Come Together…Virtually!

Greg Paul, Program Chair

Our annual conference is less than a week away! I must admit that I sometimes imagine what it would have been like to gather in Charleston and experience all that the city has to offer. And yet, amidst everything that has happened and continues to happen around the world, I appreciate the privilege and the opportunity to gather online, engage with one another, and learn about the incredible teaching and research happening in conflict management. As we see demonstrations protesting against and working to root out racism, people and institutions at odds over how to respond to a global pandemic, and colleges and universities grappling with how to work through tremendous budget issues, one thing becomes clear: research, teaching, and public engagement in conflict management, peacebuilding, and negotiation are absolutely necessary. My hope is that our experience during vIACM will help us to build connections, grow our skill sets, and enable us to pursue our work in ways that promote growth and learning going forward.

In this note, I want to highlight a few elements what you can expect from the program and things to consider when preparing for the conference.


The Program

While reading the many submissions that came through and thinking about the consequences of pivoting to an online platform, one thing that I wanted to try to do as much as I could was to facilitate as much as possible voice and engagement. This meant making a couple of decisions. One was to enable everyone to have the opportunity to have a full-length presentation experience. This means a pause on poster sessions and rapid-fire sessions for this conference. The other was to try to accommodate literally a world’s worth of different time zones. This meant moving things around the program and recording certain sessions so that people can go back and watch some of the sessions they missed in the middle of their night. The result is the conference program you see and the different steps we’re taking to accommodate the many presenters from around the world.

Across the 189 submissions, there were some clear themes: communication and relationships; negotiation and third parties; identity, difference, and diversity; and groups, peace, and values. Papers explored ideas ranging from parental conflict and prosocial behavior, to workplace discrimination and team hierarchies, to international peacebuilding and diversity blind spots. As the program came together, it was clear that there was something for everyone, reflecting the rich trajectories of conflict management work.

To go along with the individual submissions were a number of symposia, roundtables, and workshops. These offerings will help participants dive into in a range of areas, including mediation around the world, digital conflicts and AI, and community conflict conversations. There also are a number of Connect & Collaborate sessions that explore topics ranging from morality and ethics to culture and intergroup relations.

Before moving on, I want to thank the many folks who reviewed submissions for the conference. Reviewing is a sometimes thankless but all the time necessary part of the conference. Thanks for your efforts!


Preparing for the Conference

There are a few things to coming in mind as you prepare for the conference:

  1. Registering for the conference. Please be sure to register!
  2. Registering for specific sessions. By the time you read this, you will have received a note containing guidance on registering for conference sessions. The idea behind these procedures is to minimize as much as possible the potential for zoom bombing and other tampering with the conference.
  3. Preparing for your presentations. To facilitate timely presentations during each section, please aim to have any visual aids prepped and ready to go prior to your session’s start time. This will reduce the lag time between presentations and will enable interaction during each session.
  4. Each session will have a facilitator / chair whose job will be to help the presentations flow smoothly. These will be added to the program in the coming days.

I’m looking forward to seeing the many presentations coming up in about a month! Thanks for helping to make vIACM everything it is.