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Center for Dialogue and Conflict Transformation

“WELCOME FROM THE DIRECTOR”

As the African quote reminds us, “if you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” The Center for Dialogue and Conflict Transformation seeks to engage with LCC students, staff, local and international researchers, practitioners, activists, and communities to promote and strengthen a culture of peace both locally and globally.  We invite you to join us on our journey towards building peace.

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Naomi Enns
Director, Center for Dialogue and Conflict Transformation

Purpose statement

LCC’s peace center, grounded in Christian faith, offers opportunities for building bridges of trust, transforming relationships, and equipping communities. The center aims to strengthen, transform, and sustain servant change agents towards the creation of a more just and peaceful world. Opportunities for gathering and growing together strengthens the LCC ethos of non-violent peacebuilding guided by 4 pillars articulated below. These pillars advance our understanding and action towards peace in local and global pathways through dialogue, trainings, and action. The Center is a catalyst for strengthening communities in nonviolent social change, generous hospitality, and holistic justice to promote the greater common good of our society.

Conflict Transformation & Resilience

We work with people to transform conflict on personal, interpersonal, community and societal levels by building bridges of trust, fostering reconciliation, and strengthening resiliency. Through respectful engagement we equip communities to live justly and nurture a sustainable peace. 

Applied Research & Dialogue

We work with students and researchers in the areas of conflict and peace studies and promote events that stimulate dialogue on critical issues that impact our world.  The goal is to invite students, international researchers, and others to connect academic research to practice.

Action, Advocacy & Awareness Raising

We challenge a culture of oppression, promote actions which pursue justice, increase understanding and engagement in human rights issues, and strengthen positive service and citizenship. We use dialogue, learning events and workshops to empower communities to live generously.

Peace, Dialogue & Trainings

We foster an awareness of the cycles of violence and provide tools to nonviolently engage conflict, oppression, and trauma. We use human encounters to transform relationships, expand our understanding and actions toward peace, and nurture health and healing towards a more just and peaceful world.

News and Events

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Grassroots Peace Practitioner Connects with Students

2022-12-13

“It was an atmosphere that encouraged us to engage with the guest speaker and made it comfortable to engage in deep discussion on difficult topics.” - Communication Student, JuniorJohn Stiefel graced LCC campus with his presence the last week of November to speak in classes and hold a discourse session with interested students and faculty on his international experience with INGOS and grassroots peacebuilding. The Center for Dialogue and Conflict Transformation had the opportunity to host his discourse session, “From INGOS to The Grassroots”, which ended up being a very engaging time with many students staying afterwards to continue asking questions to John and each other on the challenges of international peacebuilding.John's dialogue session was held in Neumann dormitory lobby for 15 attendees from multiple majors and years. There were Professors who were interested in John's work who came as well, some of whom had invited John to speak in their classes. One of these classes was Professor Lowell Ewert’s Conflict Transformation and Civic Engagement course where he answered questions about whether theory really works in practice, and engaged in looking critically at imperialistic attitudes where aid to needy communities happens.“John presented a wholistic view of peace, describing how water and sanitation are instrumental in creating a world in which people can live with dignity.”“John presented a wholistic view of peace, describing how water and sanitation are instrumental in creating a world in which people can live with dignity. His presentations on peace as broadly defined, were delivered through the lens of his own experiences working in development in Africa, Middle East, and back home in San Francisco. He also emphasized how civil society builds a network of connections between individuals, and different people groups, and reflected on why the primary reason for poverty is the lack of relationships that work for the poor. His comments tied multiple aspects of peace and development theory together, and painted a compelling picture why civil society matters.” - Professor Lowell EwertIn Conflict Transformation and Trauma Healing with Professor Naomi Enns, he looked at beliefs around homelessness, based on the phrase, “displacement is trauma and trauma is displacement”. He explored the power of narrative and power dynamics while suggesting how internally displaced persons are often victims of  dehumanization and ‘othering’ that occurs towards various unhoused persons. In his own words “Narratives have enormous power to influence the perceptions of a people group or an issue, and therefore a communities response to the homeless”.John is a very engaging speaker and drew everyone into the topics he discussed. In his open dialogue on the journey of community peacebuilding he began with  giving a brief summary of his work and the history of how he came to be doing what he does now with grassroots peacebuilding. His introduction only lasted about half an hour, and was followed by over an hour and a half of intense discussion. Dajana Rrahi a Senior IRD student,  who was very engaged in the discussion said something she learned from John is that, “Working in the grassroots community is more difficult but it is more fulfilling at the same time,” the topics discussed covered a wide range from recognizing your privileged and using it to help marginalized groups be heard, to  the more technical aspects of international work in countries that do not appreciate foreign intervention.Most people in the circle were actively engaged, adding comments and asking questions to each other and John. When the event came to a close, the attendees and John shared tea and continued talking in depth about fieldwork long after the scheduled end time.The Center for Dialogue and Conflict Transformation is very grateful that he was able to come and speak with students here at LCC. John gets to the heart of the matter and the realities that those who engage with peacebuilding and listen to the stories of those suffering from conflicts need to be prepared to do their own soul care. We had worked with John once before at the Rukla refugee camps on the Lithuania-Belarussian border during Summer 2022, and we hope to see him come back again soon to share more of his story and experiences with our community.

