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Article Released Wed-5th-July-2006 14:12 GMT
Contact: Susan Russell Institution: Northern Illinois University
 Conflict Resolution projects in the Philippines

"Bridging the Gap: Engaging a New Generation in the Southern Philippines in Inter-Ethnic Dialogue and Conflict Resolution". "The Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao and Majority-Minority Relations in the Southern Philippines: Religion, Education, Community and Political Process."


Bridging the Gap: Engaging a New Generation in the Southern Philippines in Inter-Ethnic Dialogue and Conflict Resolution.

This is an international youth exchange project on inter-ethnic dialogue and conflict resolution for Muslim, Christian and indigenous cultures in the southern Philippines.

This project is run by the Center for Southeast Asian Studies (CSEAS) and the International Training Office (ITO) of Northern Illinois University (NIU). It has been a three year project so far that has trained over 75 youth and 25 adult activists in Mindanao. Each spring, the project hosts a four-week institute at NIU for 30 Muslim and non-Muslim Filipino students and adult leaders from the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

The goal of the institute is to transmit knowledge and build strategies among participants about ways to foster interethnic cooperation and a variety of forms of conflict resolution. By drawing on the example of civic society and diversity in the United States and by understanding the larger regional context in which contemporary conflicts in Mindanao exist, participants acquire new perspectives to support future grassroots efforts to build closer cooperation and understanding among the different cultural, religious, and political groups in the southern Philippines.

This project is undertaken in partnership with Capitol University in Cagayan de Oro City and with the International Visitors Program-Philippines, and builds on the Philippine expertise of the major project supervisors.

The project is funded by the Youth Exchange Division, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, U.S. Department of State. It is directed by Dr. Susan Russell, Anthropology, and Dr. Lina Davide-Ong, International Training Office. The in-country project coordinators are Dr. Nagasura Madale, Vice President for Research and Extension, and Dr. Noemi Medina, Director of the Mindanao Peace Building Institute of Capital University in Cagayan de Oro City.

The participants each year comprise 25 students, aged 15-17 years, and 5 adult leaders who are selected from all geographic parts of the ARMM and nearby areas in an open, merit-based, recruitment strategy.

The institute focuses on four key teaching modules:
1) volunteerism and civil society, emphasizing particularly the institutions and organizations that mediate between the national government and individuals;
2) contemporary American institutions in state and civil society that support ethnic diversity, affirmative action, and religious pluralism;
3) the underlying premises and practices of conflict resolution; and
4) the ethnic, ritual, historical, and moral dimensions of similarity and difference that underlie majority/minority ethnic and political ties in Southeast Asia.

Through a variety of academic experiences and cultural visits to important historical landmarks and civic organizations in the Midwest, participants meet, learn, and exchange views with key individuals about ways to support a peaceful but ethnically and religiously plural society.


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The Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao and Majority-Minority Relations in the Southern Philippines: Religion, Education, Community and Political Process.


A capacity building institute and study tour for government, NGO, religious and women leaders from the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao, funded by U.S. Department of State.

NOTES on the ARMM Program

Goals and Objectives:

The major goals of this project are to
(a) build the capacities of local leaders in the ARMM (Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao) to face new challenges and opportunities for strengthening the foundation of peace and development in Mindanao; and (b) promote a better understanding of the United States--its people, culture, values, and civic institutions.

The specific objectives are to:
1) sharpen the participants’ skills in conflict resolution and management, peace leadership, respect for diversity, and community activism;
2) provide core skills for forging partnerships among local government units, peace and development organizations, and national government agencies;
3) develop in the participants an appreciation of the cultural and ethnic diversity of the ARMM through a comparative understanding of majority and minority cultures in the U.S.;
4) provide opportunity for participants to engage in dialogue with their U.S. counterparts on civic participation, human rights and justice, tolerance, participatory development and grassroots empowerment;
5) set up vertical and horizontal partnerships with private voluntary organizations (PVOs) and NGOs in the U.S. and in the Philippines to share lessons learned and to leverage resources and knowledge;
6) sharpen the participants’ skills in designing concrete cooperation and action plans on religion, communities, education and political processes.

The U.S.-based Professsional Development Program (PDP) -- May 31 – June 22, 2006

The PDP will provide a rich and varied, but at the same time coherent and carefully structured agenda to provide the participants
(1) substantial knowledge and enhanced understanding of how religion, education, community, and political leaders interact in the U.S.,
(2) an enriched appreciation for cultural and religious diversity, understanding and cooperation, and
(3) core skills and tools in peace leadership, community activism, human rights and justice, civic participation, and building linkages.

The program will have two major types of activities:
(a) academic sessions such as workshops, lectures and facilitated discussions, and
(b) study tour/visits to Salt Lake City (Utah), Chicago and Springfield (Illinois) to interact and dialogue with government officials, community, interethnic and inter-religious leaders.

It will provide them with a clear understanding of American institutions of tolerance, diversity, and expose them to the culturally and religiously plural social life of rural and urban America.

The proposed curriculum for the PDP is as follows:
· The Politics of Race, Ethnicity, and Inequality (the role of race and ethnicity in American politics and public policy)
· Understanding the Cultural, Ethnic and Religious Components of Conflict
· The Role of Religion and Education in Shaping Community and Political Life in the U.S.
· Linking Community Activists and Policy Makers: The Bottom-Up Peace Process
· Community Empowerment and Grassroots Development (Building Community, Building Peace)
· Strategic Management for NGOs/Enhancing the Peacemaking Capacities of Organizations
· Promoting Human Rights and Justice
· Conflict Resolution and Management, Mediation, and Negotiation
· Women Waging Peace on Gender and Conflict
· Media and the Arts as Tools for Peace
· Good Government Principles and Funds Management




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Keywords associated to this article: conflict resolution; capacity building
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