The art of conflict work hence does not begin with an external intervention into the dysfunctional affairs of the parties, but with providing a safe frame for encounter, dialogue and mutual understanding.
Prof. DDr. Wolfgang Dietrich holds the UNESCO Chair for Peace Studies at the University of Innsbruck/Austria and he is program director of the MA Program for Peace, Development, Security and International Conflict Transformation at the same University. He is member of the Austrian UNESCO Commission and permanent visiting professor at the Institute for Political Science at the University of Vienna, at the Centre for Peace and Development Studies at the University of Castellón/Spain, the Swisspeace Academy at the University of Basel/Switzerland and at the United Nation’s Peace University in Ciudad Colón/Costa Rica.
Born in Innsbruck in 1956 and Austrian citizen, Wolfgang Dietrich was educated in Austria and England, received a Ph.D. in history and literature at the University of Innsbruck in 1980 and a D.S.J. at the same University in 1984. In 1990 he was promoted to the degree of “Universitätsdozent” in Political Science according to the Austrian Law of Higher Education (UOG). Since 2008 he holds the UNESCO Chair for Peace Studies at the University of Innsbruck.
Wolfgang Dietrich has spent most of the eighties in Central America. He was president of the Austrian section of Amnesty International from 1989 to 1991. In the nineties he did field research in Latin America and the Caribbean, India, Eastern Africa and Southeast Asia. He was director of the European Peace University from 1995 to 1998 and academic director of the Austrian Institute for Latin America from 1995 to 2007.
His more than 200 academic writings have been published in English, German, Spanish, French, Russian, Portuguese and Farsi. He has taught in departments for peace and conflict studies, political science, history, arts and law at universities all over the world.
What would you like to point out about the short course?
The short course will focus on the social life between tradition and migration in the small Tyrolean city Imst, cradle of the SOS Kinderdorf movement. It will ask for conflicts that the rapid changes of modernization may bring upon. For doing so, it will first discuss and then use the methodology of “elicitive” conflict transformation as launched by the UNESCO Chair for Peace Studies at the University of Innsbruck. “Elicitive” describes an approach that presumes that the transformative energy of any social or cultural conflict can only be found in the relations of the parties. The art of conflict work hence does not begin with an external intervention into the dysfunctional affairs of the parties, but with providing a safe frame for encounter, dialogue and mutual understanding.
The UNESCO Chair composed a whole rainbow of methods for this kind of conflict work and assembles well known breath-, voice-, speech- and movement oriented methods in its so-called toolkit of “elicitive conflict-transformation”. Some of them, especially aspects of Non-violent Communication and Theme-Centred Interaction, will be introduced to the students before they develop a questionnaire for their visits at about 25 social and cultural institutions – from the fire fighters or traditional choirs to immigrants’ or youth clubs – in order to find existing or potential conflict lines in the community. Their findings will be analyzed and discussed together.
Contradictions, interests, wishes, expectations, frustrations and conflict of different groups will be expressed with the help of methods of the Theatre of the Oppressed under the guiding of an experienced and well known theatre activist, Armin Staffler. The result of it will be presented to representatives of all visited institutions as an interactive theatre. The students will learn about the social reality of a representative Tyrolean community and simultaneously be introduced to the aspects of contemporary peace philosophy and a variety of advanced and applied methods of conflict transformation that can be useful in many contexts. The course will regard the background of the students and understands their diversity as a strength and specific potential for learning the art and science of conflict transformation.
What are your expectations?
I believe and hope that the UNESCO Chair’s approach to peace and conflict, which is well known and very successful around the world under the title “Transrational Peaces and Elicitive Conflict Transformation”, will also be interesting for the age group of 16 to 18. It works with a lot of movement and fun, but also introspection and observation of relational dynamics in groups and communities. We will present these concepts in a nutshell and, in the best of all cases, the reaction of the students will motivate us to continue with further aspects of it in the next years.
For more on Prof. DDr. Wolfgang Dietrich, go here.