Claske DIJKEMA, Grenoble, May 2009
The Network University
The Network University (TNU) is a Dutch foundation (not for profit), which aims to provide advanced academic on-line programmes to a worldwide constituency of students and professionals. It brings together researchers, experts, and professionals coming from diverse universities, international organisations, NGOs, national governments, and research institutions from different disciplinary, social and geographic backgrounds.
Keywords: Internet and peace | Development of history for peace | New technologies for peace | | | | | Searching peace. Acting in favor of peace in a situation of war. | | | | | Germany
TNU triggers an active interdisciplinary exchange of information, knowledge and practices at the international, regional and local levels encouraging social transformation. TNU brings together participants from a broad range of different institutions, by creating an on-line platform with opportunities to actively learn, interact and encounter new ways of thinking.
The history and profile TNU’s activities commenced in 1998 at the Department of Political Science at the University of Amsterdam, where it offered its first academic on-line programme. Although TNU started as a project of the University of Amsterdam, today it cooperates with various Universities, development agencies, non governmental organisations and international education and capacity building institutes. This cooperation has resulted in the development of various projects, such as online courses, workshops and debates, education and communication platforms, evaluations of e-learning initiatives and training seminars. Although TNU does not focus exclusively on Conflict Transformation, it has been an important focus over the last ten years. Below you can find a description of some of the tools that TNU has developed in cooperation with its partners.
Splitscreen for creating a communication channel between Israeli and Palestinian youth
TNU has developed a tool that invites users to explore both sides of a conflict. We call this tool ‘SplitScreen’. The tool was piloted by a group of Dutch Arab and Isreali youth. The results of the pilot can be viewed here [www.netuni.nl/splitscreen/flash/index.html]. Note you will need flashplayer to view this file. You can contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like more information on SplitScreen.
Online courses on Conflict Transformation
Transforming Civil Conflicts
During the course the participants are familiarised with contemporary theories of conflict and conflict resolution, acquainted with a range of relevant information on conflict on the Internet and introduced to practical issues and debates within the field. They are brought together in a ‘learning community’ with people with a professional interest in conflict. The subjects for each of the course weeks are: Introduction to Conflict Resolution, Conflict Analysis and Conflict Prevention. The students participate through online debates, assignments and exercises and are coached intensively online. (Click on the globe on the left to get an idea of the content of each week)
Post Conflict Politics: State and Society relations (in cooperation with Modus Operandi)
The way States operate in the contexts of post-conflict transition processes poses problems. The demands for State reform in different cases of post-war reconstruction projects illustrate the obstacles against which these reforms may come: inadequate democracy, absence of the Rule of Law, ruling class’ lack of legitimacy, corruption, economic crisis and poverty, resurgence of conflict. The aim of the course is to give the participants all the tools to analyse a post-conflict state, and understand the elements that lead to stability, or a return to conflict. What are the options to improve the relationship between state and society in post-conflict contexts?
Gender and Conflict Transformation
This four-week online course brings together existing expertise on the relationship between gender and conflict transformation. The aim of the course is to empower women to become key agents in conflict transformation. The course will use a variety of interactive methods that illicit thinking and exchange.
Youth and Conflict
The aim of this course is to strengthen the local capacities of young people in peace-building and conflict transformation. By developing access to online training, young leaders will be encouraged to further develop their skills and abilities to deal with conflicts and learn how to make an active difference in their communities.
Demos of the conflict transformation courses can be viewed here [link to www.netuni.nl/demos/]
Electronic boardroom “Architecture for Peace”
At the initiative of Gerd Junne, professor of International Relations at the University of Amsterdam, a group of researchers wanted to explore the possibilities for a large project on « Architecture of Peace ». It concentrates specifically on the early phase of reconstruction in (post-)conflict areas, when spontaneous individual construction starts to be coordinated again by a public (or private) authority. The central question of the project is how the built an environment that could help to channel social relations in such a way that it would improve positive social interaction and, in the long run, reduce the chance for resumed fighting. To facilitate this project, TNU developed the tool of the “electronic boardroom”
It is a face-to-face discussion in a special room in which everybody has also access to a computer. The computers are linked to a discussion programme. The face-to-face discussion is regularly interrupted by short breaks in which everybody reacts in writing to the same specific question distilled from the discussion. Everybody can at the same time see the contributions of the others and can react to them as well. Such a discussion normally delivers a very rich harvest, because more people can write at the same time than talk, and every contribution is captured in the original wordings. It also gives the opportunity for everybody to bring their point of view forward. Architecture and Peace is a project in progress and results have not yet been published.