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Précis

The essay which follows asks whether reconciling as a process and reconciliation as a product (verb to noun/action to outcome) have become or are becoming an academic discipline in the tradition of how new subject matter areas (fields of knowledge) and new methodologies (approaches to understanding) have developed historically. Beginning with the liberal arts and moving into reconciliation as a part of present academic disciplines within the subject matter fields in the arts, the science and the humanities, it concludes that in process and in outcome, reconciliation may exist in all human pursuit of understanding and knowledge.

Turning attention to the manner in which reconciliation is presently treated as an academic discipline, it raises the following question. Can a new discipline be simply a methodology to assist in understanding, as the reconciling process might be viewed, or is a knowledge base (reconciliation as fulfillment, product or outcome) identified by the existence of substantive content? After a review of where and how reconciliation is finding its way into the curricular options of educational institutions around the globe, it concludes by projecting areas in which reconciliation research should be developed; what its objectives might include; and, how the research could be designed and implemented.

Special Note:

Research objectives and resource services of the Reconciliation Research Center include: 1) An on-line listing of college level degree and diploma programs offering majors, minors or fields of concentration in reconciliation; 2) A comprehensive listing of college courses relevant to conflict resolution with an objective of reconciliation; 3) A list of higher educational institutions that provide courses over the internet leading to an accredited certificate, diploma or degree; and 4) An annotated bibliography of publications and manuscripts pertaining to the reconciling process where reconciliation is the desired outcome. The research objective will be to identify these programs internationally; resource services will be to make available on-line current, comprehensive and accurate information.

 

Reconciliation: Emerging Academic Discipline?

Introduction
Classical studies were based in the Liberal Arts, or the “liberating arts,” of the ancient Greek Lyceum and Academy. Initially the Liberal Arts were composed of two divisions: the “Trivium” and the “Quadrivium.” The Trivium included grammar, logic and rhetoric; it provided a focus on the processes of writing (syntax), thinking (reason) and speaking (oratory). The Quadrivium included geometry, astronomy, arithmetic and music and provided a focus on content areas in the pursuit of expanded knowledge. As the processes of the Trivium continued to lead to new areas of knowledge, the Quadrivium expanded into many more subject matter fields. These continued to multiply and have become the academic disciplines of colleges and universities today. The accent remains on both the process of learning (understanding) and the product of learning (knowledge).

Reconciliation in Existing Disciplines
Reconciliation as both a process and as an outcome plays significant roles in several academic fields. These fields or disciplines range widely among subjects within the arts, the sciences and the humanities. Specific applications reconciling divergent positions can be illustrated in subjects as far ranging as visual and auditory performance in the arts; accounting and calculus in mathematics; pharmacology and environmental studies in the natural and biological sciences; social-psychology and counseling in the political and other behavioral sciences; and logic, historiography and theology in the humanities.

Does reconciliation exist in these and other disciplines solely as a process—the process of reconciling? Is it simply the means by which, in the subjects just mentioned, the musician finds harmony, the mathematician balance, the pharmacist compatibility, the counselor conciliation, the social-psychologist integration or the theologian wholeness? Both theoretical and practical subjects and occupations enter into seeking an answer to this question. Consider the visual arts and architecture in reconciling issues of form and balance; political economy or business administration reconciling issues of social conflict; and psychiatry and counseling reconciling mental and emotional issues of estrangement. These and other fields touch on questions of compatibility and cooperation, coordination and accommodation and alienation and adaptation. The reconciling process may well exist in every area of human understanding, knowledge and interaction.

Reconciliation as a Discipline
Reconciliation is therefore a subject to be observed, analyzed and evaluated in most academic and occupational fields. Beyond being a valuable process, is reconciliation also an academic field in and of itself? If it is only a process, reconciling, does it become a product (or outcome) when reconciliation is reached? In approaching these two questions from another direction one might ask, “Is reconciliation as a product (outcome) a subject matter field or an academic discipline beyond the process of reconciling?” An academic field implies the existence of a body of knowledge, independent of the process itself. What subject matter beyond the reconciling process identifies and constitutes reconciliation?

Do components resulting from the reconciling process, such as harmony, balance, wholeness, resolution and peace, (or their opposites, dissonance, disagreement, fragmentation, conflict and strife) comprise areas of information and knowledge adequate for reconciliation to be considered an academic discipline? The academic community worldwide asks this question of any emerging discipline in each and every age. Often, however, the question has arisen only in the context of a single subject, in which to identify a rationale for this subject’s existence a quantitative result must be illustrated. Among these subjects would be accounting, Newtonian physics and other fields within applied mathematics and the natural sciences. On the qualitative side, however, one might mention counseling and clinical psychology, aesthetics and musicology, philosophical ethics and logic, economics and political science, along with medicine, human services and religion.

