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Fall 2014 Practica

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1) Qualitative Data Analysis and Participatory Research in Rural Sierra Leone

Fall semester 2014

The West African nation of Sierra Leone is rebuilding after a devastating decade-long civil war, and numerous international and local NGOs are working there on various aspects of post-conflict peacebuilding. This practicum focuses on two important issues facing the country: improving community-based education and community-based reconciliation. Students in the practicum will take data recently gathered in Sierra Leone and work on analyzing it and producing reports for a British NGO (Children in Crisis) and a local peace and reconciliation NGO. They will also produce a policy brief for the Sierra Leone Ministry of Education, a “best practices” report supporting the expansion of the local reconciliation model to other post-conflict contexts, and a report appropriate to be shared with rural Sierra Leonean research participants.

For the NGO client, students will seek to answer two central questions:

  • Can quality community-based education be delivered and sustained at low cost in remote rural areas where the state is absent or weak?
  • What changes in children's (particularly girls') capabilities can be observes from school-centered gender programs?

Students will review literature on Sierra Leone, reconstruction of post-conflict education systems, and community-based reconciliation programs. They will learn about participatory research approaches, and use NVivo—the most widely-used qualitative data analysis software—to organize and code the data from the two research projects. Students will learn qualitative data analysis skills by engaging deeply with a real-world, somewhat messy data produced by Sierra Leonean research participants. The end results will be formal reports to the clients, a policy brief for the Sierra Leone Ministry of Education, and a report appropriate for sharing with research participants and their communities.

Professor: Susan Shepler is an Associate Professor in the International Peace and Conflict Resolution Program. She first started working in Sierra Leone as a Peace Corps Volunteer in 1987, and has focused much of her scholarly and professional attention there ever since. Her book, Childhood Deployed: Remaking Child Soldiers in Sierra Leone, is forthcoming from NYU Press in June 2014. In addition to academic work, she has worked as a research and evaluation consultant in West Africa for UNICEF, the International Rescue Committee, and Search for Common Ground. She spent the 2013-2014 academic year in Nigeria as a Fulbright Scholar and Visiting Professor at the University of Jos in the Centre for Conflict Management and Peace Studies.

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2) Intelligence Analysis

Fall semester 2014

This practicum focuses upon assisting a U.S. Intelligence Community client solve a vexing analytical problem. After the Intelligence Community client presents its challenge, students will collaboratively develop a report that addresses its requirements. The final report will most likely be a short, incisive piece (>25 pages), given the ultimate consumer of the product will be busy national security professionals and subject matter experts.

Students will have the opportunity to interact with members of the Intelligence Community who will periodically attend class to provide advice and guide the research to completion. Students will be graded not only upon the quality and creativity of their research and analysis, but also upon their presentation and time-management skills.

Previous Intelligence Analysis practica have examined al Qaeda propaganda, resource extraction in Africa, and “How Civil Wars End.” This unclassified report will be presented to the Intelligence Community client at the end of the semester at its facilities.

Professor: Aki Peritz is the Senior Policy Advisor for National Security at Third Way. He is the co-author of Find, Fix, Finish: Inside the Counterterrorism Campaigns that Killed bin Laden and Devastated Al Qaeda. Prior to working at Third Way, he spent several years as a counterterrorism analyst for the U.S. government, and has authored or co-authored various publications on a wide range of national security topics, including: counterterrorism, China, cyberspace, nuclear proliferation networks, post-9/11 legal doctrine, U.S. intelligence cooperation in the Middle East and Asia, and military issues in South Asia.

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3) Human Rights Impact Analysis

Fall semester 2014

This course will introduce students to the field of human rights impact analysis, a process for systematically identifying, predicting and responding to the potential human rights impacts of a business operation, capital project, government policy, or trade agreement. Arising out of the development of the UN Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights, companies are expected to conduct human rights "due diligence" in order to identify, prevent and mitigate adverse human rights impacts, and to account for their performance. This process includes assessing actual and potential human rights impacts, integrating and acting upon the findings, and tracking as well as communicating their performance.

Client: The client for this practicum is Nomogaia (www.nomogaia.org), a nonprofit research and policy organization dedicated to clarifying the corporate role in human rights protection and facilitating corporate responsibility for the communities impacted by capital projects. Nomogaia has undertaken a number of human rights impact assessments around the world and has created cutting edge methodologies in the field of human rights due diligence for business enterprises around the world.

Course Goals

  • Understand theories of human rights impact analysis
  • Utilize a human rights impact assessment model to evaluate a range of human rights risks emanating from a particular project
  • Identify specific human rights risks emanating from a project, policy or trade agreement
  • Develop transferable skills that can be utilized in future human rights impact assessments

Outcomes: Students will provide Nomogaia with two products: a full catalogue of the potential human rights impacted by a specific project and a report that distills the findings from the catalogue process. The students will also meet with Nomogaia staff to report on their findings. The catalogue process is the key first step taken in the HRIA process and frames the field research that confirms human rights impacts resulting from the business development under investigation by Nomogaia staff.

