Transcending Boundaries to Build a Global Civil Society: The Role of International Education

More than 100 international education professionals met at the NAFSA 2014 Ron Moffatt Seminar for Peace and the Global Civil Society to discuss the ways in which international education could contribute to the creation of a global civil society.

Presentation Materials

Seminar Program
The seminar was held in San Diego, California, May 30–June 1, 2014. More than 100 international education professionals from around the world heard presentations and participated in discussions and networking opportunities. The program provides the schedule of events, session titles, and the presenters' names and institutions.

Keynote Address: Dr. Michael Ignatieff
Michael Ignatieff (Harvard University) opened the seminar with a keynote address about the transformative global experiences that can occur within a classroom. He asked participants to consider the profound effects that an international education can have on students, including the dilemmas of:

  • Expatriation: Can I go home?
  • Relevance: What can I take back?
  • Privilege: Will they hold my education against me?

Identity-based Conflicts and Strategies for Peacebuilding
Necla Tschirgi (University of San Diego) presented an overview of the Alliance for Peacebuilding's report Peacebuilding 2.0: Mapping the Boundaries of an Expanding Field. Dr. Tschirgi discussed:

  • Definitions and examples of sectarian barriers and conflicts (within nations and across national boundaries);
  • Theories of conflict resolution for sectarian conflicts; and
  • Examples of both successful and unsuccessful approaches.

Karen Murphy (150kb Adobe PDF) (Facing History and Ourselves) provided an overview of the work of Facing History and Ourselves, including a discussion of opportunities in international education to overcome sectarian barriers and conflicts, and to build peace. The work of Facing History and Ourselves seeks to understand how young people develop as ethical civic actors with the capacities to support and nurture their respective democracies.

Small Group Discussions
Participants discussed these presentations in small groups around the possibilities for:

  • Resolution of sectarian barriers and conflicts;
  • Actions at the local level; and
  • Opportunities for international education.

Panel: Resource Disparities and Conflicts (1.6mb Adobe PDF )
Roger-Mark DeSouza (Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars) and Michael Klare (Hampshire College) presented on the role of resource disparities in conflicts. DeSouza, the director of Population, Environmental Security, and Resilience, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, shared a presentation on Natural Resources, Conflict, and Peacebuilding. Michael Klare, professor and director of the Five College Program in Peace and World Security Studies, Hampshire College, shared his thoughts on resource-driven maritime disputes, including causes, risks, and possible solutions. This panel provided definitions and examples of resource disparities and conflicts (within nations and across national boundaries) and discussed issues of sustainability, including:

  • Theories of resource reallocation and conflict resolution for resource conflicts;
  • Examples of successful approaches to resolution of conflicts and of sustainable practices (indigenous and cross-national);
  • Examples of unsuccessful approaches to resolution of conflicts and of unsustainable practices (indigenous and cross-national);
  • How successful approaches contribute to the building of a global civil society; and
  • Opportunities in international education that contribute to understanding/overcoming these barriers and conflicts.

Small Group Discussions
Participants met in small groups to address the questions:

  • How can we better link international programs in higher education to academic classes focusing on world problems and issues of peace and justice?
  • What models do we already have for this type of collaboration across disciplines and international programs offices?
  • What pitfalls do we need to avoid in developing programs that focus on issues of peace and justice around the world?
  • How can we better advertise the availability of such programs already in existence and, perhaps, build on their successes?
  • How can our work help to define and to provide direction to internationalization efforts at colleges and universities worldwide such that they are more open to responding in very strong and proactive ways to the moral imperatives of our times—reducing economic disparities, resolving conflicts nonviolently, and adopting sustainable lifestyles?

Approach and Impact of the Olive Tree Initiative
Representatives provided an overview of the history and purpose of the Olive Tree Initiative.

The Women PeaceMakers Program, an essential documentation and networking for international peacebuilding and education (2.3mb Adobe PDF)
Dee Aker provided an overview of the Women PeaceMakers Program.

Final Small Group Discussions (160kb Adobe PDF)
Participants broke into groups by area of job focus to discuss ways in which their work in international education could contribute to the development of a global civil society.

