It is increasingly well-known and widely recognized that while they hold great promise, online/remote communities of practice are challenging to build and even more so to sustain. Each community presents unique and different considerations. Above all, as with any engagement space, the most challenging part of bringing people together online is fostering and sustaining the aspect of community. As such, there cannot be a truly engaged digital sphere without genuine communities of practice.
As we as a peacebuilding community are venturing further and more often into digital spaces, this installment of the Thursday Talks series focused on the challenges, opportunities, and lessons learned regarding building and sustaining online communities, digital inclusion, connection, and exchange in peacebuilding work, and inclusion and exclusion in digital spaces. The session drew on the research and practical experience of the speakers and co-convenors regarding online community building.
- Building and Sustaining Virtual Communities of Practice
- Infographic: Enabling Factors for Building and Sustaining Virtual Communities of Practice
Thania Paffenholz is an academic and a policy/practice advisor with roots in Africa and Europe, specializing in mediation and peacebuilding, peace process design, inclusion, participation, the conditions under which peace processes produce sustainable outcomes, as well as research-policy transfer. She has been involved in, advised on, and studied numerous peace and political transition processes around the world. Thania is Executive Director of Inclusive Peace; a Senior Fellow at the Center on Conflict, Development and Peacebuilding (CCDP) at the Graduate Institute, Geneva; and Chief Field Editor of Frontiers in Political Science as well as Special Chief Editor of the same journal’s Section on Peace and Democracy.
Annika Erickson-Pearson is the Community Management Lead at the Geneva Peacebuilding Platform, overseeing the workstream on community management. She incubates and animates various communities of practice on different topics including business and conflict, as well as environment, climate, conflict, and peace. She is an experienced community organiser, political advocate and event manager, working with nearly a dozen NGOs over the past ten years, including the Conference on World Affairs, Represent.Us, Run for Something, and the Global Campaign for Education. She holds a Master’s degree in Development Studies from the Geneva Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies.
Etienne and Beverly Wenger-Trayner are internationally renowned social learning theorists and consultants. Their pioneering work in social learning is influential in such diverse fields as learning theory, business, government, international development, healthcare, and education. Their consulting practice specializes in contexts where there are large-scale social learning challenges. They founded the Social Learning Lab, where they host series of events oriented to theory, practice, and leadership. The co-edited volume Learning in landscapes of practice expands the theory beyond single communities. Systems convening sheds light on a crucial form of social-learning leadership. They are preparing a guidebook for communities of practice. They have started a book series called Learning to make a difference and recently published the first volume. It introduces the concept of social learning space as a new foundation for the theory, and their value-creation framework as a tool for both conceptualizing and cultivating social learning.
Fiorella Erni is the Head of Operations at the Centre of Competence in Humanitarian Negotiation where she oversees CCHN’s activities across the regions and interacts with the CCHN community of practice of humanitarian frontline negotiators daily. She has extensive field experience working for a humanitarian organization in the Middle East and Africa. She also worked at the Human Security Division at the Swiss Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs and as a Risk- and Crisis Management Consultant in the private sector. Fiorella holds a bachelor’s degree in Social Anthropology and Arabic Literature from the University of Zurich, a master’s degree in Development Studies from the Graduate Institute and an MBA from the EHL Ecole Hôtelière Lausanne.
Zander Willoughby (Moderator) is the ConnexUs Co-Lead & Communications Officer at ConnexUs, Search for Common Ground. Based in NE Washington, DC, Zander is a dedicated advocate of peacebuilding, network building, and conflict resolution. He has served as a YPS Advocacy Expert & a Global Youth Leadership Council member at Search. Previously, he held positions such as Program Manager for +Peace at the Alliance for Peacebuilding, Peace Studies Coordinator at Manchester University Peace Studies Institute & mediator/trainer/board member for Education for Conflict Resolution. With a passion for fostering connections and collaboration, Zander is committed to networking and building bridges for shared learning.