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Berkley Center Interviews Joyce S. Dubensky

June 30, 2010

From the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, & World Affairs, How would you encapsulate the spirit and ideas that are the driving force of Tanenbaum today? It is about taking the word “respect” or, if you will, the idea of “respect”, and translating it into the concrete behaviors and policies that affect people’s lives. Respect is important, but we need to understand that feeling kindly and acting nice is not enough. Respect for all our identities and differences has to be put into practice and become the context of our lives and how our institutions operate. Our Tanenbaum spirit is also one of constantly exploring and probing, as we look at each of Tanenbaum’s core programs. We are never satisfied but are always assessing what the real outcomes of our work are, and what we can learn from each project that we undertake.
At Tanenbaum, for example, we work to change actual skill sets, including for example, the skill to inquire about religious (and non-religious) differences as the foundation for fostering stronger teamwork in companies and among partners. This practical approach to change applies broadly in our work whether it is with educators of students, corporations, and how health care is provided. It leads us to approaches that are very concrete. And it is of course especially important in looking at policies that affect how conflicts are addressed. There, in particular, the notion that you highlighted earlier about the underappreciated and under-documented roles of practitioners is also our dominant frame, especially in our religion and conflict resolution work. There is a huge vision that conceptually says what we are about, and that is to find ways for us to live harmoniously. It is about inspiring people to want to practice respect so that the people they touch feel valued, and to create the context so that they can live and work that way.
And where do women come into this picture? We start in a sense with the concern that the work women do for peace is so often invisible. Invisible is exactly the right word. Let me give you a relatively quick history of our Peacemakers in Action program and tell you a bit about it, because that program has led us to a sharper current focus on women’s roles for peace. Click here to read the full article.