It is with mixed feelings that I write this post to announce changes in this Blog. It is difficult to be reminded of the wonderful SCID community we built together, now that I am working on a different programme. However, I intend to maintain this Blog for everyone associated with SCID and for anyone with an interest in conflict resolution, peacebuilding and development. I hope, therefore, that my departure to Monash University will broaden the networks, discussion and action on issues related to security, conflict and international development. Nonetheless, it has been difficult to formally leave SCID.
I was solely responsible for developing the SCID programme from scratch over a 2-year period and delivering it since its inception in 2012. I am very attached to it for this reason and also because of the inspirational students I had the pleasure of working with – immensely hard working (mostly working in difficult jobs in conflict-affected environments and still finding time to complete a Master’s degree); dedicated to giving their all to addressing the challenges of conflict and to continue learning and progressing; uncomplaining (even when the harsh realities of working in conflict zones hit home); and brilliant in their insights, compassion and commitment. I am also attached to the programme because of the wonderful people that comprise the SCID Panel of Experts, a large group of leading international experts in conflict resolution and peacebuilding. I established the Panel of Experts in 2013 in order to enrich the learning experience of students and bridge the gap that often exists between academia and practice. It has been a pleasure and an honour to work with such wonderful, dynamic and gifted people, who have added enormous value to the SCID programme. It was also great to work with Professor Adrian Beck, whose brilliant and innovative ideas (not least to develop the SCID App), tenacity, diplomacy, and unwavering support were inspiring and meant a great deal to me. Lastly, but by no means least, the Course Administrators, notably Val Findlay, were the backbone of the course; endlessly providing support, guidance and help to students, Panel members and staff (i.e. me!) whenever needed.
My main motivation in developing the SCID course was to deliver the type of course I would have wanted to do while I was a practitioner, equipping me with the skills and knowledge that would have benefitted me, in a way that would have kept my attention and enabled me to continue working in the field while studying. I hope the course has also enabled useful networks to be developed, as well as underscored the importance of bridging the worlds of academia, policy and practice. Moreover, my motivation was to develop a course focussed on building security after conflict which integrated human rights issues, demonstrating the intrinsic relationship between human rights and security – a course which showed that often those engaged in protecting and promoting human rights issues are on the same page and addressing the same issues as those engaged in the security sector. I hoped that, as a result, the course would have an impact on the field, as a result of the continued work of SCID graduates. While working in the field I was often frustrated that the differences rather than the similarities between these two groups of actors were often focussed upon, to the detriment of what we were mostly all trying to do. It has therefore meant a great deal to me that many of the excellent Master’s theses written by SCID graduates, who are primarily middle-to-senior management level security professionals, have been on subjects related to human rights, gender equality and security sector governance.
I am, therefore, sad to no longer work on the SCID programme or with the wonderful people associated with it. I am happy, however, to be in a place which encourages innovation, academia-industry links, and impact in the field. I also consider the move to Monash University to be an opportunity to broaden the networks that have already been established through SCID, its students and the Panel of Experts. This Blog will therefore become a resource where people can keep in touch and share thoughts on issues related to security, conflict and international development – and it will continue to be open to anyone to follow and contribute to. I will also be encouraging my new students on the Master in International Development Practice (MIDP) to follow and contribute, in due course. I expect some very interesting discussions will follow and networks will usefully broaden.
Thanks to all former and current SCID students and members of the Panel of Experts for making my work so enjoyable and worthwhile – and I hope we continue to keep in touch, not least through this Blog. I look forward to reading your posts and hearing your news – please do post updates and reflections; I know I am not alone in wanting to hear from you. I hope you are all keeping safe and well.
Best wishes, Eleanor
Photos: Melbourne’s White Night (Feb 2017) – a celebration of creativity with four creative pillars: Inclusion, Accessibility, Engagement and Innovation.
‘Night, the beloved. Night, when words fade and things come alive. When the destructive analysis of day is gone, and all that is truly important becomes whole and sound again.’ Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.