Highlights of SPCS Degree Program 40th Anniversary Conference

Celebrating 40 Years of Peace and Conflict Studies at Kent State University  

The Center for Applied Conflict Management, now named the School of Peace and Conflict Studies, achieved two significant milestones in the 2013-14 academic year:  the 40th anniversary of the undergraduate degree program, and the introduction of a new conflict management track in the Political Science doctoral program.

The School of Peace and Conflict Studies' BA degree began in the 1973-74 academic year, and is one of the country's largest and most robust programs in Peace and Conflict Studies.   With the interest in conflict management continuing to grow, a new Conflict Analysis and Management doctoral track was added to the PhD program in Political Science at Kent State starting in the 2013-14 academic year.

Both achievements were profiled in the article “Applied Conflict Management program celebrates 40 years, prepares Ph.D. program

To celebrate these major milestones, the School of Peace and Conflict Studies (SPCS) presented their first full day conference at Kent State University on March 7, 2014, entitled “Conflict Management Practices and Possibilities: A Conference Celebrating 40 Years of Peace and Conflict Studies at Kent State University.” The conference was a great success, with a capacity attendance of 120 participants. (Note:  Biographies of the presenters can be found at the bottom of this page.)

The conference began with a keynote address by Dr. George Lopez, talking about “Thinking and Doing:  Peace and Conflict Studies at its Best.”  Dr. Lopez, Vice President and Director of the Academy for International Conflict Management and Peacebuilding at the United States Institute of Peace, spoke eloquently about the history of peace and conflict studies and directions for research, study and practice in the future.

Dr. Patrick CoyCACM DiscussionDr. George Lopez

Two morning workshops were offered -- one in community mediation practices, and the other providing instruction on the process of appreciative inquiry.

The “Panel on Best Practices from Diverse Models of Community Mediation,” featured four professionals in the mediation field who shared their experiences.  Panelists included Michelle Zaremba, coordinator of the Dayton Mediation Center; Ian Heisey, coordinator of mediation services for Bellaire Puritas Development Corporation in Cleveland; Teresa Cusma, coordinator of services at Coleman Professional Services in Canton, and Ed Boye, Assistant Director of the Cleveland Mediation Center.

Teresa CusmaEd BoyeMichelle ZarembaIan Heisey

The session on “Building Better Organizations and Creating Change Using Appreciate Inquiry,” led by Dr. Mark Chupp, Assistant Professor at Case Western Reserve University. This workshop led participants through an appreciative inquiry process exploring the long-term future of the School of Peace and Conflict Studies. Input received from that workshop will be utilized in future planning for the Center.

Dr. Mark ChuppConference DiscussionConference Discussion 2

The highlight of the lunch session was a chance to see and hear Gandhi portrayed by  Bernie Meyer, who spoke first from Gandhi’s perspective, and then shared stories of his own involvement in nonviolent change.

Gandhi portrayed by Bernie MeyerGhandi 1

The afternoon featured two workshops that attendees could choose from: a CACM Alumni Panel, and a workshop on how to engage communities in positive change.

The “CACM Alumni Panel:  Applying Conflict Management in the Field” brought together four CACM alumni working in various fields to discuss their career paths and experiences.  This panel featured Kathleen Jackson, director of Senior Citizens Resources in Old Brooklyn, Ohio; Sarah Muir, Human Resources Manager for Nestle Corporation in Solon; Tim Mayer, CWRU law student and former organizer for the Community Farm Alliance in Kentucky; and Kenzi Bisbing, education manager for the Oakland Mediation Center in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. 

“Building a Better World by Engaging Communities in Positive Change” featured Katie Fry and Sue Lacy of Round River Consulting Group in Akron.  Round River was instrumental in working with displaced residents after Hurricane Katrina to change housing policy, and is currently working on a project in Akron with older adults facing mental health challenges.

CACM ALUMNI PANELKatie FrySue LacyEngaging Communities

The conference was a great success and well-received by the participants.

