As cities across the United States face many profound challenges around the legacy of racial discrimination, segregation, and inequity, there is great urgency to understand the deeply personal experience of belonging and inclusion. In the midst of facing the worst global refugee crisis since the end of WWII, the essentiality of inclusion—or the feeling of “belonging”—is of outmost importance in the refugee experience.
Forced to escape repeated cycles of trauma and displacement, the subjective experiences of refugees add another notable dimension in community building. How can the MFA and other cultural institutions accept and welcome refugees, and work towards developing strong, supportive networks within our communities?
Beyond Conflict CEO, Tim Phillips, and Innovation Fellow, Mike Niconchuk, will discuss how insights from the behavioral sciences can be applied to create stronger, more inclusive, communities.
Timothy Phillips is a pioneer in the field of conflict resolution and reconciliation, and co-founder of Beyond Conflict, a global initiative that is internationally recognized for contributions to the field of transitional justice in post-communist Europe. Using the unique approach of shared experience, Beyond Conflict has helped catalyze the peace and reconciliation processes in several nations, including Northern Ireland, El Salvador, and South Africa. Under Phillips’ leadership, Beyond Conflict launched a partnership with MIT to conduct cutting-edge research on the relationship between neuroscience and social conflict. Phillips has advised the United Nations, the US Department of State, and the Council of Europe and has been a frequent speaker in national and international forums, including the Council on Foreign Relations and the US Congress. He helped launch and serves on the Advisory Committee of the Club of Madrid, a forum for about 90 former democratic heads of state and government.
Niconchuk is a graduate of Tufts University and University College London and holds degrees in International Relations and Social Cognition. His current research focuses on the embodied implications of forced displacement and migration, exploring issues of stress, trauma, and social inclusion through the lens of neurobiology and neuroscience. Niconchuk has spent seven years working with at-risk and displaced youth in Latin America and the Middle East, particularly with youth at risk of violence and conflict with the law. From 2012–2015, he was the Emergency Response Coordinator at Questscope in Amman, Jordan, where he led the design and coordination the organization’s refugee response, particularly focusing on youth violence prevention, youth participation, and community organizing in Za’atri Refugee Camp. Since completing his master’s degree, Niconchuk has worked to integrate insights from behavioral science into programs with youth, including countering violent extremism interventions, mental health and psychosocial support work, and youth empowerment projects.