Category: Intercultural Seminar I

Six steps of Interest-based negotiation

1) The bargainers describe and define the issue, such as the topic to be discussed and/or the problem to be resolved.

2) An opportunity for each party is provided to identify its interests in regard to the issue—and to explore the interests of the other party. An interest is a reason why the issue is important to one or both of the parties.

3) With a shared understanding of all the interests, the parties engage in step three: the creation of options or potential solutions to satisfy as many of the interests as possible.

4) The parties agree on the criteria they will use to evaluate the 2 | ASSOCIATION FOR QUALITY & PARTICIPATION | Cincinnati, Ohio options. Criteria are the characteristics of an acceptable solution.

5) The parties select the options that best meet the agreed-upon criteria.

6) The parties integrate or craft these options into a comprehensive solution, concluding the process.

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This was the most interesting seminar yet.  The professor was very provocative and challenged the audience.  He raised questions regarding the point of peace research.  His critique came from a post-structuralist philosophy.

The media often views and presents nonviolent struggles incorrectly.  First, it views nonviolent action as inaction, avoidance or passive resistance.  Second, “the effectiveness of nonviolent action is a function of the ideology or repressiveness of the oppressors”.  Also, it usually sees nonviolent action as a tactic used when there is no other option.  Next, nonviolent action is viewed as something that is establish by “culture, economic system, geography, or other structural conditions”.  In addition, the media views nonviolent action as being related to certain beliefs, whether they are religious, metaphysical, or otherwise.  Lastly, the media believes that nonviolent action can only succeed if it is lead by someone “charismatic”. 

Therefore, when presenting nonviolent struggles on news programs, the media presents them in such a way as to influence the viewer.  They do so using, predominately, the following techniques:  framing and frame analysis, fragmentation, dramatization, euphemism, and authority-disorder bias.  Other reasons for misinterpretation could be due to:

1.    not diligently reporting from the scene

2.    not completely understanding the situation or topic

3.    not understanding the big picture

4. laziness (intellectual or journalistic)

What can we, the viewers, do?  We should be conscious viewers, not just ingesting everything we are told by the media as truth.  We should also ask questions about what we see, to check for validity.  Next, we ourselves can use “accurate language consistently, so as not to pass on misconceptions heard in the media.  Finally, we can search out authentic journalism (i.e., blogging, Twitter, etc.).

The Theater of the Oppressed was created in the 1960s by Augusto Boal.  It started in Brazil and later moved to Europe.  It has several forms of theater:  Forum, Newspaper, Direct Actions, Legislative, Invisible, and Rainbow of Desire.  In Forum Theater, for instance, a social problem is first acted out on stage.  Then, it is acted out a second time, but this time “spect-actors” (actors or spectators) can shout, “stop!” at any time in an attempt to step in and solve said problem.  This takes place several times, creating a secure manner of trying out new ideas for solving the problem and a safe place for sharing ideas or possible solutions.  Mistakes are welcome as this process evolves into a model for possible action to be taken in the future.

The translation for this seminar was absolutely terrible.  Afterwards, I felt extremely confused.  However, the Spanish-speaking students told us that it was about alternative development.

The seminar was really fun today.  We participated in a pretend United Nations Security Council activity.  We were divided into groups representing countries in Security Council of the United Nations.  The scenario involved the conflict between Pakistan and India regarding the territorial dispute about Kashmir region.

It was interesting that the nothing was agreed to in the end of the seminar.  Unfortunately, all of the groups (countries) were working for their own national interests and were unable to work together.  Although it was fun arguing and making deals with other groups, it is sad that the world actually operates in this way.  However, I think this was the point of this exercise.  It taught us that there are very real obstacles to resolving conflicts.

Overall, this seminar was a lot of fun.  However, I think we needed more time.  In fact, this seminar should probably consist of two or three days.  We didn’t have enough time.

This seminar was different from all of the previous seminars.  We participated in a workshop and practiced putting together a humanitarian project.  For example, we pretended that we were working for an NGO and were given a time limitation to put together a plan to help in a natural or man-made disaster.  It is not easy work—as we soon learned.  We must consider many things.  The budget, workers, resources, time, and many other factors must be considered while organizing a plan for implementation.

Before we can put together a project we must first know what the problem is and identify the situation. Once we have done that we can design a project.  Then, once our project plan is complete, we can begin implementation.  This is followed with the evaluation process.  These steps are repeated to improve the plan of action.

This is a useful list to keep in mind when developing a project:

1.)    Diagnosis

2.)    Goal

3.)    Actions

4.)    Actors

5.)    Time

6.)    Resources

7.)    Evaluation

It is also noteworthy to mention that we learned that humanitarian aid and development should connect and complement each other in the implementation of a project.

Global Education

In this seminar we learned about Global Education and how it is promoted by the North-South Centre.

It has two essential goals:

1.)   Increase solidarity through education and youth programs and raise awareness in European countries about issues of global interdependence.

2.)   In agreement with the Council of Europe the aim is to promote North-South solidarity policies, which seek to increase dialogue between Europe, the Southern Mediterranean countries and Africa.