Reconciliation in Academia
When Coventry Cathedral was destroyed in World War II, rather than retaliate with bombs or violence, the leaders built a new house of worship, dedicated to enemies and friends alike. This leadership then sponsored a process of reconciling cities destroyed by warfare. This program, entitled “Reconciliation Cities,” began with Coventry but soon included Warsaw, London, Nagasaki, Hiroshima and others. Today Coventry University has a “Center for Peace and Reconciliation Studies” with graduates in Libya, Japan, Cambodia, Sierra Leone, China, Jordan, and Uganda as well as in the United Kingdom. Two dissertations from this University illustrate current interests: The Reconciliation Mission of Coventry since the Second World War” (Jeanne Kaczke) and “Community Art, as a Tool for Reconciliation in Northern Ireland” (Sarah Alldred).

The University of Dublin, Trinity College, in the Irish Republic and later from its campus in Belfast, Northern Ireland, undertook a major research project in the field of reconciliation that has produced a school curriculum for children. This curriculum, as it has been taught in the schools of Ireland, is generating visible changes in attitudes and behavior. A dramatic reconciling impact on an age-old religious and political conflict is being realized and documented. In virtually every country, universities, through inter-disciplinary classes, centers, departments and divisions, are addressing reconciliation under varying labels: conflict/peace resolution, environmental and systems analysis, organizational behavior, health and wholeness research—studies involving both theory and practice. At Bethel University in St. Paul Minnesota, programs attracting attention include a full reconciliation major that focuses on issues of race and culture with plans to expand to concentrations in gender, class and religion. Other public universities and private colleges are developing programs: University of California (Berkeley), Stanford, Michigan, Antioch, Earlham, Warren Wilson, UNC Chapel Hill, Georgetown and the Yale Center for Faith and Culture, where the Political Science Department sponsors a “Reconciliation Symposium.”

As reconciliation in both process and product becomes more prevalent in teaching and learning settings, does it remain segmented within widely divergent disciplines, is it interdisciplinary or is it becoming a new and distinctive discipline? Are there things to be learned and shared from reconciling as a process and from reconciliation as a product among academic and occupational fields? As an example, in the process (reconciling) and/or in the product (reconciliation), does the pharmacologist, seeking to avoid complications resulting from conflicting medications, utilize factors (elements, components or stages) similar to those used by the business employer seeking to avoid debilitating conflicts within the company management or work force? Does the political scientist or politician attempting to suggest ways to avoid destructive deadlocks in international conflict have something to share with the historian or sociologist who has analyzed deadlocks in similar situations? We think the answer may be “yes,” but do we know which reconciling factors in these processes work well enough to be replicated to produce positive impacts in varying situations?

Reconciliation Research
Beyond practical applications as specific illustrations (i.e., anecdotal data) of reconciliation in one discipline being applicable to reconciling needs in another, are there hard data indicating an axiom or formula? Is there an actual process, or set of processes with verifiable outcomes, applicable to several settings or usable universally? Philosophers and mathematicians in every age have suggested certain formulas or sayings suggesting possible options between process/product and methodology/outcome in conflict resolution. To mention two extremes: Nietzsche’s “Might makes right” contrasting sharply with Kant’s categorical imperative or with the “Golden Rule” of Jesus of Nazareth, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

The thesis that reconciling (process) and reconciliation (product) exist with identifiable and interchangeable factors and methodologies must be established with empirical research utilizing statistical probability. First, what are the reconciling factors (components or stages) in each academic or applied field that may be relied upon to bring the desired result (reconciliation)? Second, does the reconciling process employ similar factors regardless of academic discipline or occupational goals addressing goals such as reuniting, rectifying, resigning, accommodating, adapting or harmonizing? Third, does the sequence of how factors are employed in the reconciling process influence desired outcomes, and is this similar or different in varying disciplines? Fourth, when factors in the process are analyzed for statistical probability in achieving the goal or goals, does a theorem, formula, equation or recipe become evident?

Factor identification and comparison should reveal what the various reconciling processes have in common. Further research on the outcomes and their permanency should indicate additional benefits emanating from extended periods of reconciliation. Then the process (reconciling) can be studied for ways to improve the factors utilized and/or sequenced, while the product (reconciliation) can be studied better to understand its mental, physical, psychological, social and spiritual nature to restore, improve and increase productivity in relationships.


       Reconciliation Research Center - Post Office Box 2524 Blue Ridge, Georgia 30513 
       © 2006 -- Harold C. Doster, Ph.D.