After Elizabeth Welty finished her Master's degree at DU, she had the opportunity to work in Northern Ireland, a place she first visited over 10 years ago, where she interned during summer breaks, and is now the place she has called home the past five years. "I've always been involved and always been interested in peace building and mediation."
So she packed up her bags and started doing training in community groups, schools and churches in topics such as constructive conflict management, how to use meditative communication, how to use different models and methodologies to constructively resolve the inevitable conflicts that we all have.
Her work has focused on young people: "Having kids work together in small groups and talk about issues that are affecting them and what it means to live in a post-conflict society is very rewarding." This work has laid the foundation for what will soon become her doctoral research in citizenship education in divided societies. Yet, continuing her education will not be all Elizabeth is doing for the next few years, for she states she is definitely a practitioner at heart.
Elizabeth chose DU very carefully because she was looking for a Masters program that was both theoretical and practical – something outside peace theory and a standard 40-hour mediation course - neither of which captured her true interests. "I wanted to have the background and knowledge of the different models and methodologies of Conflict Resolution, but I also wanted to be learning practical skills of how to deliver them." Her education has helped her in her graduate school internship with Tides Training in Northern Ireland and beyond.
She became very interested in how these models and methodologies transferred inter-culturally, which became the topic for her thesis. Elizabeth credits the Conflict Resolution program at DU for developing the research and writing skills necessary in her work, which she expected.
What she did not anticipate was how the interdisciplinary nature of the program would provide an invaluable perspective in her work, particularly in schools. "Because I am a practitioner, I look at it from a practitioner's point of view, but I really think that [DU] prepares very, very capable practitioners to go out and actually deal with conflicts, with the wealth of knowledge, theory, models, research and strategies" they develop in their students.
Elizabeth's advice for students or those considering entering the field is to get out into the field to observe and learn. As a student or a recent graduate, you feel you have a lot to contribute, but Elizabeth has learned "just to listen and be present and witness what people are going through [conflicts]...is one of the most important things that you can do, especially as a student ...I've spent probably three summers and nearly five years in Northern Ireland and I am still the learner, I am still the student."
Elizabeth was featured in the Fall 2008 Newsletter.