Peace Fellows Blog
News, stories & reports from our current Peace Fellows
The Rotary Peace Fellows blog is where you can find news and reports from our current Peace Fellows. This gives our fellows the opportunity to share their stories, news from the Rotary Peace Centre, and report on events they have participated in at the University of Bradford.
To read blog posts from previous Peace Fellows you can find our blog archive.
An American in Yorkshire and the winding paths to peace
Christopher Pieper, MA Peace, Conflict and Development
Christopher Pieper is a practising attorney who works for the state of Utah. He is currently on sabbatical as a Rotary Peace Fellow at the University of Bradford and is accompanied by his wife and five children. He has written about his experience for the Yorkshire Post in an article which was published this month.
Rotary Peace Centers Conference 2020, Cairo
Terrance Stevenson - Rotary Peace Fellow, MSc Economics and Finance for Development
As our plane approached the ancient city of Alexandria, I peered out of my window to behold a stunning view of the Mediterranean Sea meeting the Nile river at dawn. A fitting prelude to an amazing five days in Cairo - “the city of a thousand minarets". As a student of peace studies, I have been captivated by the historic and modern struggles of the Middle East. I’m grateful to have experienced Egypt — it’s people and culture — nearly a decade after the Arab Spring revolutions swept the region. It was an invaluable opportunity that broadened my perspectives on conflict, peace and resilience.
We enjoyed a great conversation on the role of ‘local’ elements in peacebuilding. Professor Giorgio Shani of International Christian University opened with research into Liberal Peace, and Post Western Peacebuilding. Professor Owen Green, one of our University of Bradford professors, followed with insights into policy implications of violence reduction. The session was both enlightening and relevant given the increasing role of civil society in peace processes within the Middle East and around the world.
After an amazing lunch which featured many local Egyptian dishes, we attended a session focused on peace and conflict resolution. The session featured Dr.Morgan Brigg of the University of Queensland, Dr. Nehal Fahmy, a former UN Staff, Advisor to Egypt’s National Council for Human Rights, Dr. Chantana Wungaeo of Chulalongkorn University and Nico Schneider a current peace fellow at the University of Queensland. Each presentation was a guided journey into a unique area of conflict resolution. My highlight of the session was Nico’s presentation on the role of peacetech, a subject I’ve engaged deeply during my time at PeaceTech Lab.
On Thursday, I was honored to sit on a panel of current Rotary Peace Fellows and share my experiences so far. It was wonderful to hear from the other current and past fellows and get an understanding of the challenges, accomplishments and impact the fellowship has had on their lives. I shared about my life in Bradford, England, my dissertation topic and summer research plans, and my extracurricular activities, which include playing on our peace department’s football (soccer) team. The audience seemed to enjoy hearing about our friendly “War and Peace” rivalry with King’s College’s war department and our annual Tolstoy Cup match.
We spent our final day in Cairo taking in as much as we could, from the food (especially my favorite, the spiced lamb), to the culture and of course the pyramids. Our awesome tour guide took us quite literally “off the beaten path”, on a camelback adventure through the pyramid complex, three excursions into ancient mastabas (underground tombs), a close up of the Great Sphinx, and a tour of the ancient village that has resided in the shadows of the pyramids for centuries.
From the unique hospitality to the warm conversations of local community members, I got a sense of Cairo's resilience and optimism. In 2019, Egypt dropped off the list of the top 10 countries impacted by terrorism. While this is but one element of their complex struggle toward peace and human wellbeing, it’s a fact that lends to a sense of hope I felt as I boarded our plane back to Bradford. As I think back at my journey through ancient geometric wonders, down the sparkling ancient River Nile, engaging locals and visiting scholars, I am filled with a continued hope for peace that will stay with me throughout my fellowship experience and beyond.
Terrance Stevenson, February 2020
Rotary Peace Fellows take Oslo
Rachel Brooks - Rotary Peace Fellow, MA International Relations & Security Studies
Wandering streets full of wall art with social justice themes and markets teeming with food stalls of fantastic international flavors, I could not help but reflect on how lucky I felt to be in Oslo, Norway with the 2019-2020 cohort of Bradford Rotary peace fellows, Uppsala Rotary peace fellows, Rotarians, faculty, and staff. In January 2020, the group of us ventured to Oslo for a few days to meet with some inspiring organizations and people. This journey was my first time in Scandinavia, and the learnings from this trip will stay with me throughout my studies at Bradford and into my career in international peace and security.
Our first session was a lively discussion at the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to discuss the work of the Section for Peace and Conflict Resolution with Dag Halvor Nylander and Torleif Kveim. Next, we visited the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs, also known as NUPI, where Kari Osland shared some of NUPI’s work and the fascinating research in the Peace, Conflict and Development research group. That evening, we enjoyed dinner and fellowship together as representatives from Bradford, Uppsala, and Rotary came together to share experiences and get to know each other over a delicious meal.
The next day, we travelled to the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO) offices for some stimulating presentations followed by question-and-answer periods. First, we heard from Professor Stein Tønnessen on his research around social media in armed conflict in Myanmar. As an MA student in international relations and security studies focusing on how information spreads online and its impact, this was one of my favorite sessions, as it directly relates to my passions and studies regarding the role of technological innovation in peace and security. After some coffee and conversation, we then heard from Senior Researcher Sirianne Dahlum on her in-depth research examining protests as part of PRIO’s Securing Victory project.
Following lunch, we visited the Norwegian Nobel Institute and had an incredible roundtable discussion with the institute’s director, Olav Njølstad, which was another highlight of the program for me. It was unbelievable to sit in a room surrounded by Nobel Prize awardees’ information decorated across the walls and then to stand in the room where those award decisions are discussed and ultimately made.
During a bit of free time, some of us ventured to the Viking Ship Museum and later watched the sunset over the water surrounded by sculptures and art, which was a fitting end to an amazing journey. I left Oslo full of inspiration and excitement for new learnings at each place visited and new connections with the other fellows at Bradford and Uppsala as well as Rotarians, faculty, staff, and speakers.
Rachel Brooks, January 2020