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INSTITUTE FOR ENVIRONMENTAL DIPLOMACY AND SECURITY (IEDS) James Jeffords Center University of Vermont, Email Contact: email@example.com Mailing address: 153 South Prospect St., Burlington VT 05401, USA Vision statement prepared by founding director Saleem H. Ali Environmental resources are an essential basis for human survival and can spur communities towards conflict but also be a motivator for cooperation. The Institute for Environmental Diplomacy and Security seeks to be a pioneering research center dedicated to both the study and practice of techniques that can assist in resolving environmental conflicts, and in using ecological processes as a peace-building tool. Such praxis of action-oriented research is increasingly important for policy-makers and community decision-makers. Operating at the confluence of natural and social science, the institute aims to engage communities that have endured conflicts with multiple causes and consider what role natural resources have played in their escalation and consider ways by which environmental factors can also catalyze cooperation. An important distinguishing feature of the institute will be its ability to operate at multiple scales of small-scale community conflicts which Vermont can provide fertile ground for study while also engaging larger international conflicts. The location of the institute near an international border and between the triad of three important international cities, Montreal, Ottawa and New York, provides additional geographic leverage to such larger diplomatic activities. The institute operates under 3 broad themes which capture this vision: a) Borderlands: Boundaries in physical and cognitive space can be defining themes of diplomacy. The institute will explore how human territoriality can be most constructively configured so geopolitical boundaries work within ecological principles. b) Resource Values: Natural resources are valued in economic and ecological terms and often a disjuncture in these values can lead to conflict. Finding effective mechanisms for ascribing and communicating value will be studied and implemented in institute activities.
c) Pragmatic Peace: Public policy has often been polarized between “hawks” and “doves” with either side dismissing each other’s motives and methods. The institute will attempt to reconcile these differences by promoting a practically implementable vision of peace. Within these themes, there are four cross-cutting programs of operation (consider as a crosscutting “matrix” where each theme will have at least one exemplar of operational areas): a) Experiential learning: The location of the institute at a major land grant university provides ample opportunities for bridging teaching opportunities with fieldwork and problem-solving. In the planning tradition of charrettes, coupled with the emerging genre of service learning, the institute aims to develop a program where experiencing the dynamics of a conflict will help students and professionals alike and also provide a revenue base for the financial viability of the institute. UVM Continuing Education will assist with the planning and administration of these learning modules which will also be developed in collaboration with the planning committee of the proposed environmental policy doctoral program. b) Measured Mediation: Working with an existing network of mediators and in partnership with regional centers for mediation and conflict resolution, the institute will provide a forum for understanding the value added by mediating disputes. c) Participatory Action Research: Basic research can be coupled with applied problemsolving through the emerging field of participatory action research. Environmental conflict resolution provides an opportunity to engage in a program of research that brings together a wide range of disciplines. The institute will provide an opportunity for researchers across UVM and our partners to engage in research proposals to provide empirical support for our work. d) Clinical Case Compendia: Case development is now widely respected as an effective pedagogic technique and also of great value in corporate and governmental benchmarking. Leveraging UVM’s existing relationship with Vermont Law School and Champlain College to developing a teaching case library in environmental diplomacy. The institute will initially have a small internal committee of UVM and affiliated institutions (Vermont Law School and Champlain College) and an external advisory board comprising leading scholars and practitioners in the field. The director of the institute will be assisted by program coordinators in each of the three thematic areas. In addition, there will be specific project managers as needed for new initiatives and contracts. Here is a list of some immediate specific project tasks which the institute will be embarking upon: 2
a) The first set of cases are going to be developed on mineral conflicts with Native American communities. Rio Tinto Corporation has agreed to provide access to some of their negotiators for interview in developing the initial set of these cases. The Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development has agreed to partner on this and the initial cases will be published under joint logos with the Kennedy School of Government. A memorandum of understanding has also been agreed upon between the Akwasasne, St. Regis Mohawk community to conduct research on environmental conflicts in this border region between the tribal community, the industrial plants on the border. Given the mandate of the Jeffords center to engage indigenous communities in Vermont, a case will also be developed on the prospective conflict over the power line that is planned across Lake Champlain and will involve the lands of the Abenaki community, near Swanton. b) A clinical program in partnership with Vermont Law School to consider how environmental conflicts are handled through ADR (alternative dispute resolution processes) in the shadow of litigation. This will be manifest through a new course which will aim to have students from both schools working together and be the first opportunity to show a clear collaboration at the curricular level for the existing joint-degree program between RSENR and VLS. We will start with Vermont-based and regional conflicts to make sure the local and regional mandate of the Jeffords center is not lost with my larger international pursuits. Jeffords student fellow, Rebecca Pincus will be working on this project with the assistance of Jared Margolis, VLS graduate and Burlington-based attorney. Students at VLS will prepare the cases in collaboration with RSENR students as part of a course assignment. c) Developing an atlas of ecological cooperation to showcase the positive side of environmental diplomacy in borderlands. This program has already received initial support from the Swiss government through a grant to the University of Geneva and I will use my new partnership with the National Geographic Society to showcase this project. NGS has agreed to host the atlas on their web site. d) Mediation roster being prepared for Vermont-based mediating professionals who will be profiled on the IEDS web site and will also contribute content to our research and teaching efforts. IEDS aims to be a unique organization which informs policy decisions at multiple levels, and is also deeply rooted in the communities it serves with care and constancy.