Janet Shriberg, Doctorate of Education Columbia University, MPH John Hopkins University, is an Assistant Professor in the International Disaster Psychology program at the Graduate School of Professional Psychology and a member of CRI's faculty.
How did you become involved with the Conflict Resolution Institute?
My dissertation and research has been in the field of Post-Conflict Education, Restoration and Reconstruction, and I worked with The International Center for Cooperation and Conflict Resolution at Columbia. It made sense to continue this work at CRI when I came to DU.
We know you just returned from Sri Lanka. Could you tell us a bit about the work you were doing there?
I was working on child protection issues with an inter-agency NGO to develop psycho-social support systems and to design educational livlihood programs for the young people of Sri Lanka, particularly those between 15 and 24 years of age. The civil war there started over 25 years ago and these young people have known nothing else. Although the war is officially over, there are still over 300,000 internally displaced persons in the north of Sri Lanka who require effective strategies for re-integration. Although this was my first time in Sri Lanka, I have done a lot of work in areas immediately after conflict or natural disasters, most often with the International Rescue Committee.
What else are you working on?
I am working with Denver Public Schools on a development program for teachers who work with refugees. I am also a member of the International Teacher Task Team of the Inter-Agency Network for Education
in Emergencies, which is working to develop minimum standards and best practices for teachers working in areas of conflict. And I consult on child protection programs internationally.
What courses do you teach for conflict resolution students?
I teach a class called "Post Conflict Reconstruction: Rebuilding Education"
which is specifically designed for conflict resolution students.
What qualities or perspectives do conflict resolution students bring to the classroom?
They have an understanding of diverse community perspectives. They are respectful of differences and know how to work collectively and promote peacebuilding -- especially on issues of social justice.
What does the future hold for the field of conflict resolution?
The combination of research with practice and the cross-disciplinary nature of the field is critical to transforming communities. This combination also provides the tools necessary to interrupt conflict in understanding the various perspectives, whether it be on a community, national and/or international levels. In my area of youth development, teaching children how to develop and utilize their conflict resolution skills is also an area of growth. I have seen a lot of movement towards integrating conflict resolution (especially postconflict) into national curriculums.
What career opportunities do you see for current or prospective students?
There are many opportunities in the field of international post-conflict restoration and development -- in education programs, youth development programs, livelihood programs and assisting communities in rebuilding. There are also many opportunities in school systems in the U.S.
What advice would you offer to current students or for those considering the conflict resolution field?
To develop practical skills and to gain experience in a variety of settings around your particular area of interest. The balance of theory and practice will help develop skills necessary to understand context, community and what needs to be done to re-integrate communities. This will be what sets you apart as a candidate for a position.
Assistant Professor Janet Shriberg can be reached at Janet.Shriberg@du.edu
-- Autumn Gorman