Faculty & Students
Meet the Faculty
Name: Ami C. Carpenter
Professional Interests: Preventing Violent Conflict; Leaders in Factional Conflict (Druglords & Warlords); Conflict Resilient Communities
Degrees: Ph.D., Conflict Analysis and Resolution; M.A. Communication Studies; B.A. (Honors) Psychology
Hometown: Omaha, Arkansas
Hopes and Dreams: Building bridges in all spheres of my life. Intra-personally, to bridge my artistic and musical side with my philosophical, academic side. Interpersonally, to bridge divisions between family members. In my professional life, to bridge interest and identity groups for creative solutions to complex problems. Oh, and I wouldn’t mind parachuting, learning to jump horses, taking a commercial space flight (once it’s affordable) and playing some role in the transformation of our policy “solutions” towards youth gangs.
1) What made you decide to enter the field of peacebuilding/conflict resolution/human rights?
Growing up the middle child in a 10-sibling family – I was always playing the role of peacemaker. Well, that’s sort of a joke – but honestly, being the middle child exposes you to the experiences of the younger, more vulnerable, more protected (or perhaps exploited!) clique of kids as well as the older, more ‘responsible’, more privileged (or perhaps overworked!) clique. I wasn’t aware that there was a field of conflict and peace studies until I was in my early twenties. Once I found it, I knew there was nothing else I wanted to know more about.
2) What are some of your previous professional experiences and what brought you to the University of San Diego?
I’ve always worn three hats – educator, practitioner and researcher. I’ve taught courses on conflict analysis and resolution at George Mason University, National Taurida Vernatsky in Crimea, Ukraine and California State University, Dominguez Hills.
As a practitioner, I consult with organizations and community groups in conflict. I worked on inter-ethnic dialogues in the period after September 11, 2001 and I also worked with George Mason's School of Law to design and implement national and regional public-private partnership for protecting important national infrastructure systems (Energy, Transportation, Telecommunications) between the Department of Homeland Security and private sector in different industries (Energy, Transportation, Telecommunications). I applied cultural and conflict analysis to recommend strategies in how the process was designed and negotiation strategies carried out and in the same period, contributed to the United Nations guidelines on Good Governance in Public-Private Partnerships. Ultimately though, I returned to my primary interest in preventing violent conflict and effective peacebuilding projects in societies emerging from civil war.
My research has taken me to Guatemala and Iraq, and more recently to Mexico to explore druglordism and warlordism. I also work with the City of Long Beach on projects to prevent youth and gang violence.
3) What are some things that impress you the most about San Diego, the university and the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies?
I don’t think I need to comment on the charms of San Diego proper! It’s a beautiful city. It’s the juxtaposition of San Diego and Tijuana that offers opportunity for working across cultural and national boundaries. I see lots of wonderful projects in this region that connect people and initiatives across the border in recognition that our security is inextricably bound up with what happens across the wall. The people at USD possess an ethos of social conscience and activism. There is a genuine willingness to collaborate across traditional boundaries. The Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace & Justice and the Trans-Border Institute are both engaged in such important projects– it’s an honor and a privilege to be associated with their work. I’m just really thankful to be engaged with the School in its early formative years, where visioning and creativity drives our work!
4) What advice would you give to potential students? What things might you have done differently?
Take risks and take chances. Take every opportunity, and make the most out of your education. There are few times in our life where we have the intellectual space to simply read, learn, absorb and experiment putting good ideas in practice. Also, know that none of us have all the answers and the best approach to your education and to your work in this field is a genuine openness to new information and ideas, even if they aren’t your own.
5) Where types of careers and work do you hope for your students and alumni?
The theory and practice of conflict resolution, peace and justice is applicable anywhere. My students have spearheaded mediation programs at local police departments; promoted peer mediation and peace education in their local schools; created their own Institutes for Conflict Resolution at other universities; promoted restorative justice programs and set up grass-roots programs to reconcile divided populations in conflict or post-conflict zones. The people who are drawn to this field tend to have a deep passion for positive social change, and I hope they can wield that passion in whatever sphere they ultimately work.
6) Any other thoughts or words of advice.
Sleep. Run and play. Connect with your community.