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Transforming Our Definitions of Conflict: A New Curriculum for All SHECP Interns

Here at SHECP, we “encourage the study of poverty as a complex social problem and we are trying to prepare students for a lifetime of professional and civic efforts to diminish poverty and enhance human capability.” Anti-poverty work, whether working in the community, teaching in the classroom, or conducting research, is full of conflict. Therefore, we also acknowledge that, if we are going to remain committed to this type of work, we must develop conflict skills to do this work sustainably, effectively, and collaboratively.

Last year, SHECP introduced a Conflict Transformation workshop to two of the SHECP Summer Internship cohorts. We worked with Dr. Katy Gray Brown from Manchester University to develop the materials and overall goals. For this summer, in partnership with faculty and staff from SHECP Member Schools, we updated the format of the workshop, expanded the training to all incoming interns, and integrated the conflict transformation reflections into additional elements of the internship. The curriculum intentionally addresses handling conflict across the range of interactions that interns will experience this summer—co-workers, roommates, and clients—and equip them to learn valuable lessons from these interactions.

During the SHECP Internship Academy, students started with asynchronous assignments to gain familiarity with concepts of social location, intersectionality, and conflict styles. Then, interns participated in an hour-long workshop, “Introduction to Conflict Transformation” to explore existing ideas about conflict, discuss the concept of Conflict Transformation, and begin to build new skills for this summer and beyond. Faculty and staff were invited to attend this workshop and were given additional resources for incorporating Conflict Transformation into their own programming and curriculum on campus. During their cohort meetings, students practiced skills such as nonviolent communication and paraphrasing, developed Communal Living Agreements with sections devoted to conflict, and discussed their own personal relationships to conflict. Throughout the summer, interns are provided the opportunity, through check-ins and formal reflection prompts, to reflect on conflict in their personal, academic, and social lives as well as nonviolent communication strategies.

While this year’s Summer Internship Program is about half-way over, SHECP remains committed to continue thinking critically about the best ways to equip our interns. We hope to continue to improve our CT curriculum and look forward to a bright future utilizing conflict as a pathway instead of an endpoint.

Interested in learning more about conflict transformation? Check out the SHECP Talks podcast episodes below:


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