Josh Fisher, a recent Earth Institute postdoctoral fellow who has worked on conflict resolution and related issues around the world, has taken over as director of the Advanced Consortium on Cooperation, Conflict and Complexity (AC4), an affiliate of The Earth Institute.
Peter Coleman and Beth Yoshida-Fisher, faculty co-chairs of the consortium, made the appointment in late fall 2014. “The road ahead for AC4 involves integrating the lessons learned from the peace, conflict and security communities into the work being done at The Earth Institute on developing solutions for sustainable development,” says Fisher, explaining how AC4 has worked over the past five years to define itself as a hub connecting research and practice initiatives.
Under Fisher’s lead, the consortium has already launched several new programs, including the Sustainable Human Development Project in partnership with the Agirre Lehendakaria Center for Social and Political Studies in the Basque Country. “As the noted economist Paul Collier posited,” says Fishers about the work ahead, “conflict can be thought of as development in reverse.” He envisions conflict prevention and peacebuilding as integral to achieving effective and sustainable development. At the same time, Fisher points to work done by the eminent social psychologist and Teachers College Professor Emeritus Morton Deutsch and says, “Constructive conflict management is central to developing positive and beneficial social institutions.”
Fisher recently returned from fieldwork in Papua New Guinea, where he led an interdisciplinary team of physical scientists and human rights attorneys on an environmental impact assessment of contamination from industrial gold mining. His current work focuses on natural resource management and governance as tools for conflict prevention. In addition to teaching graduate courses and executive trainings on environmental conflict resolution and environmental impact assessment at Columbia, he has ongoing applied projects in countries in South America, Asia-Pacific, Sub-Saharan Africa and Europe.
Fisher received his Ph.D in conflict analysis and resolution from George Mason University. He holds an MS in political science and a BS in international law and environmental policy. He has worked with conservation organizations, private sector firms, and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management on natural resource governance and biodiversity conservation issues. “In the years ahead,” he says, “AC4 will continue to integrate the lessons, tools and methods central to work done on peace and conflict into the pursuit of a more sustainable, just and cooperative world.”
For more on this transition at the consortium, visit the latest newsletter here.