Keynote Speaker

Michael Ignatieff, PhD, is a professor of practice at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. He is a Canadian writer, teacher, and former politician. He holds a doctorate in history from Harvard University and has held academic posts at Kings College, Cambridge, and at the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. He served in the Parliament of Canada and was leader of the Liberal Party of Canada. His books include The Needs of Strangers, (1984), Scar Tissue, (1992), Blood and Belonging, (1993) The Warriors Honour, (1997) Isaiah Berlin, (1998) The Rights Revolution, (2000) Human Rights as Politics and Idolatry, (2001), The Lesser Evil: Political Ethics in an Age of Terror, (2004). He holds a joint professorial appointment at the Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto, and at the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University.


Roger-Mark De Souza is the director of population, environmental security, and resilience for the Wilson Center. He leads programs on climate change resilience, reproductive and maternal health, environmental security, and livelihoods, including the Center’s Global Sustainability and Resilience Program, Environmental Change and Security Program, and Maternal Health Initiative. Previously, De Souza was Population Action International’s vice president of research and director of PAI’s climate program. From 2007 to 2010, he was the director of foundation and corporate relations at the Sierra Club, and before that, he directed Population Reference Bureau’s Population, Health, and Environment Program.

Michael Klare is the Five College Professor of Peace and World Security Studies, a joint appointment at Amherst College, Hampshire College, Mount College, Smith College, and the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, a position he has held since 1985. Professor Klare has written widely on U.S. foreign policy, the arms trade, and international resource politics. He is the author or coauthor of 14 books, including Resource Wars (2001), Blood and Oil (2004), Rising Powers, Shrinking Planet (2008), and The Race for What’s Left (2012). He has also written for many journals, including Current History, Foreign Affairs, Harper’s, Le Monde Diplomatique, Newsweek, and Scientific American.

Karen L. Murphy, PhD, is the international director for Facing History and Ourselves, an international educational and professional development NGO. Murphy oversees Facing History’s program development and implementation in countries outside the United States and Canada. She has a particular interest in countries emerging from mass violence and/or in transition, and she has done work within and on Bosnia, Colombia, Mexico, Northern Ireland, Rwanda, and South Africa. She is particularly interested in the role that educational interventions play in the development of stability and peaceful coexistence. Murphy has also published journal articles, presented papers, and lectured on the (often neglected) role of education in transitional justice processes. She is on the board of New Haven Academy, a Connecticut-based public school, Shikaya, a human rights NGO in South Africa, and the Human Dignity and Humiliation Studies Network. Murphy is also a member of the Technical Expert Group for the Inter-Agency Network for Education in Emergencies, on the editorial board of Intercultural Education, and she is codirecting a multiyear research project studying youth and civic engagement in the United States, Northern Ireland, and South Africa funded by the Spencer Foundation.

Dr. Necla Tschirgi is professor of practice in human security and peacebuilding at the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies at the University of San Diego and coexecutive editor of the Journal of Peacebuilding and Development. A native of Turkey, Dr. Tschirgi received her BA and MA in political science at the American University of Beirut and her PhD in political economy at the University of Toronto. Her international career has spanned research, policy analysis, and teaching at the intersection of security and development. Prior to joining the Kroc School, Dr. Tschirgi served as an in-house consultant/senior policy adviser with the Peacebuilding Support Office at the United Nations Secretariat in New York from 2007 to 2009. Previously, she was the vice president of the International Peace Academy (IPA) in New York where she also led IPA’s Security-Development Nexus research program from 2001-2005. Her recent publications include: “Securitization and Peacebuilding” in the Routledge Handbook of Peacebuilding (2013); Security and Development: Searching for Critical Connections, edited with Michael S. Lund and Francesco Mancini (Lynne Rienner Publications, 2010); “The Security-Politics-Development Nexus: The Lessons of State-building in Sub-Saharan Africa” (EU Working Paper, European University Institute, 2010); “The UN's Peacebuilding Commission: Escaping Path Dependency” (Working Paper prepared for the Centre for International Policy Studies and NUPI, 2010).