‘Promoting Nonviolence, Addressing Hate, Preventing Global Conflicts: The Role of Media’
SPOKANE, Wash. – Can Facebook and Twitter users address hate and prevent violent conflict half a world away? Can texting and crowdsourcing actually build peace and promote nonviolent social change? Can vulnerable populations protect themselves, and be protected, from exploitation of media outlets for political or ethnic violence?
These and other timely questions are the focus of “Promoting Nonviolence, Addressing Hate, Preventing Global Conflicts: The Role of Media,” a conference featuring internationally recognized scholars and practitioner-experts, held 8 a.m.-3:30 p.m., Friday, May 31 at the Portland State University Smith Memorial Student Union in Portland, Ore.
The Gonzaga University Institute for Hate Studies, the PSU department of conflict resolution, and the Jubitz Family Foundation War Prevention Initiative are organizing the event. Sponsorship comes from the United States Institute of Peace, the Institute for International Education, and the Jubitz Family Foundation.
Peace-building scholar Joseph G. Bock and Internet extremism expert Abbee Corb headline the special one-day event. Bock serves as director of Global Health Training in the Eck Institute for Global Health at the University of Notre Dame. Bock authored “The Technology of Nonviolence: Social Media and Violence Prevention” (2012), which chronicles technology-enhanced efforts in Africa, Asia, and the United States to stop violence before it happens. He finds solid evidence of success in violence prevention – often at the local level – through social media usage. Bock, who also serves as a teaching professor in the Eck Institute and university liaison with Catholic Relief Services, has worked for international nongovernmental organizations including Catholic Relief Services and American Refugee Committee, and has extensive experience in humanitarian relief and development.
Corb is a top international expert on hate, extremism, anti-Semitism, and terrorism pertaining to the Internet. She is the open source intelligence specialist with the Hate Crime Extremism Investigative team of Canada and an affiliate of the Google Ideas-supported Against Violent Extremism Network (AVE). For several years, Corb held a similar role with the Simon Wiesenthal Centre. She is a published author and Silver Screen award-winning filmmaker and screenwriter for projects including, “Where Does Hate Begin?” and “What is a Hate Crime?”
“The effectiveness of political propaganda, and the misuses of media to spread hate and promote violent conflict, are very old problems,” said John Shuford, director of the Gonzaga University Institute for Hate Studies. “The posting of ‘The Innocence of Muslims’ on YouTube contributed to outbreak of violent protests in Arabic, Muslim, and Western nations alike on Sept. 11, 2012. The Interhamwe in Rwanda formed a radio station that spread racist propaganda that, in turn, fueled the genocide.”
“Political propaganda became very effective for mass atrocities in the 20th century,” said Rob Gould, director of the PSU department of conflict resolution, “but really, the use of media outlets for violent ends is timeless.”
“Media outlets today are so numerous and widely accessible, and bits of data can traverse instantaneously the entire world and radically transform lived realities,” said Patrick Hiller, director of the Jubitz Family Foundation War Prevention Initiative. “We must explore how, and to what extent, social media and other media outlets, and the users of these, can help address hate and prevent violent conflict, perhaps even build peace and promote nonviolent change.”
One aim of the conference is to foster outcomes-focused conversation on nonviolent peace-building at the levels of skill-building, research, policy analysis and policymaking, and cross-sector collaboration. Other conference highlights include workshops led by members of international NGOs and media outlets such as Mercy Corps and Peace Voice, as well as clergy speaking to the role of religious leadership and organizations in building peace.
The conference is expected to draw top scholars, members of law enforcement, representatives of nongovernmental organizations, conflict resolution and peace-building practitioners, experts on public policy and social change, human rights activists, social media innovators, and engaged global citizens.
All conference sessions, including the featured talks by Bock and Corb, are free and open to the public, but preregistration is required. Click the following link for a complete list of presenters, the conference schedule, and venue and registration information. Direct conference inquiries to John Shuford at (509) 313-3665 or via email.