PaCSIA is engaged in policy-relevant applied research. Our research aims to be of practical relevance for the peaceful and sustainable development of people and communities. We aim for a dynamic research-practice relationship, as well as at forging strong meaningful links with communities and people who are not the ‘objects’ of our research, but partners in cross-cultural exchanges of experiences. Given our regional focus on the Pacific Island Region, maritime South East Asia and Australia, we are highly aware of the necessity of a culturally sensitive dialogical and self-reflexive research approach.
Our research focuses on the causes of violent conflict, on conflict prevention, conflict transformation and peacebuilding at the sub-national and local level of societies. We have a particular interest in the interface and interaction of local Indigenous and introduced Western forms of knowing about conflict and peace, and of shaping political community in post-colonial and post-conflict situations.
We trace the processes of hybridization of conflict transformation and political order in so-called fragile environments. Accordingly, our research is cross-disciplinary and deliberately transcends the boundaries of disciplines that limit conventional Western academic ways of thinking about conflict and peace. We are strongly convinced of the necessity and value of fieldwork and qualitative research methods.
PaCSIA has a cohesive team of engaged scholars with long standing experience in a wide range of peace research projects, whose empirical, theoretical and conceptual contributions to research as well as research-based policy advice are nationally and internationally recognized. Internationally, PaCSIA is a node in a strong and viable network of research institutions and has an excellent reputation as a partner in international collaboration.
PaCSIA has conducted research on:
- the interface of international peacebuilding and state-building with the local social dynamics, practices and values of post-conflict societies,
- the interplay of state- and non-state security actors in fragile situations,
- issues of political legitimacy under conditions of hybridity,
- the impact of climate-change induced environmental degradation and social disintegration on migration and conflict in the Pacific,
- the contribution of local customary institutions to peace and governance in Pacific Islands Countries,
- how dialogue processes can assist in conflict transformation and social change.
Consulting – Facilitation & Dialogue
PaCSIA has been engaged in facilitation of dialogue over many years and in many varied circumstances. Inevitably, dialogue occurs against a contextual backdrop characterised by a number of complexities. The interplay of cultural expectations, the tendency to adopt polarised or entrenched positions and the inevitability of constantly changing contexts are all familiar to the PaCSIA team. Our approach to such situations is guided by respectful appreciative enquiry. PaCSIA uses a flexible innovative approach that seeks to build capacity within the dialogue participant group.
PaCSIA team members have experience in facilitation and dialogue, including:
- Work with ni-Vanuatu facilitators, chiefs and community around issues of concern including community governance, conflict resolution and community development.
- Work with Brisbane Indigenous elders and leaders in refugee communities around issues of shared concern including the need to build and maintain peaceful community relations.
- Work with communities in the Asia-Pacific region around issues of community building and governance.
- Work with Australian South Sea Islander communities in South East Queensland around issues of recognition and understanding of the past.
- Work with emerging ethnic community organisations to build strong organisational foundations.
- Work with local peace builders and facilitators in Bougainville to conduct community dialogues on issues of social conflict and political participation.
- Work with government officers and bureaucrats to develop clarity and capacity in responding to community needs and priorities.
Training – Conflict Resolution & Peacebuilding
PaCSIA provides tailored training programs in conflict transformation and peacebuilding. Our trainers and associates have worked with communities from Australia, the South Pacific, South Asia and different African countries, as well as with public service and business organisations. Training programs provide participants with knowledge and skills to enhance constructive interpersonal communication, to mediate conflict in teams and communities, and to plan peacebuilding initiatives on the ground. PaCSIA’s training is interdisciplinary and is influenced by research and practice from adult education, peace studies, conflict resolution, community development, planning, business management and sociology.
In our training design we work with a variety of tools and models, for example Facilitative and Transformative Mediation, Narrative Mediation and Narrative Practice, World Café Conversations, Open Space Technology, Creative Dialogue & Design, Do No Harm and Peace and Conflict Impact Analysis.
What makes PaCSIA’s training approach different from other approaches is, that we design training programs in collaboration with our clients and the target audience. Our workshops are flexible and merge interactive skills development with dialogic conversation about issues that matter to our participants.
PaCSIA also places strong emphasis on working closely with client organisations and local co-trainers. Our trainers engage right from the start with host organisations and design the workshop content together. We also generally precede training by facilitating a facilitator planning workshop in which PaCSIA’s trainers build relationships with local facilitators and ensure that the training is delivered in a manner that respects all cultures. Our trainers are researchers and practitioners. This allows them to present workshops that are practical and reflexive. We see ourselves as catalysts for learning and encourage participants to build on their existing strengths and to try out new skills and practices.
Training programs delivered by PaCSIA include:
- Introduction to mediation.
- Mediation and conciliation training meeting the training requirements under the National Mediator Accreditation System (NMAS) in Australia.
- Culture and conflict resolution.
- Understanding conflict and structuring difficult conversations.
- Creative Dialogue & Design problem-solving workshop facilitation.
- Analysing and planning negotiation processes.
- Facilitation for large-group conversations through Community Café Dialogues.
- Understanding conflict from a complex systems perspective.
Community Café Dialogues
For more than a decade PaCSIA has delivered a series of public community dialogues. The Community Café Dialogues aim to provide an ongoing opportunity for members of different cultural and/or functional communities to meet, share experiences and build relationships. If you or your organisation are interested in using Community Cafés, please contact us.
Participants meet face-to-face in a safe environment, learn about and from each other, and work towards a more cohesive and friendly community which acknowledges diversity as strength. This is accompanied by a shared meal and opportunities to network and better understand each other.
Providing opportunity to meet and learn
The idea for the Community Café program was developed out of our work with different ethnic and cultural communities in Brisbane. Participants from many different backgrounds voiced that there were not enough opportunities to meet with and learn about people from different nationalities, ethnicities, cultural backgrounds and faiths.
Brisbane is a culturally diverse city but contact with people from other backgrounds often occurs only at public events and festivals.
This contact is often limited to watching artists perform or savouring food from a different country. We wanted to give people an opportunity to learn more about each other and to develop relationships on a deeper level.
Community Cafés are based on the World Café Conversations facilitation method in which participants engage in small group conversations about questions that matter to them. This helps to build relationships and understand different perspectives.