The Conflict Resolution Institute (CRI) hosted its second annual Gala on May 12, 2006, in the elegant Gottesfeld Room in the Ritchie Center on the university campus. The near sold out event included community supporters, CRI Advisory Board members, faculty and staff, current MA students, prospective MA students, and alumni. The evening began with an inspirational presentation by CRI Advisory Board member John Paul Lederach, internationally renowned expert on peacebuilding and reconciliation and author of The Moral Imagination: The Art and Soul of Building Peace (2005), The Little Book of Conflict Transformation (2003), The Journey Toward Reconciliation (1999), Building Peace: Sustainable Reconciliation in Divided Societies (1997), and Preparing for Peace: Confliction Transformation Across Cultures (1995). The after dinner program featured welcoming remarks by James Moran, Vice Provost of Graduate Studies and Research, followed by recognition and acknowledgement of Institute faculty, Advisory Board members, staff, and recent graduates.
Three awards were also presented: the second annual "Best Thesis" award presented by the Institute for the best MA thesis completed in 2005, and two recognition awards to outstanding students from the two student organizations SCORE and CRGSA. The evening ended with the unveiling by the CRI Board of Advisors of the Institute's new branding and visioning posters. Widely known for his pioneering work on conflict transformation, John Paul Lederach is involved in conciliation work in Colombia, the Philippines, Nepal, and Tajikistan, plus countries in East and West Africa. Lederach drew upon his experiences to vividly illustrate his remarks at the Gala where he told the stories of three individuals from Colombia, Ghana, and Nepal who each facilitated great change and achieved conflict resolution in their respective parts of the world.
Lederach implored Gala attendees to support conflict resolution at all levels in society, and to especially support the Institute's students, who carry the torch
into the future. He told students to not hesitate when asked by friends and family what they are studying, to be proud and to demonstrate the importance of the conflict resolution field.
The Best Thesis award, and its accompanying monetary prize of $500, was presented to Maureen Mayne by last year's recipient, Patricia Whitehouse. Maureen's thesis, entitled "The Challenges and Contradictions of the National Identity Reconciliation Process" explores the challenges and the limits of National Identity Reconciliation in three case studies in Rwanda, France and Chile. Maureen, a native of France, currently works for the United Nations in New York. In her acceptance remarks, Maureen said that working at the United Nations has given her an opportunity to meet first-hand some of the individuals who survived the conflicts she wrote about in her thesis.
CRI is fortunate to have two student groups, The Society for Conflict Resolution (SCORE) and the Conflict Resolution Graduate Student Association (CRGSA), working to integrate the experience of master's students with faculty, the university, the larger community, and with each other. Each year, these two student groups select two conflict resolution students who they feel have gone above and beyond these goals to receive outstanding student awards. This year, SCORE presented the Brian S. Beck Achievement Award to Jason Gladfelter, past President of SCORE, for his commitment to making new conflict resolution students feel welcome and involved. CRGSA chose Hanh Do to receive this year's CRGSA Award for Student Excellence, for her work founding CRGSA and for serving as secretary during its first year . Jason and Hanh will each receive a one year membership to the Association for Conflict Resolution – the national organization for conflict resolution- courtesy of the student groups.
The CRI Board of Advisors, formed last Fall, recently completed a branding initiative and visioning exercise involving their members, as well as CRI students, alumni, faculty, staff, and members of the community. Carol Alm, Advisory Board Member, presented the newly formed vision and branding materials for the Institute in an official unveiling to cap off the evening.
– T. Thompson