Biographical Profiles of Conference Presenters

Keynote Speaker Bio Sketch

Dr. George A. LopezDr. George A. Lopez is Vice President and Director of the Academy for International Conflict Management and Peacebuilding at the United States Institute of Peace in Washington, D.C. A long-time leading figure in the field of Peace and Conflict Studies, he assumed this position in September 2013 after 27 years at the University of Notre Dame's Kroc Institute, where he held the Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, C.S.C., chair in Peace Studies. Lopez's research interests focus primarily on the problems of state violence, especially economic sanctions, gross violations of human rights, and ethics and the use of force. He has authored or edited 16 books and published 20 peer-reviewed journal articles, 35 book chapters, and dozens or policy briefs and articles. A major scholar of economic sanctions and other nonviolent approaches to conflict management, since 1992 he has written more than 25 articles and book chapters as well as five books on economic sanctions alone, including a policy brief widely-regarded as the most influential document for those favoring an alternative to war with Iraq. Dr. Lopez has served as Director of the Summer Institute on Teaching Peace in the 21st Century for university faculty in Peace and Conflict studies since its inception.

Appreciative Inquiry Workshop Leader Bio Sketch

Mark G. ChuppMark G. Chupp is Assistant Professor at the Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences of Case Western Reserve University. He teaches community development and directs the East Cleveland Partnership, a multi-institutional  initiative to support the revitalization of East Cleveland. He has extensive experience in intervening in inter-group conflict and facilitating citizen participation in democratic decision-making. He has conducted numerous action research projects, including a survey of vacant housing in East Cleveland by over 100 MSASS students that lead to a $2.2 million federal grant. Mark initiated Appreciative Inquiry for Community and Social Change, one of the first systematic efforts to adopt appreciative inquiry for nonprofit and community contexts. Mark designed an appreciative inquiry process for promoting race relations in a traditional Polish American neighborhood in Cleveland, Ohio that was experiencing a large increase in African American residents. He was the principle investigator for conducting 3,500 appreciative citizen interviews for Voices & Choices, the civic engagement initiative for Northeast Ohio. In 2012, he co-designed a citywide process known as Core Change for transforming Cincinnati’s urban core neighborhoods. Dr. Chupp is an international consultant and trainer and has worked in Northern Ireland, Egypt, Columbia, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and El Salvador.

Gandhi Presenter Bio Sketch

Bernie MeyerBernie Meyer is a long-time peace activist and student of the teachings of Mohandas Gandhi who has been portraying Gandhi for more than a decade. Dressed in traditional dhoti with walking stick, Bernie brings you the legendary Gandhi. A former Catholic priest and later social worker, Bernie Meyer has traveled as Gandhi throughout the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom as well as India, where his portrayals have resulted in his being lovingly dubbed, "The American Gandhi." Invited to India in 2004 to portray Gandhi, he has presented Gandhi’s life, experiences, and wisdom annually in India in 12 visits. Humanities Washington has sponsored Bernie’s Gandhi presentations at a variety of venues for two seasons, and he has portrayed Gandhi in dozens of schools, universities and conferences around the world. During his presentations, Bernie weaves together Gandhi's messages regarding human dignity, spirituality, politics, economics, world peace, interdependence, forgiveness, and much more. 

Community Mediation Panel Bio Sketches

Michelle ZarembaMichelle Zaremba is the Coordinator of the Dayton Mediation Center and has been central in leading its expansion. She has secured funding to support additional staff, developed multiple sources of new revenue including funding support from the Dayton Municipal Court, the Dayton Police Department, and the Montgomery County (Ohio) Sheriff’s Department, and won multiple grant awards from the Department of Justice Edward Bryne Memorial Justice Assistance (JAG) program grant. Michelle earned a Master of Public Administration degree from Wright State University and a BA in Applied Conflict Management from Kent State University. Michelle serves on the Board of Directors for the National Association for Community Mediation (NAFCM), the leading conflict resolution organization for community mediation globally. Michelle has extensive training experience in Transformative Mediation Theory and Practice and broad professional experience as a facilitator, conflict management systems designer, and team-building consultant. Michelle is a highly decorated Staff Sergeant with the United States National Guard and was awarded a Bronze Star and Purple Heart for her leadership and bravery in Iraq in 2004. Michelle published a book in 2008 about her experiences as a female soldier in the Iraq War, Wheels on Fire: My Year of Driving (and surviving) in Iraq, Hellsgate Press.

