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Graduate School of Professional Psychology
trauma and peacebuilding

Trauma and Trust:

Peacebuilding in Ruptured Social Systems

October 13-15, 2016
Pre-Conference (optional) October 12
Joy Burns Center, University of Denver

View conference agenda (preliminary, subject to change)

Submit an Abstract for Poster Sessions:

Posters will be accepted on a rolling basis before October 1.

From Baltimore to Baghdad, peacebuilders and trauma professionals engage in complementary but often unintegrated work which falls short of optimal change. Practitioners knowingly or unknowingly impact multiple systems.  Might a sustainable systemic approach minimize unintended consequences of interventions and in some way facilitate success? October 13-15, 2016, The University of Denver will host a conference to consider how a systems approach to Trauma & Peacebuilding could inform the international and domestic work of practitioners from multiple fields.

Peacebuilding in contexts of group trauma invites consideration of the following central conference themes: neurobiology of trauma and relationships, social cohesion and attachment, and empathy and social perspective taking. A particular focus will be on how the systems approach allows us to cross levels and boundaries from the individual to society, taking into account the multiple stories at play in the spaces inhabited by both trauma and peacebuilding practitioners.

Additional themes will include:   Crossing Levels and Boundaries | Challenges to Systemic Approaches | Past Successes and Failures | International and Domestic Contexts | The Social Construction of Peace and Trauma Narratives | Police-Community Relations | Individual and Societal Functioning Post-Trauma | Revisiting Assumptions about Informed Field Practice 

One-Day Pre-Conference Workshop with Bob Williams:

"Applying Systems Thinking to the Design and Evaluation of Peacebuilding and Trauma Interventions"

Peacebuilding and trauma interventions invariably occur in complex situations. In complex situations there is often so much going on, so many unknown dynamics and perspectives that designing an intervention is fraught with difficulties and uncertainties.

And then comes the issue of assessing whether it has done good or harm – and if so from whose point of view. Ideas from the systems field won't solve these problems; you can't consider everything from every point of view and every possible outcome. However, concepts and tools from the systems field can help reduce some of the uncertainties and enable more robust and flexible designs and appropriate evaluations.

The workshop will introduce some basic systems ideas and associated tools that will help peacebuilding and trauma workers to:

  • Map more clearly highly complex situations
  • Assess the key ways of understanding those situations, and the assumptions underpinning those perspectives
  • Take critical decisions on the basis of those understandings

The focus will be on the design and evaluation of interventions.  However, since design and evaluation are two key elements in any adaptive management process (design, do, assess, redesign, etc.) the tools and learnings can be applied to any aspect or stage of peacebuilding and trauma work.

The workshop will be practice-based, using examples supplied by participants within the workshop.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016
Price for Pre-Conference:

Registration is open!


Keynote Speakers:

Monnica Williams

      Monica Williams 

 David Anderson Hooker

     David Anderson Hooker

 Judith Herman

         Judith Herman

Bob Williams

         Bob Williams 

 Teresa Betancourt

        Teresa Betancourt


Co-hosted by the Graduate School of Professional Psychology's International Disaster Psychology Program and the Josef Korbel School of International Studies' Conflict Resolution Institute at the University of Denver, and SalusWorld