I was particularly interested in what the lecturer said about stereotypes.  He pointed out that, as human beings, we all have stereotypes.  In fact, having stereotypes is part of being human, it is natural.  For example, when we are confronted with a reality that contradicts our stereotype we have one of two choices: we can either 1.) continue to adhere to that stereotype, or 2.) we can choose to change our views and cast our stereotype aside by adapting our beliefs and opinions to reality.  Of course, having a stereotype is only a problem when a person chooses (1) because it does not correspond to reality.  In other words, when we do not overcome our stereotypes it is a problem.

Global education helps people to overcome their stereotypes and learn the reality of the other, ourselves, and the group.  Dialogue is important and is emphasized at two dimensions.  First, the subjective dimension is concerned with how we interact and dialogue with ourselves, the other, the group, and the environment.  The second dimension is object and is focused upon understanding the reality of the other and learning form the other.

In short, the North-South Centre has three foundational principals:

1.)   Dialogue

2.)   Partnership

3.)   Solidarity

The lecturer noted that formal education alone is not responding to the needs of our societies.  Therefore, those involved in Global Education are bringing together experts to try to adapt the educational systems to a changing world.

Today the Secretary General of the International Peace Bureau (IPB) gave a presentation about nuclear weapons.  Disarmament is the main goal of the IPB.  The lecturer began by discussing the history of the IPB and then began to talk about the negative effects military spending has on society.

I believe it is important to talk about disarmament in relation to the military-industrial complex (MIC) in the United States.  The MIC refers to the relationship between the president, congress, the military, and a wide variety of weapons manufacturers in the business sector.  This dangerous combination of militarism and private industry now plays a central role in sustaining the US economy.  Defense contractors—private businesses and institutions that supply weapons to the military branch of the government—stand to profit with the sales of their weapons.  Furthermore, it should be mentioned that “the United States has become the largest single seller of arms and munitions on the planet” (Hedges, 2009: 153).  Therefore, war is economically beneficial in many ways for those in power and in business.  However, it is detrimental for the rest of the population for numerous reasons.  Outrageous sums of are spent on the military while social programs are deprived of needed funds.

In his book, Empire of Illusion, Chris Hedges talks about the negative consequences of the MIC in the United States.

The defense industry is a virus.  It destroys healthy economies.  We produce sophisticated fighter jets while Boeing is unable to finish its new commercial plane on schedule and our automotive industry goes bankrupt.  We sink money into research and development of weapons systems and starve renewable energy technologies to fight global warming.  Universities are flooded with defense-related cash and grants yet struggle to find money for environmental studies.  The massive military spending, aided by this $3 trillion war, has a social cost.  Our bridges and levees collapse, our schools decay, our real manufacturing is done overseas by foreign workers, and our social safety net is taken away.  And we are bombarded with the militarized language of power and strength that masks our brittle reality (Hedges, 2009: 153).

At the end of the Cold War, the United States found itself unrivaled as the sole superpower in the world.  The Soviet Union had collapsed.  Disarmament finally appeared on the horizon as a realistic option.  Having outspent the Soviet Union in a massive arms race, the United States had amassed an enormous arsenal of weapons, including nuclear warheads, which were now rendered useless.  The U.S. could no longer justify its military spending since the Soviet Union had been defeated.

Despite the existence of these perfect conditions for disarmament, U.S. politicians, military leaders, and weapons manufacturers sought to maintain the status quo of military spending, weapons production, and the positioning of combat forces abroad, with financial and hegemonic ambitions.  “Without a credible military threat in the form of international communism, from 1990 until September 11, 2001, the military–industrial complex searched for another reason to justify its existence” (Karsten, 2005).

The defenders of the military-industrial complex found new justification in the threat of international terrorism after September 11th for maintaining standing armies, preserving worldwide military bases, and increasing military expenditure.  Just as communism was used to fuel military spending during the Cold War, terrorism is used now.  Those who wish to preserve and expand the military-industrial complex use fear of terrorism as an excuse, not only to increase weapons production and sales, but also to invade other countries and wage war—in the name of national security.


Edmund Husserl

The English translation for this seminar was a bit confusing and unclear at times.  With that being said, the lecturer talked about Edmund Husserl and his conception of phenomenology, which is the study of phenomena, especially as it relates to mental states.  In other words, phenomenology is the study of the essential structures of experience and examines consciousness, or how things appear to one’s consciousness.  Husserl wanted to know how the very act of consciousness relates to the object of consciousness.

The lecturer mentioned something about our happiness being dependent upon the good of others.  All human beings share the same animalistic perception of objects, but we will interpret them in different ways.  In this way, our animalistic nature (rationality) allows us to understand the feelings of the other.

I agree with the idea that individual human happiness is dependent upon the wellness/good of others.  We are all connected in this world.  We know that others suffer, and thereby, we can relate to them in the animalistic stage of human life since we also have the capacity to suffer.  I believe this should also be extended to other creatures on earth.  The other should include all sentient beings (humans, dogs, cows, etc).  On the level of rationality we (human beings) can relate to the feelings of other human beings.  So, just as we can understand the feelings/suffering of other human beings—because we share the capacity to suffer—we also have the capability of sharing and sympathizing with the suffering of other creatures in the animal world (dogs, cats, pigs, cows, chickens etc).  Therefore, I contend that human happiness is not only dependent upon the happiness (good/wellness) of other human beings, but also the happiness (good/wellness) of other living creatures, since they are sentient beings with the same capacity to suffer as humans.