Ambassador John W. McDonald Peacebuilding Clinic
In Spring 2016, with the initiative of Executive Director Adam Zemans, the Institute for Multi-Track Diplomacy (IMTD) launched the Ambassador John W. McDonald Peacebuilding Clinic, a cutting-edge clinical model for Conflict Analysis and Resolution (CAR), named for CEO and retired Ambassador John W. McDonald’s legacy. The Clinic’s mission is to teach peacebuilding in a way that provides a holistic bridge between the theory and practice of conflict resolution work. Based off of best practices in clinical education in the legal, medical, and social work fields, the Clinic convenes graduate students, professors, NGO practitioners, and funders in order to promote more effective and efficient conflict prevention and transformation.
The need for clinical education in peacebuilding arises from the wide gap between theory and practice in the field, and, consequently, between academia and on-the-ground organizations seeking to prevent and transform conflicts. As such, our Clinic model provides Conflict Analysis and Resolution students with experiential learning opportunities unprecedented in the field of peacebuilding. We seek to bridge these growing gaps between students and practitioners, scholarly and experiential learning, and life as a student and that of a young professional.
IMTD’s Clinical Education program aims to provide the theoretical and operational framework for the Clinic. We have formed partnerships with Conservation International – Bolivia, as part of IMTD’s Climate Change and Human Security team’s efforts in the Lake Titicaca region, as well as the Children’s Peace Initiative – Kenya, with whom we work closely. These partnerships will be key in integrating community-based knowledge into the Clinic as well as academic perspectives and understandings.
As we build upon these partnerships, the foundation of clinical education, and best practices, we hope to develop a robust model for a curriculum that will continue to grow with the help of other higher education institutions in the Washington, D.C. area, such as George Mason University’s School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution. Our future goals entail housing a for-credit, one semester course consisting of 12-16 graduate students centering on multi-disciplinary CAR methods for peacebuilding. Going forward, we intend to formalize our curriculum goals, continue to foster partnerships with organizations and institutions, and potentially develop a model for a two-semester educational experience.