Ian HeiseyIan Heisey is the Mediation Coordinator at  Bellaire-Puritas Development Corporation, a non-profit community development organization in Cleveland that is committed to services for residents around housing, youth development, support to senior citizens, planning, conflict management, and engagement with the local schools through a holistic neighborhood development approach. As Mediation Coordinator, Ian has developed over the years a distinctive, highly adaptive and fluid model of mediation that is well-suited to the diverse kinds of conflicts facing the citizens of the Bellaire-Puritas neighborhood. The mediation program was recognized by the Cleveland Neighborhood Development Corporation (CNDC) for Leadership in Community Programs. An experienced trainer, Ian has also provided conflict management seminars and skills-development workshops to a wide variety of groups and organizations in the Cleveland area and beyond. Previously Ian was the project manager of Project Peacemakers, an ecumenical peace and justice organization in Winnipeg, Manitoba supported by the Mennonite Church.

Teresa CusmaTeresa Cusma is Director of Coleman Mediation Services. She has worked extensively as a mediation practitioner in divorce and family, adolescent, housing, workplace, and community disputes. She has significant experience as a trainer and consultant on the topics of mediation, conflict resolution skills development, and establishing mediation programs. She has been a columnist for the Canton Repository and is an adjunct faculty member at Kent State Stark. Teresa founded and later merged her organization, the Community Mediation Center of Stark County, a community based dispute resolution service, with Coleman Professional Services in 2009. The Community Mediation Center operated for eight years as an independent not-for-profit organization. The Community Mediation Center offered a wide variety of mediation services and conflict management training to the Stark County community, which Teresa now continues to offer to the same communities through Coleman Mediation Services. She received the Stark County Bar Association’s Liberty Bell Award for outstanding community service. Teresa is a founding member and past president of the Ohio Community Mediation Association. She currently chairs a state-wide task force to credential mediators in Ohio.

Ed BoyteEd Boyte, Assistant Director of the Cleveland Mediation Center. Ed has worked at the Cleveland Mediation Center (CMC) since 2000. Beyond being the Center’s primary trainer in conflict resolution and the Center’s assistant director,  Ed recently piloted a homeless diversion program in Cleveland’s men’s, women’s and family shelters, applying conflict resolution strategies to the newly homeless to help people stay out of the homeless system. The program now employs multiple CMC staff in each of the two shelters. He has provided a wide variety of trainings in conflict-related topics to many groups across the state, the region, and beyond.


Building a Better World Workshop Bio Sketches

Sue LacySue Lacy co-founded Round River Consulting over a decade ago with Katie Fry. Her ability to equip leaders, organizations, and communities with the capacity to take effective action on issues that most impact their lives has shaped the firm’s reputation for producing valuable results and more sustainable organizations. She has worked with a wide range of leaders and organizations including public agencies, non-profit organizations, health systems, faith communities, and businesses. Sue previously directed a local development corporation, served as constituent services staff for a city councilman, directed a city-wide anti-racism initiative, founded a faith-based community organization and served on the senior staff of a national faith-based community organization as national training director. Notable accomplishments include leading a successful campaign to transform the governance structure of a major urban school system, engaging Katrina survivors and evacuees in shaping key policy decisions to rebuild their lives, managing a multi-county community health assessment that has provided community-based data to help shape new initiatives, and launching an award-winning community reading initiative. 

Katie FryKatie Fry is a co-founder of Round River Consulting and has taught in public schools and in Developmental Education and Upward Bound programs. Through her work as a medical trainer, Katie developed curriculum for community educators and for medical staff. She has served as Director of Religious Education at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Akron, and as Education Director for Mustard Seed Market. She has conducted dozens of training programs for businesses, organizations and learning institutions designed to develop leadership, build capacity and maximize organizational potential. Her expertise in organizational development led to creating strategic plans for dozens of diverse organizations throughout Northeast Ohio. Her medical experience enabled her to co-manage a regional Community Health Needs Assessment commissioned by three health systems. Katie’s background as a certified organic farmer enables her to view organizations and communities as living systems and naturally leads to work with clients to design educational and community engagement programs to support healthy eating and farming initiatives (e.g. Growing Hope Food Summit 2011, 2013).

