Prologue to Research
As we all set out on our field research to diverse corners of the globe, I have been thinking about what aspects I am drawn to and what, on an individual level, I hope to observe over the course of my journey.
Two things have stood out to me in my preparations - partnerships and measurement.
On partnerships, I owe this project and opportunity through Generations For Peace's partnership with Georgetown and their generosity. This type of partnership between academics and practitioners is particularly interesting to me, as I believe there is even greater potential for academia and peacebuilding organizations to collaborate in the future. Graduate students can gain much needed research experience and hands-on learning partnering with organizations, while organizations seek to fill a gap in knowledge and improve best practices through more rigorous research and evaluation. I've had the privilege of exploring this partnership firsthand with Dance 4 Peace in DC and now with PeacePlayers International as the host for several of my summer research sites. I believe that sports and peacebuilding programs have the capacity to lead the waybin innovative partnerships and a new culture of sharing and dialogue in the field. Why S&P programs? Even though competitiveness is implicit in sport, so is teamwork. In order to achieve their goals of promoting peace, often in deeply divided communities, these programs must embody their mission of collaboration and cooperation, not just in their curriculum but in their relationships with the wider field.
As such, my preliminary musings, leave me with some questions to explore further: How are partnerships with academic institutions, other organizations, donors, etc. being leveraged currently? What new types of partnerships could benefit these organizations based on their needs and the needs of the communities they work in? How can we alter the competitive culture of non-profit work to promote more collaboration?
Measurement is a whole other puzzle, though, the two are undoubtedly intwined. Coming out of my resent work and research on monitoring and evaluation, I have more questions than answers when it comes to how best to measure peacebuilding. In the field, I hope to observe not only how M&E is currently being carried out at the different sites, but uncover ways that existing models can be amalgamated and new models integrated to create more effective practices. By asking practitioners what challenges they face in conducting and analyzing M&E, I hope to have a more comprehensive understanding of the remaining gaps in this area. I imagine that many of the challenges include capturing the anecdotal evidence, pairing that with quantitative data when appropriate, and longitudinal evaluation. In regards to M&E, the partnerships discussed before will be extremely instrumental in reaching higher levels of achievement. And, again, the field of sport and peacebuilding has the opportunity to impact the wider peacebuilding field with innovative practices.
I set out for this research with a blank notebook and many questions. Through observation and listening, I hope to fill the notebook and find my own measurements. Through dialogue and partnerships, the answers and new models will come.
And so the journey begins....