Kelly Pike presents research at international conference

Focuses on culture and conflict, ethics, mediation, power and decision-making
Kelly Pike talks about her experiences in Japan
Thursday, July 16, 2009

This past June, I had the opportunity to attend the conference of the International Association for Conflict Management (IACM) in Kyoto, Japan. I am very grateful to the office of international programs for providing me with the generous funding that made this experience possible. This being my first IACM conference, and first time presenting at a non-PhD-only consortium, I was both unsure of what to expect and particularly curious to see how my paper would be received by an audience that included some of the top scholars in the field of conflict resolution.

The conference turned out to be very diverse and interesting, and I received both praise and suggestions for further work on my research.  

The opening session for the conference was led by a panel of five members who collectively represented four generations of the history of the organization. They made a point to welcome new members, including myself, and to encourage veterans to take the time to speak with us individually. Immediately I felt like part of the community, eager to learn from others and proud to be making a contribution.  

Conference sessions included a variety of topics within the field of conflict resolution, including such things as culture and conflict, physiology and arousal in negotiations, limits and possibilities of forgiveness, ethics, mediation, power and decision-making.

One afternoon session was geared specifically towards PhD students, where we were asked about our research interests and then paired with a 'guru' that shared similar interests. Through this, I was able to spend an hour, one-on-one, with a professor from Holland who has done years of research in conflict resolution, workplace dynamics and peace-building.

It was a very valuable experience in terms of having the chance to articulate where I'd like to go from here and then receive fresh and valuable feedback from someone with an international perspective I hadn't yet been exposed to. This was a particularly rewarding aspect of the conference. Not just this one occasion, but in general the opportunity to have conversations with people from all over the world, including such places as Ireland, England, Holland, Canada, the United States, and the Caribbean.

This was a perfect venue for me to explore a few research ideas I had been tossing around and also to expand my international network.  

Aside from the conference itself, being in Japan was an exciting and all-encompassing kind of trip. I was afforded the opportunity to meet several of the locals, many of whom invited me into their homes and gave me a glimpse of traditional Japanese culture.  Over the span of a few weeks, I explored different parts of the country, such as Tokyo, Hiroshima and the mountainous area of Hakone.

Tokyo truly never sleeps, with an amazing amount of things to do during the day and an intensely diverse nightlife. In contrast, Hiroshima had a much more calm and sobering feel to it, which inspired me to spend the last part of my visit in quieter areas of the country, re-uniting with some of the people I had met in Tokyo, and together enjoying a tour of the beaches along the southeastern coast. All in all, the experience of attending the IACM conference in Japan was both an academic inspiration and eye-opening cultural experience.