ACRes: What do you see as new areas for
conflict resolution careers and innovation?
PCDN: The number of graduate programs in conflict
resolution is at an all-time high, as are the number of jobs for students graduating with conflict
resolution skills. But with increasing numbers of
academic programs has come increased competition for jobs. There is still a much greater supply of
people who want to work in conflict resolution than
there are positions in the field. Therefore successful
job seekers need to think creatively about how they
can integrate the conflict resolution skills they have
developed into a wide variety of sectors. Of course
this includes conflict resolution careers, but also it is
critical for most people to recognize that they will not
obtain a job with the title “conflict resolution practitioner.” Instead, the key is looking at how to integrate
skills into a range of positions and organizations.
One area of growth and need is monitoring and
evaluation of the effectiveness of conflict resolution and peacebuilding efforts. This is important at
both the community and international levels. The
field in the past has been weak in demonstrating the
outcomes of efforts with metrics. Donors need this
more and more in order to justify funding.
There are also new actors in social change. One
growth sector is social enterprise. This approach
encourages building a better tool kit which in turn
generates greater financial sustainability in cre-
ating organizations with healthy budgets. This
strategy is characterized by collaboration between
non-governmental groups and the private sector.
This approach leads to market-based strategies to
responding to challenges in conflict–effected? soci-
eties. A question might be “what is the Microsoft or
Apple of peace?”
Examples of this development are KIND food
products and Chobani yogurt, which both devote
considerable resources to social issues. Increas-
ingly for companies it’s not just about philanthropy.
Rather a need to work for the common good is
imbedded in everything they do.
Another emerging area is responding to
corruption. This is particularly the case where weak
governmental structures are present. Conflict –
sensitive approaches can be useful in examining the root
causes of corruption and then developing strategies
to respond. We need to consider how the field can
better respond to organized crime.
Finally, technology is being used to deal with
conflict in new ways. But very few graduates coming
from conflict programs have tech skills. There is a
need to speak both “tech” and “peace.” Similarly,
There is a need to look at messaging. As a field we
need to be much better at selling peace and conflict
resolution. How can we make the field hipper and
more accessible to a wide range of people and organizations, so tech will also include social media skills?
ACRes: What about students interested
in working in domestic U.S. context, what
is the future for that?
PCDN: There is a constant struggle to make organizations, whether for profit or nonprofit, financially
viable. There is an increasing need for entrepreneurial
skills to promote financial solvency among organizations interested in social change. We must consider
new ways to generate revenue. Could local organizations generate products? Local groups need to
focus on collaboration and working together more.
Networks are becoming increasingly important.
This requires partnerships between those with conflict resolution skills and business acumen. It also
involves looking at capacity building for others as a
source of income.
Community based actors, often not dealing directly
with conflict, can provide services to the community
that enhance peacebuilding outcomes. One example
is Busboys and Poets in Washington, DC, a group
of restaurants/bookstores/discussion spaces that
The Future of Conflict Resolution Work
About the Authors
is the Founder
and CEO of PCDN.
Previously for a
decade he a full-time
faculty member of
Resolution graduate program where
he still serves as a
Faculty Fellow. Craig
serves on a number
of boards and advisory boards including
the Inzone Project,
This World, Amani
Institute, Alliance for
is Director of Innovation at the Peace
and Collaborative Development Network
and former Director
of Global Partnerships at Women
She holds a Ph.D.
in Conflict Analysis and Resolution
from George Mason
& Catalina Rojas
For this Careers issue of ACResolution the co-editors sat down with the Peace and
Collaborative Development Network (PCDN) team to discuss the future of conflict
resolution work. Here are the highlights of our interview with Dr. Craig Zelizer, Founder
and CEO, and Dr. Catalina Rojas, Director of Innovation for PCDN.