I’ve dedicated this blog to documenting my Watson year. Within these pages you will find a good deal of materials ranging from my reports and experience to my framework and method of analysis. Here is some information that will help you understand where I’m coming from:
Last May I graduated from Wheaton College with a B.A. in “Conflict and Social Change,” an independently designed major that reached into the disciplines of sociology, political science, economics and psychology. The tools I learned — and subsequently the analysis I conducted — was aimed at understanding the foundations of society and how certain developments lead to conflict. Society, I’ve found, must frequently undergo changes. The change itself is not detrimental to society; it may, in fact, be necessary to maintain a certain environment of peace and tranquility. But why do some changes — or the resistance to change — result in violence? I strive to identify those factors that contribute to the break-down of society into violent conflict, and those patterns that supersede local elements and are relevant to all societies.
In March, I was awarded the Watson Fellowship to spend one year traveling and researching peace & reconciliation models that are founded on Buddhist principles. At the heart of my research is curiosity: Buddhist philosophy has been influential in my personal life by helping me understand and approach my challenges in a different way. The exposure to Buddhist philosophy enriched my life in countless ways, extending from my relationships with family members to how I conducted my research in academia.
Growing in my mind was a burning question: what would an approach to conflict and society based on these principles look like? Are they being espoused anywhere today?
My pursuit of answers will take me to deep into Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Thailand, India and maybe Burma. With the three-four months I’ll have in each country, I’ll do the best I can to find meaningful answers. The way will not be easy, but the potential is far too great to disregard.