In 2014, a small group of us started the Build Peace conference as an experiment: was there a community of people out there wondering how to make peacebuilding better through the use of technology? Two conferences on, and with two more in planning, it’s been incredible to watch this community grow and develop different ways of conceptualising peacetech.
Personally, I’ve come out thoroughly energized after each conference. The conversations and connections at the conference trickle into my work for the rest of the year. I know I’m not the only one who feels this way: we’ve heard stories of relationships, projects and networks that were seeded at the conference. At Build Peace 2015, we asked participants to be careful with each other so they could be dangerous together. And the Build Peace community certainly has an ethos of collaboration, rigor, and learning to better build peace through technology. That’s all great… but it’s also not enough. After the last conference, we asked ourselves: what can we do to really help people be dangerous together? To foster and support at least a small number of peacetech projects to get off the ground?
Our answer is the Build Peace Fellows program. Fellowships will be awarded to individuals to work on a peacebuilding intervention to which technology is central. Over a year, Fellows will receive a full package of support, including training, mentorship, technology support and a small grant. Applications are now open until February 1, 2016.
Maybe you’re wondering if this is just another innovation challenge. We know innovation challenges are popular these days, but we think the Build Peace Fellows program is different. Here’s why: we’re not interested in innovation, in the next new technology or the next new tool, what we’re looking for is robust, impactful and participatory peacebuilding. The reason we focus on technology is that we believe technology tools can be game-changers in peacebuilding processes. Why? Because technology allows more people to participate in a conversation. It makes it harder for decision-makers to ignore community voices. And it can be game-changing tool for grassroots initiatives.
If this vision resonates with you and you have an idea for an intervention that uses technology to build peace, then we want to hear from you! Keep in mind that the one-year Fellowship is just the beginning. Our vision is to create a community of Fellows who embody the values of the Build Peace community. The Fellowship will be an opportunity to develop and implement an intervention in one year. But we all know peacebuilding processes take a lot longer than that. The Fellowship is a way to start a long-term partnership: you will become part of the Build Peace community, and we hope to find ways that you can continue to contribute to and benefit from the Build Peace community long-term.
We’re ready to be dangerous together. Are you?