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Project Spotlight: Peace and Conflict Lab 2.0

By mark hine on April 27, 2018

The Peace and Conflict Lab was purpose built to explore the history and impact of conflicts and peace accords with experts far afield. Alumni Hall’s one of a kind “war room” includes large TVs, iMac workstations, and high-quality conferencing microphones. This collaborative space has hosted numerous international and transcontinental video conferences in addition to traditional lectures. Bridging geographic gaps and bringing people together to share a collective experience has been the overarching goal of the PCON Lab from its inception.

In the summer of 2017, ITS and faculty partnered to initiate a major technical upgrade and provide a much-needed equipment refresh to improve the ease of use and reliability of the equipment. Sound quality improvements, wireless AV controls, and maintenance to the existing infrastructure were completed, ensuring the Peace and Conflict Lab will remain a premier teaching space for Colgate students and faculty.

The Peace and Conflict Lab is used by numerous faculty members in a number of ways. This unique learning space has been a focal point for connecting disparate continents, bringing in noted authors, connecting remote classrooms, and virtually hosting visiting content-area experts.

Between 2015 and 2016, Professor Andrew Rotter, director of the peace and conflict studies program, noted author, and the Charles A. Dana Professor of history, taught a blended online course on the Vietnam War with a colleague and her students at St. Lawrence University. The two professors brought students “face to face” from across the two campuses in real time using video conferencing technology for conversation and idea exchanges. “Functionality was excellent,” Rotter noted.

Professor Daniel Monk organized two international virtual conferences with colleagues from Canada, England, The Netherlands, and other locations. “It worked flawlessly . . . and it has now led to a special issue of a journal called Critical Studies on Security,” Monk said. Monk is a member of the PCON faculty and chair of the Middle Eastern Studies and Islamic Civilization program.

Assistant Professor Teo Ballvé used the space to connect with book and article authors the class was reading. The experience “really helped bring material to life and allowed students to learn about what goes into research that you would never know about by reading the finished book or article,” Ballvé said. Ballvé teaches in the Geography department and Peace and Conflict Studies.

In the fall of 2017, Amanda E. Rogers, NEH visiting assistant professor of the humanities in the Middle Eastern and Islamic studies program, connected with global media professionals, artists, and activists from near and abroad, discussing the political unrest and revolutionary movements of the Arab Spring. Using Bluejeans conferencing software, students from her MIST 220 (Media, Power and Protest) class spoke with experts located in Syria, Libya, Egypt, Tunisia, Iraq, and other North African and Middle Eastern areas who experienced firsthand the upheaval and turmoil that have become all too familiar headlines.

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