CACM Alumni Panel Bio Sketches

Sarah MuirSarah Muir is Human Resources Manager for the Nestlé Stouffer's plant in Solon, OH, a career she started shortly after graduating from KSU’s CACM program.  She is responsible for providing business and people support for a non-union client group of over 1000 employees at various levels and across many functions.  Sarah manages a team of 15 professionals that are responsible for strategic HR, Training & Development and Payroll. Sarah explains her career path: “Other candidates for HR leadership roles may have longer lists of credentials, higher degrees, or specialized HR/Business. So why would the largest food company in the world choose to hire Applied Conflict Management major? Why would they choose me? The answer is simple. We were looking for each other; it was a win-win. In the field of Human Resources, I deal with conflict on a variety of levels and in a variety of areas including recruiting, induction, internal policies and processes, communication strategies, organizational change initiatives, employee development and evaluation, employee relations and governmental compliance. However, while one or many may call attention to a ‘conflict,’ I help manage the situation by reframing it as a ‘challenge.’ This perceptual change minimizes reactive blaming and avoidance while creating a sense of urgency and positive motivation towards a new goal. A challenge immediately creates a sense of urgency to overcome, to succeed, to grow.”

Tim MayerTim Mayer taught English internationally in a number of countries following graduation from KSU and CACM and then accepted a position as Organizer for a grassroots non-profit in Kentucky called the Community Farm Alliance. The mission of Community Farm Alliance is to organize and encourage cooperation among rural and urban citizens through leadership development and grassroots democratic processes. The goal is to ensure an essential, prosperous place for family-scale agriculture in local economies and communities. Part of Tim’s job was to make sure they had a powerful organization, one that gives local people an opportunity to act on their values, so that when the legislators come to town in the middle of winter, citizen needs are more likely to be heard when the Alliance lobbies for just farming, rural, and food policies statewide. Tim recently left the Alliance and is currently in his second year at the Law School of Case Western Reserve University, where he is specializing in public interest law, which he intends to practice in a rural community. 

Kenzi BisbingKenzi Bisbing is the Education Manager at the Oakland Mediation Center in Bloomfield Hills, MI, and a CACM graduate. Previously she was the coordinator of mediation services for TownHall II in Kent. She has been active in the field of mediation, dispute resolution and crisis intervention since 2000. She has a BA in Applied Conflict Management from Kent State University and a MS in Social Administration from Case Western Reserve University. An accomplished trainer, Kenzi has conducted over 130 mediation, conflict resolution, and bullying prevention trainings for adults and youth. She has experience working with a diverse group of students and schools including the inner-city, suburban, rural, private, public, charter and alternative settings. She has also mediated hundreds of cases across Arizona, Texas, Ohio, and Michigan involving truancy, family, guardianship, divorce, and community issues. In Ohio she provided mediation trainings and mentored truancy mediators on behalf of the Supreme Court of Ohio and the Ohio Commission on Dispute Resolution and Conflict Management. Kenzi has also served as Vice-President of the Ohio Community Mediation Association, and is currently the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program State Leader for Michigan.

Kathleen JacksonKathleen Jackson is the Executive Director of Senior Citizen Resources, Inc. in Cleveland, OH. In 2010 Kathleen received her Master of Arts Degree in Liberal Studies with concentrations in Conflict Management, Public Administration/Nonprofit Management and Ecovillage Development from Kent State University. Eco-Village Development is an environmentally-friendly way of community-building and living.  Kathleen studied Eco-Village Development at the Findhorn Foundation in the highlands of Scotland in 2007 and 2009. She graduated from KSU with a BA in Applied Conflict Management in 2008. Kathleen is passionate about improving the lives of the people whom Senior Citizen Resources serves in the Old Brooklyn neighborhood. She and the staff of 19 serve 350 or more seniors per month, providing a variety of services to help seniors live independently. Kathleen and her husband Todd and daughter Katelynn currently live in Old Brooklyn.

We gratefully acknowledge funding and support from the College of Arts and Sciences, the Department of Political Science, and the School of Peace and Conflict Studies.