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A Ukrainian Scholar Visits LCC: When Religion Heals Intergenerational Memories and Trauma

2022-12-05

During October 2022 our Center for Dialogue and Conflict Transformation at LCC University had the honor of hosting Dr. Julia Buyskykh, a Ukrainian scholar from Kyiv. She is in the Scholars at Risk program and has a 6-month fellowship at Cork University in Ireland.  Students and faculty attended lectures she gave about her work as an anthropologist and her long-term research on pilgrimages at the Polish-Ukraine border. While visiting, she shared her belief that one of the reasons for the present war is the reaction to consequences of unhealed grief, wounds of the past, and “bordering”.  Offering ideas on the healing aspects of pilgrimages at borders, she stimulated questions around the ways of healing communities where harm has existed, building trust in social research, and why silence in those affected matters.Giving various class lectures and reflecting on her uncovered knowledge, she spoke about freedoms and religion in an Ethics class with Professor Tricia Van Dyk. She suggested that when borders are drawn by politicians, they don’t think about the people and community life relations that are being cut apart. Furthermore, she argued that freedom is made through local work in communication were religion influences practices and behaviors. In the class on Conflict Transformation and Trauma Healing with Instructor Naomi Enns, she looked at ways of resolving historical trauma. She consistently highlighted research findings that silence matters, and it needs to be witnessed, as it reveals multiple concerns. Dr. Buyskykh’s research looks at the post World War II period, displacement, and the silence that occurs in 2nd and 3rd generations. She discussed how silence is a  culturally learned strategy. That it is often used in times of adjustment and as a need for self-defense. Yet, imposed silences lead to violence. Through analysis of borderlands and the function of silence, she suggests that “Resettlers {from one side or the other} are seen as unwanted refugees with mixed identities where the wounds of war appear as ruptures in society”. She described how silence by victims is a “habitual strategy of coexistence”. One that  deals with needs of forgiving (and not forgetting), forgetting (and deliberately not remembering) and feigning (pretending not to remember and silencing the past). Looking closer at silence, she remarked how the ways in which silence shows up helps us to understand the trauma of past displaced Ukrainian people living near or at the Polish-Ukrainian border by looking closer at its use. Noting, how “researching silence can offer insights into the everyday experience of living with the legacies of past violence”. In a region where multiple displacements have happened, silence has served as resistance, a way for many to find agency in not taking on undesired identities required by those in power or used as a coping mechanism when the harms were too terrible to speak about. Yet, to get at the stories of truth about historical harms, trust is required from those whose families have suffered. She highlighted that creating a trust-filled relationship between people who are affected by war traumas is very difficult. For her, the only way she felt she could earn trust was by being silent herself;  only listening to them without asking a lot of questions. She challenged us to see the various angles of silence-it’s powerful presence between people in healing divisions where needed at times, yet perilous to peace when it remains.Her presentation, “Borders, Bridges and Belonging: When Religion Heals Intergenerational Memories and Trauma”, offered professors and students an opportunity to better understand how peace is built through pilgrimage on the Polish-Ukraine border. As a  chain of memory, pilgrimages offer a sense of belonging which allow for discovery of silence, its functions, and the power of presence as a witness. It allowed a way to understand the context of her study. She raised the question “What is home?” while discussing pilgrimages to religious shrines which she proposed are a part of healing the wounds of bordering and displacement. Identifying how, engagement with the ‘other’ through religious memorial spaces and community initiatives helps to integrate past harm and make space for positive change. Our LCC community received a glimpse into how the value of reengaging with others to build empathy and make the world a safer place for human diversity is vital. Nini Lekashvili, a freshman shared thoughts after listening to Dr. Buyskykh,  “It was interesting and exciting to learn something that I didn’t have knowledge about  before”.  Later in the week, a coffee meeting was organized where Ukrainian students had the opportunity to sit and enjoy a coffee while casually having a conversation with a fellow scholar about the task of survival, healing, and living lives touched by the pains of war.

Conference "Stories shaping peace"

March 16-19, 2022

Our opening conference will offer 3 strands of critical thinking on the theme of Narratives, the place of storytelling, and their role in healing and building a democratic society. By engaging holistically with our heads, hearts, and hands we will nurture our walk together towards peace.

*COVID-19 Note: Presently the conference is planned to be fully on site and in person at LCC International University.

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