On the heels of the scathing Flynn report, it seems to me that at least one option for broadening analysts' perspectives would be to broaden the range of their training and education opportunities.
With this in mind, the two online certificate courses at the US Institute Of Peace (USIP) in Conflict Analysis and Interfaith Conflict Resolution look particularly promising.
In the first place, the courses are sponsored by USIP, "a publicly funded national institution chartered to 'serve the American people and the federal government through the widest possible range of education and training, basic and applied research opportunities, and peace information services on the means to promote international peace and the resolution of conflicts among the nations and peoples of the world without recourse to violence.'" That's a mouthful but what it means to me is that these courses have been designed by some the best peace experts in the world. The Institute, for those unfamiliar with its history, was formally established by President Ronald Reagan and has been in continuous operation since 1984.
In the second place, the courses themselves are online (making them easy to access), well designed, offer a certificate upon successful completion of the final exam and are free. I particularly like the detailed explanations of various "terms of art" within the peacekeeping community, the models the courses use for thinking about conflict and interfaith communication and the extensive cases studies that relate the theory to practice. The courses are clearly introductory in nature but I think they would expose even seasoned analysts to a different way of looking at the issues of conflict analysis and interfaith communication.
One Mercyhurst alum who took one of the courses said it only took a couple of hours to complete but this guy was one of our brightest and already had some experience in the area. I would allocate a couple of hours a day for about a week to get through the material. It will probably take less time but that would be my planning number (particularly with younger or less experienced analysts).
In the third place, it was recommended to me by an analyst who works for the Marines (Thanks, Zac!). I think it was Ralph Peters who said that the secret to understanding the Marines is that as long as you look like a Marine, walk like a Marine and talk like a Marine, you can think anything you want. As much as it pains this old grunt to admit it, the leathernecks do have an uncanny ability to spot interesting opportunities.
All in all, some good reasons to take a look at the offerings and see if they might work for you or your program. If you do get a chance to take the course, do not hesitate to post your comments or observations here.
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
Posted by Kristan J. Wheaton at 10:56 AM