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Viking Peace? June 9, 2011

Posted by Elyse Leonard in Individual Fellowship, Norway, Undergraduate.
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Elyse Leonard

To the untrained eye, Norway might not seem like the best destination choice for a student like me – someone interested in studying civil wars and post-conflict reconciliation. Since the Vikings, how much conflict has Norway seen?  Yet a closer look reveals that Norway stands as a world leader in international conflict resolution research, theory, and policy.  From Sudan to Sri Lanka, Norwegians have influenced peace talks and post-conflict transition strategies worldwide.

This summer I have the opportunity to learn about Norway’s approach to conflict resolution.  As an intern with the Peace Research Institute of Oslo (PRIO), I will engage with the Norwegian conflict experts on a daily basis. My main project focuses on the expansion of a data set in the Environmental Factors of Civil War department.  The study aims to determine the relationship between urban population increases and urban violence.  Specifically, I will look into Latin American urban violence incidents since 1960 and the recent Arab Spring.  Beyond archival research and data-coding for this Urban Social Disturbances study, I also will contribute research towards a new policy forum on sexual violence in mineral resource conflicts. This topic has received little scholarly attention. I feel excited to contribute the project’s early design.

Elyse Leonard work at a computer at PRIO

Elyse Leonard works at the Peace Research Institute of Oslo (PRIO) in Norway. Elyse was placed in the "Learner's Loft," a quiet office space on the top floor equipped with large skylights and decorated with inspirational quotes.

Since my internship started recently, I have no solid conclusions about the Norwegian approach to conflict studies. I have learned that the PRIO work environment is highly collaborative and encouraging.  I look forward to growing more as a researcher and peace advocate in my coming months at PRIO and will write again soon — hopefully with more insights about Norwegians, their culture, and their perspective on conflict resolution!

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