Susan F. Hirsch is professor and the Vernon M. and Minnie I. Lynch Chair at the School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution at George Mason University. She is the author of Pronouncing and Persevering: Gender and Discourse in an African Islamic Court, In the Moment of Greatest Calamity: Terrorism, Grief, and a Victim’s Quest for Justice, and Mountaintop Mining in Appalachia: Understanding Stakeholders and Change in Environmental Conflict.
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By taking students out of their comfort zone, field-based courses—which are increasingly popular in secondary and postsecondary education—have the potential to be deep, transformative learning experiences. But what happens when the field in question is a site of active or recent conflict? In Conflict Zone, Comfort Zone, editors Agnieszka Paczyńska and Susan F. Hirsch highlight new approaches to field-based learning in conflict zones worldwide.
Residents of the Appalachian coalfields share a history and heritage, deep connections to the land, and pride in their own resilience. These same residents are also profoundly divided over the practice of mountaintop mining. Looking beyond the slogans and seemingly irreconcilable differences, however, can reveal deeper causes of conflict.