First International Sustained Dialogue College Summit Held in Addis AbabaMonday, December 19, 2011
(Sustained Dialogue Campus Network)The Addis Ababa University Peace Club in
collaboration with the Life & Peace
Institute organized a 3-day Sustained Dialogue
Summit from the 16th to the 18th of December
2011. Teams from Sudan, USA, Zimbabwe, and
Ethiopia attended the summit to share
experiences. The theme of the summit was
developing SD across the globe. The summit
resulted in a joint vision and topics included
ensuring the sustainability of SD through
selection of leaders and utilizing and building
effective fund raising capacity.
Kiah Abbey, a student from Montana State University, and Jessica Ch’ng, a student from Harvard University, joined Rhonda Fitzgerald, SDCN Program Director, to represent the U.S.-based Sustained Dialogue Campus Network. The group presented on measuring impact, moving from dialogue to action, and building safe, nonpartisan learning spaces.
In 2007, students from Addis Ababa University formed the Peace Club to build student capacity to resolve conflicts taking place on campus related to ethnic divide, language, culture, gender, religion, and disability. The student group reached out to the Peace and Development Center (PDC) in Addis Ababa and the Life & Peace Institute (LPI) in Sweden, an ecumenical research and action organization, to support strategies to work through divisions on campus using dialogue. In 2009, trainers from the Sustained Dialogue Campus Network in Washington, D.C. and from the Center for Conflict Management and Transformation in Harare, Zimbabwe, joined the 35 moderators of the AAU Peace Club for a 3-day Sustained Dialogue Training hosted by PDC and LPI.
The 2011 Summit marks two successful years of the initiative, which has involved 700 students to date. During the summit, hundreds of students came together to brainstorm ways of sustaining the club’s student-run activities. Dr. Abiy Zegeye, Chief Academic Officer of Addis Ababa University, spoke in support of the Peace Club’s work to improve relations on campus, labeling the initiative as “the most active” group of the many on campus. Summit organizer Hannah Tsadik, of the Life & Peace Institute, said the initiative is proof that “something very small can grow and bloom and reach people all over the world…that things can change for the better.” The summit’s attendees planned for future progress in their respective contexts. Dr. Yasir Awad, Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Khartoum and LPI Sudan Research Advisor shared plans to bring peace through sustained dialogue to the country, noting that the country, has more often had sustained civil strife.
While the summit is significant in that it’s the first international Sustained Dialogue student summit of its kind, it also provides an important case for those documenting peacekeeping initiatives. Professor Tarekegn Adebo of AAU noted the peer-reviewed academic research being conducted on the initiative: “This exercise, Sustained Dialogue, is going to contribute something serious on the theoretical level on that part of peace-building called impact assessment.”
The program representatives plan to collaborate further and advance their work in their respective contexts. Summit-goers committed to the following joint vision to guide work in their respective contexts.
Joint Vision Statement of the Sustained Dialogue Teams of Addis Ababa University, NUST in Zimbabwe, and the chapters of SDCN in the U.S.:
1. We are committed to create an environment where social change can be designed, implemented, and sustained through SD activities.
2. We are committed to strengthen and reinforce our own connections and hope to share experiences with schools, campuses, and organizations that seek to address destructive relational issues.
3. We are committed to convene and moderate dialogue individually or collectively when conflict arises.
4. We are committed to work toward critical opportunities for all regardless of background, ability status, gender, or ethnic divide.
5. We are committed to understand, analyze, and develop solutions that change relationships for the better.
For more information on the Life & Peace Institute, visit http://www.life-peace.org.
Summit Attendees from AAU, the U.S., and Zimbabwe