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Ira Magaziner Joins Leaders in Peace Psychology at MSPP to Explore Ways to Transform Violence, Heal Families, Communities and World

September 4, 2008

BOSTON, Sept. 4 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — America must take a major role in finding peaceful and equitable solutions to violence in the world, says Ira Magaziner, chair of the William J. Clinton Foundation policy board and former Senior White House Advisor for Policy Development in the Clinton administration, who will be the keynote speaker at a conference at Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology (MSPP) on September 19 and 20, 2008.

Joining him as major presenters at the conference — “Healing Communities: Using Peace Psychology to Transform Violence” — will be world-renowned pioneers in the peace psychology movement, Dr. Paula Green, founder and director of the Karuna Center for Peacebuilding (http://www.karunacenter.org/) and of CONTACT (Conflict Transformation Across Cultures), and Dr. Kaethe Weingarten, founder and director of the Witnessing Project (http://www.witnessingproject.org/) and associate clinical professor of psychology at Harvard Medical School and director of the Program in Family, Trauma, and Resilience at The Family Institute of Cambridge.

Among the topics to be addressed at the two day conference will be ethnic conflicts around the world; intervening in neighborhoods hurt by gang-related violence; achieving goals of peace in the world’s most conflict ravaged areas and nurturing dialogues between groups in conflict.

*A special highlight of the two days will be the display of art produced by partnerships of Israeli and Palestinian teenagers at Artsbridge, a program that uses art and guided reflective dialogue to bridge the gap between cultures and individuals (http://www.artsbridgecamp.org/).

— What: Healing Communities: Using Peace Psychology to Transform Violence

— Sponsors:The Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology, the Karuna Center for Peacebuilding, The Witnessing Project, Public Conversations Project, Louise Diamond Consulting, and the Tikkun Institute

— Who: Ira Magaziner, Paula Green, PhD, Kaethe Weingarten, PhD, and other leaders in peace psychology

   -- Where: MSPP,  221 Rivermoor Road, West Roxbury    -- When: 8:30 am to 4:30 pm, September 19 and 20   

Magaziner will discuss how, based on his national and global experiences, he views the importance of America’s role at this time in history, in achieving peaceful and equitable solutions to local, regional and world-wide problems. His talk, titled “Our Common Humanity,” will have implications for mental health professionals, community workers and the lay public as to how they might contribute to changing society in a constructive direction. (The William J. Clinton Foundation is dedicated to strengthening the capacity of people in the United States and throughout the world to meet the challenges of global interdependence.)

“Our survival depends on a significant portion of the human race accomplishing a change in worldview, from one of patriotic and tribal loyalties to loyalty to life itself,” says Green, who will present “Reconciliation and forgiveness in divided societies: A psychologist’s reflections from the field.”

Green, who established the Karuna Center in the mid-90s to address the growing global challenges of ethnic, religious and political conflict in the world, is also a professor at the School of International Training Graduate Institute in Brattleboro VT, where she founded and directs CONTACT, (Conflict Transformation Across Cultures), an annual Summer Training Program for international peacebuilders.

In her speech, Green will describe the work she does with nations (at their invitation) to encourage the practice of forgiveness to bring people and societies together. One example will be villagers in Nepal who had to start living again with insurgent Maoists who had committed violence against them. Green asked the villagers what they did when the Maoists returned. “We tied them up,” they responded. “Why?” Green asked. “Because we wanted an apology.” Then she asked what happened. “We kept them tied up for two days and then they apologized so we let them stay in the village.”

“There are such rich gleanings from this story, especially the deep longing for acknowledgement and apology for harms done,” says Green. “For these villagers, there was no requiring or, perhaps even knowing about, a larger Truth and Reconciliation Commission process or request for reparations, but rather a need for an intimate human interaction. With that, imperfect as it was, the barrier was lifted and the wrong-doers brought back into community.”

“Sometimes much more is needed, but this relational process seems to be part of our postwar human need,” says Green, who will be presented with the “Unsung Heroes of Compassion” award (from Wisdom in Action of California) by his Holiness the Dalai Lama, next year.

Weingarten will present “Hope in a Time of Global Despair,” in which she will describe how the “active practice” of hope can make peace possible. The Witnessing Project, which she founded and directs, helps individuals, families and communities turn the passive witnessing of violence and violation into effective action.

“Having a practical approach to hope makes it possible to work in situations that appear hopeless to most people,” she says. “I see hope as something that we do, not something we feel. If you think of hope as an action, many paths open up.”

According to Weingarten, if the future is uncertain, then, by definition, it is not hopeless and good things can happen. An example, she says, is a village in Africa with large numbers of children orphaned by the AIDS epidemic. The community built an orphanage and took responsibility for the future of these children. “That is the way they practiced hope,” she says.

Emerging clearly as a field during the uncertain, fearful period of the Cold War, peace psychology uses psychological principles and theories of nonviolence to develop practices that can prevent violence, manage conflict, and foster social justice. Though a true psychological discipline, it also has strong ties to social, political and community psychology and to the peace and conflict resolution efforts of many other disciplines.

“As mental health practitioners, we are not only concerned with the establishment of inner peace within individuals but also with the establishment of peace in our neighborhoods, our country and the world,” says Dr. Stanley Rosensweig, of MSPP, who is the chief organizer of the conference. He hopes the conference will bring together academic and organizational leaders, clergy, grass-roots workers and members of the general public who are looking for peaceful solutions for complex problems.

For additional information about the conference and about the Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology, go to http://www.mspp.edu/.

Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology

CONTACT: Patti Jacobs of the Massachusetts School of ProfessionalPsychology, +1-617-864-2712, pjacobs12@comcast.net

Web Site: http://www.artsbridgecamp.org/




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