Corrymeela facilitates peace building and transformative leadership education for local and international groups. The various workshops and seminars that we offer are drawn from Corrymeela’s 50+ years of peacebuilding efforts and its continuous learning. These sessions are facilitated by a combination of Staff and Community members, bringing the full richness of learning, past and present, into the room. The number of learning modules groups can access is based on the length of stay with us. Modules have been designed to complement and build upon each other, so the fullest possible experience will be one in which all of the modules can be taught over the course of five days. A “taster” session of a single module, however, can be experienced in a session as short as two–hours. The following descriptions provide a basic understanding of the learning opportunities available:
Corrymeela: History and Practice
For more than 50 years, the Corrymeela Community has been actively involved in local and international reconciliation efforts. This module explores Corrymeela’s praxis by examining the methodologies that have driven its work, as well as the stories that give life to the ideas behind the Community. This session also highlights Corrymeela’s unique structure as an organization that includes approximately 150 dispersed community members, 40 staff members, and the 30 international volunteers who comprise the “lived community.” Corrymeela has been described as a place apart—this session provides a glimpse into the qualities and people that make it a dynamic space for encounter and transformation.
Northern Ireland: History and Context
Northern Ireland has a rich and complex history, which has included both devastating conflict and a peace process that has inspired the world. This module will focus on Northern Ireland’s political and social history. It will provide an outline of the peace process and an overview of the persistent challenges, as well as the transformative changes, taking place in Northern Ireland. Participants will gain insight into the ways Northern Ireland has attempted to reconcile with its past. They will also gain a broader understanding of the multiple narratives that now shape the contemporary political and social realities emerging in this “post conflict” society.
Strengthening Civil Society: Building Capacity Through Dialogue
In many parts of the world, the “public square” has become a place of hostility and intolerance. Our ability to speak, to listen, and to understand in the face of deep division has rapidly diminished in recent years. A fundamental building block of Corrymeela’s practice is to embrace difference. Welcoming the stranger, or even a “perceived enemy,” with hospitality creates the space for authentic and safe dialogue to take place. This module explores the dynamics of public and private dialogue, and how dialogue can be used as a tool for building the capacity of groups and communities to engage in positive social change.
Narrative, Story and Identity
“Storytelling” and narrative work are recognised across various fields and disciplines as ways to effectively explore human differences and to transform relationships. This module examines storytelling as one of the fundamental methodologies used by Corrymeela, and throughout Northern Ireland, to contribute to a process of reconciliation. We explore the complexity of identity; how this relates to current local, national and global conflicts; and how narrative work can act as a practical tool for conflict transformation. The ethics of narrative practice are also discussed.
Theology of Reconciliation
Corrymeela embraces people of all faiths and none, yet carries out its work from an expressly Christian worldview. As sectarianism and religious division appear to be on the rise in many parts of the world, Corrymeela’s Christian commitment and witness to reconciliation in multi–faith and interfaith contexts has become a symbol of hope. This module explores the spirituality of conflict and the Corrymeela Community’s approach to building peace. It also offers practical, comparative and narrative theological examinations of relevant texts from the Abrahamic faiths.
Peacebuilding and Transformative Leadership
Peacebuilding requires analysis of the root causes and drivers of conflict, prudent prevention and intervention strategies, and conflict sensitive approaches to community engagement. But it also requires leaders who can effectively navigate and transform spaces that have experienced collective trauma and mistrust. In this module, participants begin to explore some of the skills required to lead groups and communities in the delicate process of healing and conflict transformation.
Community Building in Divided Societies
Despite, or perhaps because of, its years of civic conflict, Northern Ireland has a very robust practice of community development in many of its local communities. This module explores learning from Northern Ireland and how it might be applied to community building in societies experiencing identity–based division. Focus is given to the ways people can be empowered to strengthen their communities through active participation and capacity building. Staff and Community members share how they have supported efforts to build resilience and cohesion in various communities throughout Northern Ireland.
For an additional fee, Corrymeela also offers individualized packages designed to fit learning outcomes not included in the modules listed above. Please contact Shona Bell for more information.