Peace and Conflict Studies

Senior Program Officer from United States Institute of Peace Speaks to Students and Faculty

Dr. Linda Bishai, Senior program officer in the Academy for International Conflict Management and Peacebuilding at the United States Institute of Peace (USIP), spoke with faculty and students at UMass Lowell.

bishai_webUnited States Institute of Peace is the independent, nonpartisan conflict management center created by Congress to prevent and mitigate international conflict without resorting to violence.

Dr. Bishai talked about her role in curriculum development and peace education throughout the United States and in conflict zones, especially the Sudan, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.

She has worked as an electoral monitor in the Sudan and described the challenges in creating democracy. When people think about democracy, she said, they think about free speech - being able to say what they want. But they need to be encouraged to think about pluralism - being willing to respect other points of view. 

She also outlined some of the main lessons from her work on the ground: Planning needs to be long-term to avoid stabilizing a situation and leaving, interventions must be small and targeted, the right partners need to be identified, and you must be informed about the culture you are working within.

Bishai encouraged students to partake in international experiences and she offered to connect students to non-governmental organizations on the ground. 

LindawithStudents_webBefore coming to USIP, Bishai was an assistant professor of political science at Towson University, where she taught courses in international relations, international law, the use of force and human rights. Her research interests include identity politics, international human rights law in domestic courts and the development of international law after the Nuremberg trials.

During 2003-2004, she served as a Supreme Court Fellow at the Federal Judicial Center, where she worked on an introduction to international human rights law for the federal judiciary. She has also taught at Brunel University, the London School of Economics and the University of Stockholm.