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In Buzz Commentary

Robert Ricigliano, director of the Institute of World Affairs at UWM, in Iraq.

World peace in our own backyard

There are smart guys in Milwaukee, and then there are really smart guys in Milwaukee whose voices need to be heard in this world.

Howard Fuller, one of the leading voices for educational reform in the world, is one of those guys.

Another is Robert Ricigliano, who you have probably never heard about. He's the director of the Institute of World Affairs at UWM and a former associate director of the Harvard Negotiating Project at the Harvard Law School.

He moved from Harvard to here to be near his wife's family, and Cambridge's loss is clearly our gain.

In a short time he has helped establish the UWM program as an emerging and powerful voice in the area of global studies, especially in the search for a peace that lasts.

In every Miss America and Miss Universe pageant for the last 50 years or so they always ask the candidates what they wish for. Each year dozens of them reply "world peace."

They should all meet Ricigliano. He might be able to deliver.

He's written a book with the modest title, "Making Peace Last: A Toolbox for Sustainable Peacebuilding." This book is not a "Kumbaya," "I Want to Buy The World A Coke," "Can't We All Get Along" rallying cry to peace action.

Rather, it's a very smart and persuasive look at how organizations that are involved in providing aid around the world can work together to find some of the keys to a lasting peace.

One of the keys, if not the main key, to his toolbox for peace is to find a way to allow and encourage disparate non-governmental organizations to work together.

"It's a bit threatening for an organization that is doing good work to realize that is is not the be-all and end-all," Ricigliano said.

Ricigliano had been involved in negotiations, mediations and peace building for years and was always stressed why "it seemed like we were taking one step forward and two steps back."

"I was doing work with a colleague in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and we did a systems map on the work we were doing," he said. "And it explained why we weren't as successful as we wanted to be. It made us shift our tactics in a way that was much more successful and had a much bigger impact on the level of peace in the country."

And thus was born his book.

This is not a book that will show up on the New York Times bestseller list. It's more a book for practitioners and people who are involved in peace building. I'm not one of those but I found it an interesting read with lots of ideas about how us ordinary citizens can look at world affairs.

UWM is a school that in the last decade has begun to create a much higher profile, both as a research institution and as a demanding and rigorous school offering a wide variety of difficult programs.

The global studies program, for example, is the fastest-growing program on campus, and Ricigliano is one of the reasons. He brings both a sophistication and an enviable level of experience to his work and to the campus, and our area is much stronger for his presence.

If you want to read the book and challenge your mind (all good things) you can get it on Amazon, and I would imagine the UWM bookstore also carries it.


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