By Laurie Smolenski
When I learned about the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), a think tank dedicated to using empirical research to better understand the drivers of peace, as a Rotary Peace Fellow in 2016, I was fascinated. The idea that peace – which often lives in a lofty realm of aspiration and emotions – could be articulated in concrete metrics, underpinned by data, and visualized through heat maps and charts was new and profoundly impactful to me.
I hadn’t yet known that the following year, Rotary and IEP would embark on a strategic partnership. As I see it, this partnership represents a critical bridge between research and action, as it will equip Rotarians working on the ground with concrete tools and frameworks to promote “Positive Peace.” Defined as the attitudes, institutions, and structures that correlate to the world’s most peaceful societies (a framework IEP has developed through statistical analysis), Positive Peace is a natural foundation for this collaboration.
There are several ways you can get involved in our partnership. I invite you to check out the newly launched Rotary Peace Academy, which is an online learning platform for Rotarians. Within a few hours, you can familiarize yourself with IEP’s research frameworks and methodology, through the lens of Rotary’s mission and areas of focus. The Academy provides examples of practical and creative applications of Positive Peace to help you incorporate this framework into your own service projects.
If working with your community to find new ways to build and promote peace sounds like fun, your club or district can host a Positive Peace Workshop. IEP and Rotary have held workshops for hundreds of Rotaractors and youth in Uganda and Mexico (respectively), and we’re planning workshops in Mexico and Colombia for early 2019. The workshops establish Positive Peace as a neutral framework that can be adapted to unique cultural and regional contexts. A guide for Rotarians on how you can host your own workshop will be available in the coming months.
We’re counting on Rotarian peacebuilders to tell us what you think of Positive Peace, and how the partnership can better serve your work. For further resources and to be involved in this partnership, please contact Summer.Lewis@rotary.org
Laurie Smolenski is the outreach and development officer at the Institute for Economics and Peace. She is also a 2016 Rotary Peace Fellow.