Peace Scholar Mary B. Anderson

Peace Scholar Mary B. Anderson

This event occurred in the past

Date and Time

  • Tuesday, February 21, 2012 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.


Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace & Justice Theatre

5998 Alcala Park San Diego, CA 92110




The Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies welcomes Mary B. Anderson, Peace Scholar in Residence, February 12 to 24, 2012

Events in the Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace & Justice (KIPJ):

Public Lecture 

"The Listening Project: How Recipients Judge International Assistance"
Tuesday, February 21, 2012, 6:30 - 8:30 p.m., Peace & Justice Theatre
RSVP at All are welcome and invited.

Every day dedicated people who care about the world get on airplanes and fly to distant locations. Their intent is to help people in these places overcome poverty, resolve conflict, save and restore the environment and achieve human rights. These individuals are recruited, paid for and backed by an elaborate apparatus of agencies, funding mechanisms and legislative choices that enable their work. The international assistance community spans all borders and represents a valued generosity and concern for others. However, poverty persists, conflicts recur, the environment deteriorates and humans continue to experience abuse at the hands of governments and other powers. In spite of the good that is done, the effects do not meet expectations. 

Four years ago, Mary B. Anderson launched an international effort to explore how and why this occurs, by listening to the analyses and judgments of people who live in societies on the recipient end of international aid efforts. Teams of “listeners” have engaged thousands of people in 20 countries around the world in open-ended conversations exploring how they experience the cumulative impacts of aid. By listening to these people — from the fishermen on the beach to government ministerial staff — the teams' intent was to gain their perspectives on the cumulative impacts of international aid. Anderson will report on what people in recipient societies have relayed and the implications of their analyses for how to work across borders more effectively.

Class Visits in Institute for Peace & Justice, Room 215

Research Methodologies: Tuesday, February 14, 9:15 a.m. - 12:05 p.m.
Post-Conflict Peacebuilding: Thursday, February 23, 2:30 - 5:20 p.m.

Office Hours in Institute for Peace & Justice, Suite 113, Room 119

Wednesday, February 15, 10 a.m. - 12 p.m.
Thursday, February 16, 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Wednesday, February 22, 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Thursday, February 23, 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.

Appointments are recommended. Sign up at  

For more information, visit


Mary B. Anderson was most recently executive director of CDA Collaborative Learning Projects, and president of the Collaborative for Development Action, Inc., a small consulting firm based in Cambridge, Mass.

An economist, Anderson has specialized in rural development strategies that build on local capacities; gender analysis in development programming; the relationships between emergency relief assistance and long-term development; and educational policies as these affect access to primary education in developing countries. 

In 1995, she launched and has since directed the Local Capacities for Peace Project to learn more about the relationships between humanitarian and development assistance and conflict. The project is a collaborative effort of a number of donor governments, international and indigenous NGOs, and multilateral aid agencies. Its purpose is to learn from past experience how aid may be provided in conflict settings so that, rather than feeding into and exacerbating the conflicts, it helps local people disengage from the violence that surrounds them and begin to develop alternatives for addressing the problems that underlie their conflict.

Anderson has written extensively on the subjects described above. In 1999, she authored a book entitled Do No Harm: How Aid Can Support Peace -- Or War, which sets out the lessons learned from the Local Capacities for Peace Project.

Her two current book projects include:

Steps toward Conflict Prevention (STEPS), co-authored with Marshall Wallace. This book project is based on 14 case studies of communities around the world that decided to exempt themselves from participating in the civil wars taking place in their home countries. Examples include Muslims in Rwanda who did not take part in the genocide; the city of Tuzla in Bosnia that refused to engage in ethnic cleansing; indigenous peoples in Colombia who formed peace communities resisting the pressure of the FARC, the paramilitaries and the government army; and an area in Mozambique that, under the “protection” of the Spirit of a former chief, maintained schools, agricultural production, roads, etc. throughout the Mozambican civil war and refused to allow arms to enter the area. The other case studies include areas in the Philippines; Manipur, India; Fiji; Burkina Faso; Sierra Leone; Nigeria; Afghanistan; and Sri Lanka.

The Listening Project, co-authored with Dayna Brown. This book project contains a series of open-ended conversations with many people, ranging across different levels of society (from government officials to the fishermen on the beach), in countries/communities that have been on the recipient end of international assistance. The purpose of these conversations was to listen to these people, some of whom had participated in projects and others who had simply observed the processes and impacts of aid, as they analyzed and sorted the impacts of international attempts to be helpful in their countries (such as development aid, humanitarian assistance, peace work, human rights work, environmental advocacy). The project talked with thousands of people in 21 countries and Anderson and Brown are now analyzing the common themes that emerged in these conversations across countries, contexts, types of aid, etc. The purpose of this project – and the book – is to help international actors who want to “do good” to do better than they have been doing.

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