WHO IS DR. CRAIG ZELIZER?
“One of the critical things for advancing your career in development and peacebuilding is having as much culture and language fluency as possible.“
Dr. Craig Zelizer is the Founder/CEO of the Peace and Collaborative Development Network. Created in 2007, PCDN has rapidly become the leading online network connecting peacebuilders and change agents from around the globe.
Craig is also is the Interim Director of the MA in Conflict Resolution within the Department of Government at Georgetown University. His most recent publication is an edited volume called Integrated Peacebuilding: Innovative Approaches to Transforming Conflict.
Craig was also one of the co-founders and a senior partner in the Alliance for Conflict Transformation, a leading non-profit organization dedicated to building peace through innovative research and practice.
Craig currently serves on the Editorial Boards of the African Peace and Conflict Journal, Journal of Conflictology and the Journal of Peacebuilding and Development, and on the boards or advisory boards of several organizations including: Masterpeace, TechChange, The Alliance for Peacebuilding, International Peace and Security Institute, The Amani Institute, and Move this World.
You can connect with Craig here:
IN TOR 051 YOU’LL LEARN ABOUT:
- Craig’s professional history, from his ideas on democracy and individualism, to the process of founding the largest global online community of peacebuilders.
- His recount of the many benefits that academia can bring to a career in development, including travel, funding, partnerships and especially mentorship.
- His critical views of the development field and some advice for those interested in maximizing the impact of their careers, particularly with welcoming private positions and partnerships.
- Craig’s views on the value of entrepreneurialism, even in academia and especially for the development sector.
- His network, his records of progress, and the efforts to make it self sustainable while still providing value for peace inclined users around the world.
OUR CONVERSATION INCLUDES THE FOLLOWING:
- Peace and Collaborative Development Network (PCDN)
- Georgetown University
- UMass Amherst
- Parent Circle
- Alliance for Conflict Transformation (ACT)
- Peace building
- Conflict resolution
- Conflict and war zones, long term conflict
- Cold war, Berlin wall
- Civil society
- Access of information
- Social enterprise model
- Washington, DC
- Eastern Europe
- Abkhazia, the Causasus
EPISODE CRIB NOTES
At Georgetown and PCDN- the largest social enterprise platform for peace builders.
“They are separate things, I try to keep them separate.“
“I spent a lot of my youth worrying about Armageddon.” Boomer and cold war kid.
Ideas of democracy, individualism. Teachers inspire him with change and activism. Did volunteer work in Canada. Finds major: social thought and political economy, at UMass Amherst. Complex social problems, intersection of political science, sociology, economics, anthropology. Creative ways to facilitate social change. “Transformative.“
’90s leaves, goes to Hungary, 6 month after the collapse of the Berlin wall. “Transformative.“
Spent time in Eastern Europe war zones, Yugoslavia. War broke out.
On the the Ph.D. path
“One of the most important parts of my career has been having mentors.” His undergraduate director pushed him into applying for Fulbright, kept him 2 more years in Hungary.
Bored, on a conference comes up with a research idea on youth and discrimination on resolution. Fulbright gave him access to people and funding sources.
Joined the Ph.D. for interest in practical work. “I never intended to be an academic.“
The faculty that surrounds him also wants to be invested in change. They do academic writing and also take part in projects on the ground.
But it is not possible for people looking for a tenure track.
People on the field inspire him. “I feel honored to work with them.” Would like to be more on the field, but acknowledge his larger role allows him to provide perspective about impact, collaboration, sustainability.
A lot of field work: training, field research, evaluation, capacity building.
Currently more focused on helping partners. GU has a lot of NGO partners.
Craig likes the Parent Circle, helps them through GU.
Has traveled to Ecuador, Mexico, Italy, Colombia.
Story with unexpected result
“Building peace is intergenerational, but projects are 4 year tops.“
’92-94 war in the Caucasus, Abkhazia. USAID effort focused on what civil society could do to foster understanding. USAID focuses on work that appeals to every group involved. Started with youth, expanded into education. Was the first multi-year project he worked on.
Genesis of PCDN
Craig circled a newsletter, early Internet. Access of information was clearly important since then. Job sites in Hungary became important, but they had a lot of failures and eventually their site collapsed.
Craig restarts with PCDN, volunteer based. Conceived as a model social enterprise. “I’m still not completely sure on how nonprofits work but I’m very burned out on the donor-driven fundraising model.” Also a passion for business.
It’s a pay-what-you-want model. 2.7% are paying users. Also advertising. “It’s not getting the revenue we want.” Currently exploring other models.
A social experiment.
On managing two full-time jobs
GU is priority, but he dedicates 1-2 days a week for PCDN. Easier now PCDN is staff.
Instance of failure
“Celebrating failure is one of the things we don’t do enough in the field.“
’99 Alliance for Conflict Transformation (ACT). Lot of full time work with benefits, and effort into making it worth, a lot of money invested in the administration. But it didn’t scale. High level burnout. Probably due to lack of expertise, mostly in fundraising. It has maintained afloat since, just not at the scale Craig envisioned.
The future Craig would like to see
More private engagement.
A ‘quadruple bottom line’: people planet profit and peace.
His classes are well reviewed, but Craig would like them to be more active, make an impact. A former student of his coordinates social responsibility for an oil company, “the impact she could have is so much higher than someone in the mid-level aid bureaucracy.“
More entrepreneurship in development. “Most people, even with Master’s degrees, don’t have the basic entrepreneurial skills they need to be successful so they get stuck in the aid system.“
“Every society I’ve seen with a long enduring conflict, receives large funds of aids that after 5 years just go away. Aid does not create sustainable jobs.“
“Passion is not enough to sustain a career. You also need skills and understanding of the bureaucracy.“
How academics educate is a challenge. A Master’s is wonderful, and a necessity.
Take every advantage to apply practical skills as early as possible.
Acquire an entrepreneurial learning mindset.
Root your studies, give it a geographical focus. “If you are interested in peace building, specialize in a component: conflict, education, etc.“
Find mentors, but it has to be an organic and original connections.
There are a lot of fellowships. If you are considering volunteering, keep them in mind too.
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