when, when it happens, um, I have…people laugh at me. My whole desktop on my computer is littered with all these little files that are called “starts of a poem” or “starts of a hymn,” I’ve done some text writing for hymns, uh, or “starts of something…” Right? And so I have lots of those. So I, and I actually do, for people who don’t believe me, I actually do go back and pick those up and, and complete them. And so…

patience             
Oh you should start publishing, share them with us.

Gloria  
[Chuckles!]

patience             
So do you have anything else you would like to add and would you consider singing us out?

Gloria  
Oh my goodness!

patience             
You just said you like singing. :)
So while you think about what else you’d like to add…

Gloria  
Well, I’m not sure I want to sing in public.

patience             
This is not public, this is…no one else, just me. [Laughter]

Gloria  
Yeah, but somebody will hear it someday.

patience             
Yes. Yes…

Gloria  
Oh no, I’m not, I’m not, I’m not a solitary singer. I’m not a soloist. I’m a, I sing in choir.

patience             
All right. Okay. That sounds good.

Gloria  
Thank you, thank you.

patience             
Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Gloria  
Um, I don’t think so. I really appreciate the, I really appreciate the asking because I feel like, um, I’ve been here a long time and there have been sort of waves of, uh, faculty and staff and, and I feel like together with Barry maybe that, that there are like sort of, there’s the knowledge from the before, and there’s the knowledge from the after, and I feel like I have knowledge of the before, but we don’t talk about it very much so I appreciate being asked and um, being able to talk about it a little bit.

patience             
Ah, it’s been a great conversation.

Gloria  
Thank you.

patience kamau               
Thank you for doing it.

Gloria Rhodes  
You’re welcome.

patience kamau               
If you have thoughts and comments you’d like to share about this episode, send them to cjpat25@emu.edu. We would love to hear from you!

patience kamau               
[Outro music begins]
 
All the music you hear on this podcast has been composed by the one and only, Luke Mullet. Our audio-mixing engineer extraordinaire is Stephen Angello. Audio editing support was generously provided by Michaela Mast and I’m the podcast executive producer, audio-recording engineer, editor and host, patience kamau. As you are able, please remember to subscribe, rate and review this podcast so that other peacebuilders may find it. We’ll be back with a new episode in two weeks. Thanks so much for listening and join us again next time.

[Outro music swells and ends]

4 comments on “2. Do No Harm”

  1. Elena M Huegel says:

    I have so enjoyed the second podcast! Thanks, Patience, for putting these together, and thanks to those who are sharing!

    I resonated with many points in this interview. Especially, I would like to mention the challenge of inviting people who are not interested in social justice to consider how justice is also an essential element of peacebuilding. I find this tension in my work… The consideration of justice and dignity has greatly impacted the "church" people in the trauma healing workshops I have lead through out Mexico and Latin America.
    On the other hand, one of the heart wrenching cries of the Mayan people of Chiapas has been "¡Ni perdón, ni olvido!" Neither forgiveness nor forgetting. I have been using the Book of Forgiving by Desmond and Mphu Tutu as an entry point to talk about how one can walk both the path of forgiveness at the same time, demanding justice. Dignity seems to be the fulcrum to balance the two.

    Thanks again, and I look forward to the next podcast!

    1. patience says:

      thanks so much elena! :)

      and yes, indeed, that tension is real, very real…

    2. Gloria Rhodes says:

      Thank you, Elena,
      The intersection of peace (living together with well-being and as little harm as possible) and justice (essential needs of dignity, respect, fairness, equity, contribution, participation, etc.) seems at the core of what we must grapple with as people who want to help constructive social change to happen. In every context, it seems that we must ask not only the peace questions (How are we to live together?), but also the justice question (Who is benefitting?). Then we must do the work of answering those questions in our own contexts. Thanks for the idea of Dignity as a the balancing point between the two, and the Tutu book conversation.

      During a session I was co-leading this past Friday at CJP's Community Day, on Formation as Peace Practice, I was reminded again that justice needs can necessarily become focussed on a single pressing social issue in order for significant social change to happen. And that is always dependent on the context where the need is arising. Your examples help me remember that within that context, where justice hasn't always been present, significant work must be done to address harms, trauma, and related narratives in order to also be working toward more justice and more peace in the present.

      Thank you for your work!

      1. Elena M Huegel says:

        Thanks so much for answering with your reflections! I am going to continue to ponder the counterpoints of justice and peace and the healing place of dignity in our context here…and get some feedback from colleagues and participants!

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