Conference Program

What’s going on at Build Peace 2021? Find out about our core themes and all the conference sessions & speakers. The conference will take place on October 18 – 24, 2021 on a virtual platform.

Computer Says No: reflecting on digital adaptations, digital conflict, and the long term impacts of the pandemic on peacebuilding and social justice

As the pandemic swept the globe, social distancing measures were introduced in many countries, and even more of our lives moved online. Even after the threat of the virus subsides, the pandemic will leave a lasting impact across many fields: health, education, science, government, and more. Peacebuilding is no different. The Build Peace community has been deep into digital adaptations for many years, so we see the effect of the pandemic on peacebuilding as an acceleration of a trend that was already there: there is no longer a ‘peacetech’ field separate from ‘traditional peacebuilding’. As conflicts become increasingly digital, as we seek to foster connection and build bridges in a digital age, the peacebuilding field must embrace digital approaches.

The acceleration of the digital peacebuilding field over the past year has brought to the forefront the full creativity and potential of digital adaptations and tools applied to peacebuilding work. It has also magnified the risks, the challenges and the dark sides of digital work. Build Peace 2021 will be a space to reflect on digital adaptations, digital conflict, and the long term impacts of the pandemic on the peacebuilding field.

We will organize our collective inquiry across three areas of reflection

Digital Adaptations of Offline Work

Many digital adaptations of peacebuilding work have emerged during the pandemic. We are interested in hearing about these experiences and critically assessing what new challenges they bring to our field.

Some questions we might ask: What are the compromises when moving work online? Is there a risk of losing nuance, simplifying dialogue, and / or whitewashing inclusion with digital means? How can digital and offline activities work together? Is there a risk we neglect critical offline work? Are there times when digital activities should absolutely not replace offline activities?

Digital Conflict Drivers

The impact of online misinformation and polarization during the pandemic has grown, and we’ve seen its effects across countries and sectors, impacting vaccination campaigns, electoral processes and more. We are interested in digging deeper into the digital conflict drivers that are now part and parcel of understanding any conflict context.

What aspects of conflict dynamics are most affected by online activity? Does working online to build peace introduce new digital conflict risks, and does this sometimes outweigh the opportunities of digital peacebuilding? How can an analysis of conflicts taking place in digital space be integrated to traditional peacebuilding programming? What can be done to address and mitigate digital conflicts, and should this work happen online or offline?

Individual Behavior & Digital Technology

From addiction to social media to stress from too many hours spent on video calls, throughout the pandemic we’ve all become more aware of the effects digital technologies are having on our individual behavior. We are interested in exploring the intersection of these effects on individual behavior with conflict.

How is our formation and expression of identity changing? How is trust built online, and how is it damaged? What happens when certain individuals are censored or deplatformed?

View the Virtual Conference program!

Join us online at Build Peace 2021 – we’re excited to see you there.