Call for Papers

USAF-SAIS Symposium on Cross Cultural Conflict Management, Sept 22-25, 2010

The symposium will focus on some of the challenges faced by both military members and civilians when confronting negotiation, mediation, or other conflict management situations in intense and challenging conditions in highly stressed societies. Unique challenges to conflict management are faced inter alia in counter-insurgency operations, civil affairs operations, multilateral peacekeeping, peacemaking, and peace-enforcement operations. Interactions to be studied could range from high level political negotiations with officials of host governments and international institutions, as well as leaders of rebel groups and aggrieved population, to tactical level interactions with noncombatants in traumatized societies.

Many of these interactions are likely to occur in situations where there is little or no advance warning or preparation time, where rapid agreement must be struck to head off potentially volatile situations, and where the surrounding conditions are highly unstable and often dangerous. They are also likely to be affected by cultural differences between parties, different or even conflicting ethical frameworks, divergent rules, and legal constraints, often when these factors are not fully known or understood by some or all parties to the conflict. Furthermore, the danger and uncertainty may be conducive to high levels of stress, fear, anger and desire for vengeance on the part of the parties involved. In short, the symposium will focus on efforts to manage conflict under some of the most difficult conditions imaginable.

These kinds of negotiations and mediation efforts are not well treated by most extent literature on negotiation and conflict management processes, and yet they pertain to situations encountered with increasing frequency by military and civilian officials alike, as well as by NGOs, engaged in various kinds of special operations in complex environments. The symposium, therefore, will seek to explore what is already known about how the negotiation and conflict management process is affected by these stressful conditions, to identify limitations of existing theory and research that generate new directions for research, and to produce an edited book that explores the terrain beyond the current theoretical boundaries. The immediate product of the symposium will be an edited book, although an additional goal of the Air Force Culture and Language Center is to produce a field manual for practitioners faced with these kinds of complex situations that might also serve as a basis for training.

The symposium will take place September 22-25, 2010, in Washington DC at Johns Hopkins University, SAIS. Some travel funding will be available. For further info, contact Dr. Kim Hudson @ no later than May 30, 2010.

Sponsored by the Air Force General Counsel for Dispute Resolution, the Air Force Culture and Language Center, and the Program on Conflict Management of the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), Johns Hopkins University.