Research Connections

Research is off to a great start this week – I’ve found so many great articles and NGO models to begin looking into. When I first started with the concept of nonviolent communication I had no idea how many interrelated topics there were – even in my own life! I find myself using the language of needs and the Enneagream model I learned about in the Williamsburg NVC practice group even in my own home.

Over the past two years at William & Mary, I’ve gained a remarkable foundation of skills and knowledge as a scholar to build this summer research project on. My introduction to the topic of nonviolent communication in education came this past semester. In a linguistics course, I researched the use of language to mitigate conflict in classrooms and promote a positive learning environment. Specifically, I studied how William & Mary’s School of Education trained teachers to have this language awareness. This research is an important stepping stone; it applies to my field research in Bosnia as I will be interviewing educators and NGO leaders on how Bosnian educators incorporate nonviolent communication in their classrooms.

In my Sociology and Government courses over the past two years, ethnic tensions and political divisions are discussed in studying conflict in society. In International Relations, we came to understand varying models of conflict that will be applicable to my summer research. In my interviews, I will look for an awareness of these conflict models and efforts to mitigate conflict.

 In terms of educational theory, my Community Studies 250 course discussed Paulo Freire. His ideas tie into the key points of nonviolent communication – focusing on humanity, individual needs, and connections. Freire points to the importance of openness to emotions. He states, “I feel it necessary to overcome the false separation between serious teaching and the expression of feeling” (125). In challenging this separation, he recognizes that teachers must recognize the humanity of their students and connect on a more personal level.

Now that I am in Bosnia I fully recognize the need for nongovernmental organizations to play a role in developing social capital between ethnic groups and creating a link for communication. This article in Mostar shows the divisions that still exist in the culture. Educational programming, like a simple summer camp for kids who normally don’t get to interact, can play small roles in building those bridges.