Stenden University and Webster Thailand's International Relations Program Hold Training Seminar | Webster University Thailand

Stenden University and Webster Thailand's International Relations Program Hold Training Seminar

Webster University Thailand and Stenden University Thailand recently collaborated on a one-day training seminar for undergraduate and graduate students from Stenden and Webster. The event was hosted at the PIM Campus, Bangkok. Conducting the seminar was Dr Kenneth Houston from the International Relations program at Webster University Thailand. Participants were introduced to the principles of conflict mapping as developed by Paul Wehr (and later by Bartos & Wehr), which can serve as a transferable and practical rubric for the analysis of social conflict in a range of settings. A number of international development agencies, such as DfID (UK) and SIDA (Sweden), utilize a similar approach to the analysis of social conflict in their intervention planning.

Stenden WUT

Social conflict is invariably a complexity of relations and dynamics that are often too readily subjected to ideological interpretations and normative prescriptions before they are properly understood as social processes. Interventions planned on the basis of poor analysis can be either ineffective or damaging to resolution efforts. Inevitably, conflict also generates a considerable amount of data, which both embody and contribute to the multiple facets of a given dispute. The planning of interventions by external/impartial or humanitarian actors requires systematic analysis. A comprehensive understanding of the context, actors, issues and dynamics of any social conflict demands first and foremost a sound initial analysis. Mapping a conflict allows analysts to organize this information and develop a strategy for successful and positive intervention. In addition, the power dynamics of any dispute need to be more fully understood, and this necessarily goes beyond formal manifestations of social power to include its informal and less obvious manifestations. 

Stenden WUT

Equipped with the essential rubric, the Stenden and Webster participants undertook a test conflict assessment using a historical conflict, which permitted access to detailed and revealing primary source material. Using the map, they developed a preliminary analysis of this conflict and reflected on their findings. The training seminar was well received by the participants and strengthened their conceptual and analytical repertoire in approaching complex problems.

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