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Research & Community Engagement

At the Department of Conflict Resolution Studies, our students and faculty have a shared commitment to the “scholarship of engagement,” working with community and organizational partners in the application of theory, research, and practice to address social problems. Below we have highlighted a few of the ways in which we practice the scholarship of engagement.

Working Groups

Students and faculty with a shared interest collaborate on research and community engagement projects around specific topic areas.

Faculty-led Research Projects

DCRS faculty are engaged in a wide array of research projects, and students are frequently involved as research assistants. Here are just a few recent projects:

Developing collaborative processes for resolving conflict related to coastal water management issuesCoastal communities in Florida are facing a range of issues related to the impacts of climate change and development, and social science research plays a critical role in identifying stakeholders, understanding their experiences and perspectives, and engaging them in effective decision-making processes on the personal, professional, and community-wide levels. Dr. Robin Cooper, with funding from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), worked with the Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve (RBNRR) in its effort to establish a mechanism for working collaboratively with the community on adaptive management decision-making in the context of fresh water usage. The purpose of this qualitative research project was three-fold: 1) to understand attitudes and behaviors related to water usage among residents in the Rookery Bay region; 2) to explore how community members have engaged in water-related decision-making in personal and professional contexts; 3) to describe community members’ experiences of receiving and responding to educational information related to water conservation. Several doctoral candidates in DCRS assisted with the research as part of Dr. Cooper’s research team.

The Ombudsperson in Federal Agencies' Programs and PracticesWith funding from chiResolutions, LLC, and the Administrative Conference of the United States, Dr. Neil Katz and a team of experts, with notable support from several DCRS students, completed a project to systematically examine current federal ombuds programs and practices to:

  1. Better identify and classify the role(s) of ombuds in federal agencies
  2. Develop a set of recommended practices for the establishment and operation of federal agency offices; and
  3. Identify situations where expanded use of ombuds may be beneficial to federal agencies.

The research team developed and implemented a mixed-method survey to provide a comparative analysis and rich description of ombuds offices within federal agencies, including descriptive information regarding structures, procedures, activities, and standards. Survey results were supplemented by review of documents submitted to the research team to inform the analysis. An additional section of the analysis included a review of the legal literature and case law relevant to the creation and operation of Federal ombuds offices. Part two of the report showcased ombuds programs and practices through detailed case studies of 4-6 agencies that gave readers a sense of the variety of ombuds offices and practices in the Federal government and a sample of the aforementioned “best practices” and promising innovations. Part three of the report provided recommendations offered both by survey participants and by the consulting/research team.

Teaching 9/11 in the Classroom - Dr. Cheryl Duckworth conducted a study which included surveying and interviewing U.S. middle and high-school teachers nationwide about their experiences teaching 9/11. The study explored how they have approached teaching today’s students about one of the most painful, important and arguably divisive events in US history. Using the quantitative and qualitative data gathered in the study, Dr. Duckworth developed findings related to the understanding that the "post-9/11 generation" has of what happened and what it means and how this is significant to how Americans will view foreign policy in the coming decades (especially in the Islamic World) and whether it is likely to generate war or foster peace. The study’s findings are reported in Dr. Duckworth’s book, 9/11 and Collective Memory in US Classrooms: Teaching About Terror, which reflects on foreign policy developments and trends since September 11th, 2001 and analyzes what this might suggest for future trends in U.S. foreign policy.

Healthcare, Negotiation, and Power in Agate, Ghana: ‘All I Need is Help to do Well’ - Dr. Eileen Smith-Cavros and Dr. Joyce Avotri-Wuaku conducted research examining illness and ways of negotiating health treatment from sociological and anthropological perspectives using qualitative methods in Agate, Ghana. Researchers interviewed 29 men and women over 50 years of age about whether and how they treated recent illnesses and with what results. Several themes arose from the interviews. Many critical obstacles to successful health treatment existed. However, participants creatively used various methods to try to negotiate a flawed healthcare system as best as they could. Participants blended religious/spiritual approaches including herbs, fasting, and prayer with western medicines, increased dependence on their social networks, and used various components of Ghana's National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) to varying degrees.

Community Resolution Services

Community Resolution Services (CRS) at NSU's Halmos College offers trainings and workshops, as well as facilitation, conflict coaching, and consulting services to individuals, families, groups, and organizations to resolve conflicts on the NSU campus and out in the broader community. CRS offers needed services to the community, often at either no cost or based on a sliding fee scale. This enables our underserved community members to access and participate in conflict resolution services. CRS offers services from multicultural perspectives specifically designed for our multicultural communities. CRS also provides community events, such as Story Café and We Love our Families, and workshops on topics such as Conflict Resolution Skills, Intimate Partner Violence Prevention and Intervention, De-escalation, Conflict in the Workplace, Crisis Communication, and Planning for Peaceful Communities.  CRS offers programs for individuals and families with children designed to offer conflict resolution and problem-solving knowledge and skills. In addition to being a practicum site, CRS seeks student volunteers to who wish to work with us as their time permits. CRS is directed by Dr. Judith McKay.

Global Courses

Global Courses are elective courses that incorporate an overseas field-immersion component. These courses are developed around multidisciplinary Conflict Resolution Studies (CRS) courses that provide a solid knowledge base for the learning experience. In addition, the overseas experience enhances students' cross-cultural skills and fosters sensitivity to, and appreciation and understanding of, diversity and global issues. These courses are part of the graduate curriculum of the Department of Conflict Resolution Studies (DCRS) at Nova Southeastern University (NSU).

NSU Center for the Humanities

In addition to championing core academic disciplines in the humanities such as history, philosophy, composition and rhetoric, criticism and theory of the performing and visual arts, literature and language studies, the Center for the Humanities is dedicated to highlighting the significant role the humanities play in related fields in the social sciences. The NSU Center for the Humanities also aims to demonstrate the relevance of the humanities as a complement to the core STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and math) with a view to encouraging students and scholars in those disciplines to explore these connections. The Center for the Humanities serves as a resource for both students and scholars at NSU and from elsewhere by hosting workshops, conferences, and other professional development opportunities. The Center for the Humanities also serves as a resource for teachers and students in the primary and secondary education system in the South Florida region, providing material resources and training opportunities. The Center is dedicated to engaging the wider South Florida community by partnering with community organizations and participating in local cultural initiatives that highlight the humanities.

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