My name is Keil Eggers. I’m currently completing my M.A. in International Peace Studies at the UN-Mandated University for Peace. My thesis is about structural conflict resolution using the innovative approach to narrative research called SenseMaker® (Civic Engagement). To learn more, read more below!
Excerpt from the Thesis Introduction:
The motivation for the study is reflective of my development within the field of peace studies. After my undergraduate studies at George Mason University’s School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution, I began work at Kansas University’s Center for Public Partnerships as an evaluator for community grant programs in Kansas. In that position I was acutely aware of the inability of the federal indicators to help programs better develop their practice. The measures themselves became more of a focus than the work, and nearly everyone involved knew how disconnected the reports could be from a rapidly-moving and complex context. In my Master’s program at UPEACE, the same problem reared its head when I investigated monitoring and evaluation of UN peacekeeping programs. The M & E processes often failed to “get local buy-in” because the measures were imposed from outside and not relevant to the context of conflict or ‘post-conflict.’ The project seeks to improve the field from the evaluator’s perspective- how can complexity-based tools for evaluation be utilized to design better interventions in the complex and sometimes chaotic world of conflict?
My second motivation is derived from my experience as a student of Prof. Johan Galtung. I have worked with the Galtung-Institute for Peace Theory and Peace Practice since November of 2014. Director Naakow Grant-Hayford has been a constant mentor in my development as a peace scholar- guiding me through the thousands of pages of peace theory comprised of hundreds of books and countless articles. As a dedicated Galtungian (and a good one I hope), I have incorporated Prof. Galtung’s foundational peace theory into countless academic projects as well as my work as an evaluator. The TRANSCEND method for conflict transformation is a comprehensive approach to conflict analysis and resolution. It’s truly transdisciplinary, bringing massive theoretical, macrohistorical, and philosophical knowledge to bear in the mission of transforming violent conflicts and building peace. I believe that a peace practitioner bears the professional responsibility to develop this theoretical knowledge to improve their practice. This is a requirement in any discipline and should also apply to peace studies, a field where the legitimacy afforded by consistent training and approach are critical to gaining a foothold in the mainstream. It should be sufficiently clear that my complaint lies not in the theory or the method. The problem that I have encountered is precisely the proper manner in which to disseminate this theory, method, and worldview to a wider audience without alienating potentially interested parties with argot and an overly-academic approach. So, as a Galtungian, my goal is to expand the utility of Prof. Galtung’s method and transcend the boundaries between peace professional and the general population by exploring ‘distributed conflict transformation.’ The SenseMaker® technology, to be explained later, could democratize the TRANSCEND method and create new roles for the Galtungian practitioner. This is a radical proposition, but I believe that a more expansive vision is required for our academic and professional lineage to meet the challenges posed by this moment in history.
My third and final motivation is tinted by my critical, activist history. I consider myself to be a member of the American Left, or what’s left of it. At S-CAR, I was consistently involved in student organizing around various conflicts on campus and beyond. Although I was less committed to these ideas at the time, I was greatly influenced by Derek Sweetman, Michael English, and Rich Rubenstein’s work on Critical Conflict Resolution. Their work was the strongest attempt that I had seen at integrating critical theory (Marx and the Frankfurt School, primarily) into conflict resolution practice. Their CCR framework defines several roles for the peace researcher and practioner that are promising. However, Rubenstein’s 2017 book Resolving Structural Conflict outlines several challenges that persist in the development of this practice. The address these problems, the project aims to integrate structural conflict resolution with the two perspectives mentioned above to enable conflict transformation at the level of structure.
 Richard E. Rubenstein, Resolving Structural Conflict, Routledge Studies in Peace and Conflict Resolution (Abingdon, Oxon: New York, NY : Routledge, 2017).