Conflict resolution, terrorism on the agenda at forum today

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— Understanding the roots of terrorism and learning how to intervene in conflicts on an international or local level is something all local residents can learn during a lecture by Dr. Hugh O'Doherty from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. today at the Steamboat Grand.

"With the firefighters from New York City here this week, the spotlight is on remembering the tragic events of Sept. 11," said Towny Anderson of the Orton Family Foundation. "O'Doherty will give us some keen insight into what caused this to happen."

Learning to understand conflicts in areas such as Northern Ireland and Israel will give people an idea of where to start to understand the trauma people of the world experience.

"People in the U.S. are lucky that we haven't experienced hundreds of years of conflict," said Cyndy Simms, Steamboat Springs School District superintendent. She said she hopes future conflicts in the United States can be prevented by utilizing the information received from O'Doherty and other sources. As a teacher at the Center for Public Leadership at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, O'Doherty focuses his research on what is necessary to negotiate peace in conflict situations in times of violence.

Through his lecture, he will teach local residents leadership and intervention skills during a time of conflict.

Catherine Sweeney, executive director of the American Leadership Forum, Rocky Mountain Chapter, said O'Doherty's personal experience of growing up in Northern Ireland and witnessing years of violence has allowed him to expand his perception of the cause of violence and develop applicable approaches for dealing with conflict.

Sweeney said O'Doherty's lecture will help people develop an idea of leadership that can be used in any conflict situation where cultures or diverse groups disagree.

"(Violence) is incomprehensible to us. O'Doherty will help us understand," Anderson said. "It's incomprehensible how people sacrifice their lives at will."

O'Doherty's experience in Northern Ireland makes understanding the deep hatred people develop easy to fathom. The hard part, he said, is getting opposing viewpoints to begin a dialogue to understand each other.

Part of what O'Doherty will focus on is intervention that involves using a third party to ensure agreements and dialogue between opposing groups are followed through and eventually enacted within a culture or group. He said the lack of follow-through involving a third party is often a reason for situations of conflict to worsen after a time of resolution.

O'Doherty will also discuss the role of identity in conflict situations, responses to violence, the theory of leadership and an interactive problem-solving workshop.

"I'm pleased to have someone like this coming," Anderson said. "So much of leadership at the local level is about gaining consensus and resolving conflict."

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