On the eve of the Dublin 2016 CRS conference hosted by the Irish School of Ecumenics, CRS representatives participated in the University of Bradford Peace Studies Symposium celebrating one hundred years since the birth of Mediator and Peace Studies founder Adam Curle. This was follow-up to the 2015 Theory/Practice workshop at the University of Kent undertaken in cooperation with the National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies (NCPACS), University of Otago, New Zealand. CRS was joined by Goran Bozicevic, co-founder and current director of the Miramida Centre, Regional Peacebuilding Exchange in Groznjan-Grisignana (Istria, Croatia) and co-founder associate of the Centre for Peace Studies in Zagreb. In a session entitled ‘From Biafra to Osijek: Curlian Mediation Development’ they traced the work of Adam Curle from his track one intermediary engagement in the 1967-1970 Biafran war, to his subsequent writing and involvement in community-based, grassroots transformative mobilization during the dissolution civil war of former Yugoslavia, particularly in Osijek, Croatia. The role of research findings, the need for documentation and data were highlighted, with an invitation to participants to flag their own current key questions or burning issues in this regard. Highlighted points included:
- Religion, Reconciliation and active peace building
- Rescuing the Pursuit of Knowledge in the Academy (amid growing constraints)
- Cross-generational projects for resolution of conflict
- Innovation in cross-sectoral mediation, bridging commercial and political approaches
- Building social movements and linkages through action research
- Tensions between Peace and Justice, and in a similar vein: Peace Making, Peace Building and Transitional Justice Issues
Discussion touched on the need of practitioners themselves for good research practice, and the experience of those who are ‘researched’ when working and experiencing their own real time conflict contexts. Prof. Kevin Clements of the NCPACS Otago also addressed the symposium plenary (over two hundred participants) in the opening ceremony, via video from New Zealand. Kevin, who had known and worked with Adam Curle, was Visiting Resident Scholar at the Conflict Analysis Research Centre (CARC) University of Kent 2015/2016. He was closely involved in the development of the CRS session.