The Concord Project is an international research, teaching, and action program whose mission is to strengthen ‘concord organizations.’ These are groups that bring together people in divided societies or situations of conflict, with fundamentally opposing views or identities. Their purpose is to advance civil society and peaceful mutual engagement, while recognizing and respecting group differences.
Building on practical lessons learned in longstanding conflict situations where recent progress has been demonstrated, the Project engages some of the world’s most intractable religious, ethnic and socio-cultural divisions. It seeks out, studies and supports organizations which manifest deep and courageous commitment to bridging these divides in effective ways, against the odds. In a period of exciting growth, the Concord Project’s focus will encompass: the Middle East; ethnic and religious clashes in Europe and Eurasia; African conflicts and genocides; tensions in South and South-East Asia; and racial, ethnic, and religious divides in the US. Our concerns are as close as Los Angeles and as far as villages without electricity.
In its research component, the Project identifies concord organizations, nationally and internationally, and investigates the specific characteristics that make them successful. It analyzes how they develop ‘bridging social capital’ – understood as the human and organizational resources and practices that span differences of self-definition and historical experience. The aim is to understand how such organizations make possible the visioning of peaceful cohesion and shared futures, with well-constructed action programs that include dialogue but seek to go further.
In teaching, the Concord Project initiates courses on conflict mediation in civil society, including UCLA’s well-regarded practicum on coexistence and conflict resolution. It also arranges concord-related guest lectures in the graduate programs of the UCLA School of Public Affairs.
In its practical dimension, the Project provides executive training programs and written materials for nonprofits, NGOs, governmental entities, businesses, foundations and media leaders interested in promoting inter-communal structures and leadership skills in situations of social division.
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