I am the eldest son of an Irish Catholic electrician from Western Massachusetts who never had the chance to go to college because he has worked six days a week since graduating from high school. My Dad married his high school sweetheart, a Polish Catholic whose father owned a bowling alley and they raised me and my three siblings to work hard, respect the sanctity of human life, and play just about any game invented with vigor and good sportsmanship! As Irish Catholic game players we had our share of conflicts, but through it all we learned to resolve these in ways that have continued to bring us closer as a family.
In high school I played football, basketball, and baseball, with grades that satisfied my parents enough to allow me the freedom I needed to enjoy high school and make my own mistakes. On and off the field my high school years were no stranger to conflict, and I have remained in contact with my football coach and a history teacher, who both provided me with the mentoring necessary to learn how to prevent or resolve the conflicts we encounter routinely in our lives, from conflicts at my first job working as a janitor in the county courthouse to those working as a correctional officer in the county jail.
At UMass-Amherst I majored in Economics and Chinese Language, spent a summer working through my church repairing retired coal miners’ homes in West Virginia and lived in China for three years. I flipped burgers, poured drinks, got around by bike only, and made over-stuffed grinders to pay my way through college. College is a life-changing experience for most, and I was no exception. Again, the changes were for the better because I met instructors (and housemates) who helped me to understand the nature of conflict, personal and political, and how reframe conflicts productively.
At The Fletcher School I received a Masters in Law and Diplomacy and at the University of Washington in Seattle I earned a doctorate in Political Science, focusing on public law. After completing my studies I worked as an upper division manager for the Seattle Police Department. My first book, The Politics of Community Policing: Rearranging the Power to Punish, and my interest in teaching and learning about conflict management grew out of these school and work experiences. In 2000 I was fortunate enough to win a Fulbright Fellowship, so the US government paid to send me and my family to Beijing for a year to teach and live and learn to love travel and dumplings.
As the Director of the Center for Conflict Management I invite you to drop in any time and observe our required core course: Law, Mediation, and Violence. My goal is to create a program in the Center that meets your educational needs, prepares you for life after graduation, and inspires you to take on the life-long challenge of learning better ways to prevent, resolve, or reduce the harms associated with conflicts—from interpersonal to international. Please take a moment to read about our mission, to review our expectations, to fill out a one-page information sheet to join our community, or to learn to more productively address the conflicts you face.
Please take a moment to review the programs we have put together for you. You might also want to read papers written by CCM students that are published in our Transdisciplinary Journal of Conflict Management. Drop in and ask any questions you might have. We want you to make the Center for Conflict Management your home away from home. Join me for coffee or lunch sometime and we can talk about it in as much detail as you like.