Professor: John Richardson has more than 20 years experience in the fields of political risk analysis, corporate governance and corporate social responsibility. He has served in a number of roles on behalf of institutional investors, involving work as a shareholder advocate and negotiator for activist investors and as a proxy voting agent. In that later role, he has represented both pension funds and investment management firms with combined equity assets of $50 billion and voted in excess of one million ballots on a range of corporate governance issues. Mr. Richardson has also worked in the private equity field, negotiating transactions involving ESOP leveraged buyouts of distressed companies, working with labor unions and employees to complete a number of successful buyouts of public and private companies. In addition, his work with labor organizations on the local and national levels has given him considerable insight into challenging business issues.

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4) The Role of NATO in US National Security Policy

Fall semester 2014

NATO has since its inception at the end of World War II been a critical element of US National Security Policy. As time has passed and the security environment has changed, the US has encouraged the Alliance to adapt to the emergence of new ones. Broadly speaking, there have been four “eras” of NATO’s focus:

  1. The Cold War. NATO was the key instrument for the United States and its allies to prevent territorial expansion of the Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact allies in Europe.
  2. European Integration. At the end of the Cold War, the US worked through NATO to begin the integration of newly independent Central European nations into the Euro-Atlantic system.
  3. Peacekeeping. During the 90s, there was a flurry of instability in Eastern and Central Europe, primarily in the Balkans and NATO was the key organization to provide peacekeeping forces and mediators to mitigate conflict there.
  4. Counterterrorism. After the terrorist attacks of 9/11, the US depended on its NATO allies to support it in Afghanistan (to a lesser extend in Iraq) and elsewhere that we view terrorism as a threat.

The United States is drawing down its forces engaged in Afghanistan and our NATO allies are down to token levels.

What next in Trans-Atlantic relations? This is a critical policy debate taking place in the US government leading up to the next NATO summit and it is the question we will explore in this practicum.

Client: The RAND Corporation. RAND is a research institute that works closely with the Departments of Defense and State to develop policy options in the field of national security.

Professor: Stuart E. Johnson is a senior policy analyst at the RAND Corporation, where he directs studies that focus on national security strategy and the forces and resources needed to implement the strategy. He is also a professor at the Pardee RAND Graduate School. From 2002 to 2007, Johnson served as director of research in the Center for Technology and National Security Policy at National Defense University (NDU), where he directed a program analyzing the future U.S. national security environment and how to translate that into choices for defense policy and planning. From 1997 to 2002, Johnson directed the International Security and Defense Policy Center within the RAND National Defense Research Institute. Prior to joining RAND, he was director of research at NDU's Institute for National Strategic Studies. He planned and executed a program of study in support of senior decisionmakers in the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) and the Joint Staff. He also served as director of systems analysis at NATO Headquarters, directing a multinational staff of analysts to develop requirements for the forces of NATO nations, and as principal European/NATO analyst in OSD, Program Analysis and Evaluation.

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5) Transformation, Peacebuilding and Development

Fall semester 2014

Originally conceived in the context of post-conflict recovery efforts to promote reconciliation and reconstruction, the term peacebuilding has more recently taken on a broader meaning. The peacebuilding continuum now involves a range of distinct but closely related activities, from providing humanitarian relief to protecting human rights, to ensuring security, to aiding economic reconstruction and development, to building community resilience, governance, reconciliation and conflict prevention. In a larger sense, peacebuilding involves a transformation toward more manageable, peaceful relationships and governance structures—the long-term process of addressing root causes and effects, reconciling differences, normalizing relations, and building institutions that can manage conflict without resorting to violence.

This practicum focuses on key aspects of contemporary peacebuilding; specifically on building the social infrastructure necessary for a more durable peace in conflict-ravaged societies. Students will work with international non-governmental organizations, such as Global Communities, with government agencies, such as The Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations (CSO) at the United States Department of State, or the umbrella association of peacebuilding and development organizations, the Alliance for Peacebuilding. Students will work closely with staff of client organizations on topics such as atrocity risk and prevention, building community resiliency, fostering public-private partnerships to promote peace, advancing reconciliation and building social cohesion. The practicum will provide opportunities for practical skills development in such areas as advanced research and formulation of policy options; development of resiliency implementation strategies; programming to enhance local peacebuilding capacity; cross-cultural communication; intergroup and inter-organizational dynamics, including headquarters-field relations; and monitoring and evaluation. Regional foci include Latin America, Africa, particularly the Sahel and the Great Lakes region, and the Middle East.

While students from all programs are welcome to apply, special consideration will be given to applicants with course work and/or experience in conflict resolution and peacebuilding, development, human security and area studies.

Professor: Hrach Gregorian is President of the Institute of World Affairs, a DC NGO which has been engaged in conflict resolution and peacebuilding training, research and consultation since the early 1990s in the US and numerous other countries. He was a Director at the US Institute of Peace from 1988 to 1993, and is a co-founder and current board member of the Alliance for Peacebuilding.

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