Message from President Zoe Barsness – SiGNAL Newsletter Winter 2019

Dear IACM,

On the cusp of the of the new year, I look back at all IACM has accomplished in the last few years and forward with great excitement to building on those accomplishments in 2020.  We have much good news to share with you.

Zoe Barsness, IACM President

But first, I’d like to share a few of my thoughts about IACM in general.  It is with great honor and humbleness that I serve as your President this year and follow in the footsteps of so many of our distinguished colleagues in stewarding this amazing organization.  As I prepared this letter, I thought back over many fond IACM memories—and I have a lot to savor!  I first attended IACM as a graduate student in 1995 at Helsignoer, Denmark.  What a revelation that conference was to me.  In Helsignoer, I found a small group of passionate, interdisciplinary conflict scholars and practitioners who talked, debated and laughed together in small scholarly sessions, over shared meals and before and after long walks around Helsignoer castle (yes, Hamlet’s castle). The group even broke up the regular conference routine with the occasional beach volleyball game (Helsignoer is on Denmark’s North Riviera) and an end of the conference shopping trip to nearby Copenhagen. Senior faculty, people whose work I’d studied in doctoral seminar and greatly admired as scholars, junior faculty, doctoral students and practitioners all mingled together and joined in one vibrant dialogue. The community was warm, generous and unassuming in a way that made newcomers like me—whatever their rank, professional orientation or level of experience—feel welcomed, valued and nurtured both as scholars of conflict and people. How appealing and different from my experiences at other much larger, more impersonal conferences. Most important, how intellectually and emotionally sustaining. On my flight home from Denmark, I determined that I’d found my true academic family. Sharing meals, social experiences and lots, and lots of ideas with the members of this community over the past 24 years since has indelibly shaped my scholarship, helped me forge many productive collaborations, strengthened my teaching, and fostered enduring friendships. IACM is family to me, one I look forward to visiting every year at our annual conference.  The IACM board and leadership team, is deeply committed to assuring that the membership—whether long-time or new—continues to find a nurturing and vibrant intellectual community, just as I did so many years ago.
Now, onto our good news!

Conferences: If you joined us in Dublin, you already know that we had a blockbuster turnout!  It was one of our largest conferences ever in terms of submissions and attendance.  Kudos to Brian Gunia, our Dublin Program Chair, and the Local arrangements team led by Brooke (Shaughnessy) Gazdag, Andrea Schneider, and Jennifer Parlamis, and of course Maurice Schweitzer, our immediate Past-President, who put together an amazing conference. The scholarly program was stimulating and creative. Brian and his team introduced many successful program innovations that we intend to continue next year. And, the “co-curricular” activities that the local arrangements team pulled together for the membership to enjoy followed our wonderful IACM tradition of having fun foster friendship. For a more detailed recap of Dublin and an overview of our post conference survey results, read Brian and Maurice Schweitzer’s column.

In 2020, we are off to Charleston!  Exchange ideas with our colleagues at the Mills House Wyndham Grand Hotel, located in Charleston’s historic downtown.  Enjoy southern cuisine and the south’s renowned hospitality.  We are excited to be visiting Charleston, given its beauty, history as a colonial city and the prominent role it played in the lead up to the U.S. civil war.  This later history is interesting to reconsider in light of the re-emergence of intensely partisan conflict across the world over the last few several years.  Greg Paul, our Charleston Program Chair, and Brandon Charpied, our Executive Director and local arrangements coordinator for Charleston, provide a preview of Charleston in their respective columns.  Similar to Dublin, we seek to create a vibrant space for the exchange of ideas between scholars and practitioners, to foster interdisciplinary collaboration and community engaged scholarship, and to provide opportunities for our members to build relationships and engage in professional development.  We are particularly interested in highlighting interdisciplinary and innovative approaches to the study of conflict.  If you have an interesting idea for a pre-conference or formal conference session, please reach out to Greg Paul.  We are particularly interested in encouraging submissions focused on innovations in pedagogy, conflict management practice and engaged scholarship for this year’s program.

NCMR: We bade farewell to Michael Gross this September after his many productive years as editor of NCMR.  We are deeply appreciative of his dedication and strong leadership of the journal.  Under his editorship, NCMR broke the 1.0 Impact Factor.  He also established a solid pipeline and strong set of submissions to assure a smooth transition for the new NCMR leadership team.  Our new editor, Qi Wang, is a communications profession at the University of Maryland.  We are very excited to have her onboard.  To learn more about the journal and editorial team she has pulled together, check out Qi’s column. Please also considering making a submission to one of two special issue calls for papers:  1)   Global Conflicts and Local Resolution (January 2020 deadline) or 2) Negotiation and Conflict Management in Public Relations and Strategic Communication (March 15, 2020 deadline). Looking forward, we will share summaries about NCMR articles in Signal.

Communications:  In the spirit of professional development, check out the Featured Article, Case or Simulation Section of the newsletter. In this section of the SiGNAL, the authors of D-Loyal, Li HUANG and Chengyi LIN, describe a new case simulation from the Dispute Resolution Research Center. And thank you to the DRRC for offering a 10% discount on D-Loyal for IACM members! This coming year, Jen Parlamis and I will be launching a task force to develop a broader communications strategy for IACM, exploring in particular the focus of Signal and how we might more strongly leverage other communication avenues (e.g., our website and social media) to support our membership.  We’ll be launching this effort shortly after the new year. If this is an initiative in which you might like to get involved, please reach out to Jen ( or me ( to let us know of your interest.

Elections.  In late January, we will be conducting our annual elections. In July 2018, a significant set of amendments to the IACM constitution were approved by the membership. As a consequence of the changes adopted at that time, the IACM’s leadership structure changed such that the President, beginning in 2020, will serve a 2-year term. Taya Cohen, our current President-Elect, will be the first IACM president to serve a 2-year term. This means that this year’s election will be focused exclusively on filling the two Member-at-Large IACM board positions that will open up in July 2020. The IACM board has 4 members-at-large, each of whom serve a 2-year term and 2 of whom roll off the board each year. Nominations for the slate of Member-at-large candidates are open until January 10, 2020. If you would like to nominate someone to serve as member-at-large, please submit your nomination here. Elections for the two member-at-large positions will be conducted at the end of January.

In closing, I want to thank all of you who shared your feedback with us on the post conference survey. The information you provided will help to inform our programming for Charleston in 2020 and our selection of future conference sites. All of us on the board care deeply about making IACM welcoming, responsive and rewarding. So please keep sharing your thoughts, submit your work to IACM and NCMR, propose interesting symposia, come to Charleston and get involved!

I look forward with excitement to seeing to seeing you all in Charleston in July 2020!