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Rangita de Silva de Alwis Photo

Rangita de Silva de Alwis

Adjunct Professor of Public Policy


The course focuses on two theaters of continuing conflict: Afghanistan and the Sahel region in Africa, the world’s most conflict heavy region. Collaborating with UN Security Council non-permanent members, this class will examine these recent conflicts, its impact on women, and the role of women as peace builders. From the denial of women's and girl's education in the recent Taliban takeover in Afghanistan to Africa’s Sahel region’s climate collapse which has impacted a gathering crisis in food security, access to water, migration, and the feminization of poverty, the class will analyze some of the root causes of recent conflict and provide new policy imperatives through a gender perspective. The confluence of the 3 Cs, conflict, climate change and covid will continue to have a disproportionate impact on the lives and livelihoods of women.

The class will engage with recent UN Security Council Resolutions and global policymakers working in geographies of conflict.

Guest speakers (virtual)- Africa’s Sahel Region:

H.E. Michel Biang, Gabon’s Ambassador to the UN (Security Council); H.E. Cheikh Niang, Senegal’s Ambassador to the UN; H.E. Lang Yabon, The Gambia’s Ambassador to the UN; H.E. Ammo Baroud, Chad’s Ambassador to the UN; H.E. Fanday Turay, Sierra Leone’s Ambassador to the UN; H.E. Konfourou, Mali’s Ambassador to the UN; Under Secretary General Zainab Bangura, Head of UN Africa; and Hon. David Moininia Senge, Sierra Leone Minister of Education and Innovation; Fellow MIT Media Lab

Afghanistan: Dr. Simar Samar, first woman Vice President of Afghanistan; Shukriya Barakzai, founding Chair of the Parliamentary Commission on Human Rights, Civil Society, and Women’s Rights and former Ambassador to Norway; Naheed Fareed, youngest woman parliamentarian and most recent Chair of the Parliamentary Commission on Human Rights, Civil Society, and Women’s Rights; Maria Basheer, first woman prosecutor in Afghanistan; and Hon. Fawzia Koofi, member of Afghan delegation to Doha peace talks 2020.

Each student will be required to write a short policy brief on either:

  1. A draft model Security Council Resolution on the nexus of gender, food security, and climate crisis to be used by Gabon, a non-permanent member of the Security Council, or Comments to Sierra Leon’s new Security Council Resolution on  International Cooperation for Access to Justice, Remedies and Assistance for Survivors of Sexual Violence
  2. A draft model policy brief to the US State Department's Undersecretary of South Asia and Central Asia on Afghan women's access to basic rights, including the right to education.

This course will function as a lab to incubate new ideas and provide an opportunity for students to participate directly with important global changes on policy making. Through case studies from Afghanistan and the Sahel Region in Africa, this class will examine a new toolbox for policy making in addressing the root causes of conflict and new approaches to peace building. Despite radically different historical situations, communities coming out of conflict share tools for peace. These tools would include: resolutions, treaties, public memorials, truth commissions, individual or collective reparation, public expressions of repentance, the opening of archives, institutional reforms, the rewriting of history books, and commemorative ceremonies and new laws and institutions. What are the transformative tools that can help in building  peace, security, and stability in the face of growing global challenges?