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Enhance Understanding

Making that happen through advocacy, podcasting, research and publications.

Eden Returning

In a blast from the recent past, I just watched a brilliant PBS “Nature” on the Mesopotamian Marshes from 2010.  You can find the whole episode, titled “Braving Iraq” here. It is absolutely worth watching, especially if you have any interest in either Iraq or wildlife.  David Johnson and Stephen Foote, the filmmakers behind “Nature,” discuss how they tried to show a side of Iraq that gets overlooked: “it’s not about the bang bang, it’s about the tweet tweet.” The wildlife they showcase is spectacular.  Huge flocks of flamingos and pelicans flying overhead, tufted herons and mottled kingfishers, huge toads

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Photovoice: An Exciting Tool for EPIC

Here at EPIC, we have been exploring tools and techniques for forwarding our mission in Iraq.  We are particularly excited about a technique called photovoice because of its power, simplicity, and participatory nature.  We thought we’d share some of our excitement with you, to keep you updated on what we’re working on. Drawing inspiration from participatory education, critical theories, and their own field experience, social scientists Caroline Wang and Mary Ann Burris developed a technique for understanding community needs through photography.  This method, called photovoice, addressed a major complaint in the social sciences: what researchers THINK people need isn’t always

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TEDx: From Ideas to Action

Iraq is in a state of transition from war to peace, from occupation to independence, from an old to a new identity. As Iraqis face this transitional stage in their history, they have an opportunity to reflect on both the past and the future. TEDx Baghdad, an event initiated by Yahay AlAbdeli, acts as a mirror for the Iraqi people, where Iraqi viewers witness their peers discussing relevant topics on Iraq and see a reflection of themselves and where the country is going. TEDx acts as an intermediary between rhetoric and action. The structure of the talks—often beginning with an idea and

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Iraqi Kurdistan in a League of Their Own

As the Euro Cup draws attention from the soccer-loving world (read: everyone but the US), another lesser-known competition has just ended. Iraqi Kurdistan beat out Northern Cyprus in the VIVA World Cup. What’s that? You didn’t catch the game? I’ll be honest, I didn’t either. The games were held in Erbil, and though it was the largest contest in VIVA’s six year history, it only featured nine teams. What brought these teams together? Only sub-state nations unrecognized by FIFA are invited to join VIVA (which is always capitalized, though unlike FIFA it is not an acronym). VIVA raises interesting questions

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Found: Conflict Resolution Intern!

Thanks to all who heard our call for a Conflict Resolution and helped spread the word! I am pleased to announce that we have found a terrific intern to help us research and design our on the ground projects in Iraq! Thomas Oldfield is currently the Mustafa Barzani Graduate Peace Fellow and a masters candidate in International Peace and Conflict Resolution at American University. After spending four months studying abroad in Ankara, Turkey, he completed his BA in Politics from the University of California at Santa Cruz in 2010. He has a strong belief in the power of youth and the

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Iraq, the Invisible

“It was not the 2003 invasion that brought my country to its knees. Things have always been very bad… They just got much worse.” This is what my Arabic professor told me last fall, speaking of her home nation Iraq. I listened to her words and understood that this information was exclusive to the classroom; no one else was hearing her story. And now that the war is over, it seems even less likely that anyone will.

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“You’re an intern at EPIC? That’s so epic!”

It is fitting that my first day at EPIC would be the Tuesday after Memorial Day.  Aside from pools opening, mass exoduses to the beach, and delicious cookouts, we are called upon to remember and honor those who have served our country in an effort to maintain peace. As I’m getting my bearings around our office, and seeing how EPIC’s mission is put into practice, I find myself considering the situation of peace in Iraq.  Is the absence of violence the peace that we hope for? Or are we seeking to achieve a peace characterized by harmony and a robust

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EPIC Welcomes its Summer Interns!

A dramatic change has taken place, all over the District of Columbia. The temperature has risen, flowers are in full bloom, everywhere I look I see people in shorts and sandals. One other thing, the District has been flooded with summer interns.  Bringing with them their bright minds, unbridled enthusiasm, and willingness to work, they’ve given a more rapid pace to the pulse of the city. And EPIC is no exception! This year we are pleased to welcome two very talented individuals to our team.

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Wanted: Conflict Resolution Intern

EPIC is looking for a motivated intern to begin immediately. As we work to implement our youth and peacebuilding initiatives in Iraq, our EPIC intern will work with staff in Washington, DC, to assist in researching, designing, and implementing our second Iraqi Youth Hike(iraqiyouthhike.org)and other programs. We are currently looking for Master’s Degree candidates or recent graduates with academic or professional experience in the following areas: 1. Grants research & proposal writing 2. Conflict Analysis 3. Curriculumand ProjectDesign 4. Peacebuilding and/or international youth development An interest in environmental education is a plus. If you’re looking for a challenging internship where you’ll

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US Falters in Protecting Iraqi Refugees

Following the outbreak of civil war in Iraq in February 2006, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis fled to Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, and Turkey, and more than 1.5 million became displaced within Iraq. Some families relocated to escape an escalation of general violence in their areas, while others fled targeted persecution, including members of religious and ethnic minorities, journalists, scholars, LGBT Iraqis, and those who formerly worked with Americans or other Westerners – whether military, government, or aid agency. As long as the factors that led to their displacement persist, returning home will never be an option. Instead, these displaced

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There’s more in Iraq than just oil

This morning, a Bloomberg Businessweek article proudly proclaimed “Iraq Oil Output Beating Iran Ends Saddam Legacy.” I agree with Bloomberg that this is an important milestone for the country, one which will generate life saving revenue for development and rebuilding. However, I believe there are two problems with this statement: first, Bloomberg is mistaken in thinking that as complicated a subject as the legacy of Saddam Hussein lies in oil production. The root of Saddam’s legacy actually resides in the violence that exists in the Iraqi political culture. Second, Saddam’s legacy has not, in fact, been eradicated.

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Advancing Democracy in Iraq

If you are like me and you grew up in a democratic society, it can be easy to take democracy and all its trappings for granted. But recently I’ve been thinking a lot about what “democracy” means as a concept, a practice, and a system of government. In particular, what does it take for a democratic society to function and be sustained? And how does a traditional tribal society (from which, in human history, we have all come) or populations overcoming dictatorship make the transition to democracy? Iraq’s movement towards democracy has been difficult to dissect. Iraq is a resource-rich,

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