Trust, Empathy and Dialogue

The DDMI’s project on ‘Trust, Empathy and Dialogue’ began in November 2009.  It developed out of Naomi Head’s research on these themes undertaken as part of her ESRC Postdoctoral Fellowship at Aberystwyth on 'Conflict, Dialogue and Ethics in International Relations: From the Responsibility to Protect to a Responsibility to Discuss?’  The project hosted a workshop on ‘New Approaches to Conflict Transformation: Trust, Empathy and Dialogue’ in June 2010 which saw the launch of a network of multidisciplinary scholars and practitioners working in these areas.  The thematic concerns of both the workshop and the larger project are oriented towards understanding the impact of these concepts on conflict transformation. These concepts play a crucial role in:  identity formation; security dilemma dynamics; understanding individual and collective needs and interests; non-violent conflict transformation; mediation, and local, national and international decision-making processes.

The aims of the project include:

  1. Exploring the relational aspects of trust, empathy and dialogue
  2. Examining their potential to drive non-violent change within conflict environments by drawing on a range of empirical case studies
  3. Exploring the potential for further multidisciplinary research on these areas and understanding the particular challenges posed by applying these concepts to international politics
  4. Exploring how these concepts might serve as analytical tools and normative guides to action in international politics.

In 2012, the network moved to the Institute for Conflict, Cooperation and Security at the University of Birmingham where it contributes to research on issues surrounding empathy in international cooperation and conflict and establishes a platform for current and future multidisciplinary research on trust, empathy, and dialogue.