Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey

Pushpa Iyer

Associate Professor and Director of Center for Conflict Studies

Before coming to the United States for her Ph.D. studies, Pushpa Iyer worked to secure the rights of the poor and the marginalised in Gujarat state, India through holistic development programmes. Her commitment to bringing peace between the divided Hindu and Muslim communities in Gujarat laid the foundation for her subsequent work and academic interest in conflict resolution and peace building. She has consulted for different NGOs and institutions including the World Bank.  Such work has taken her to India, Sri Lanka and the Philippines. Before joining our faculty, she taught different courses in conflict resolution as adjunct faculty at George Mason University.

Expertise

Identity conflicts, civil wars, peace processes, non-state armed actors, South Asia

Education

Ph.D (Conflict Analysis and Resolution), George Mason University, US MBA (International Management), University of East London, UK Post-Graduate Diplomas in Human Resources Management, Organizational Behaviour, Sacred Heart University, Luxembourg and Academy of Human Resources Development, India Bachelor of Law (Labour Laws), Gujarat University, India Bachelor of Commerce, Gujarat University, India

Publications

Co-authored chapters: “The Nature, Structure and Variety of Peace Zones” and “The Collapse of Peace Zones in Aceh” in Zones of Peace edited by Landon Hancock and Christopher Mitchell. Kumarian Press. Feb 2007.

“Peace Zones in Mindanao”. Case – study for STEPS project of Collaborative for Development Action Inc.  2004.

“Martyrdom in Context: Implications for Conflict Resolution”. In Koinonia Journal, Vol.XVI Princeton Theological Seminary Graduate Forum, 2004.

“Zones of Peace: A Framework for Analysis”. With Dr. Landon Hancock. In Conflict Trends, ACCORD, South Africa, Vol. 1 March 2004.

“Was it a Genocide in Gujarat?” – Religion and Peacemaking bulletin - The United States Institute for Peace. April 2002.

Course List

Courses offered in the past four years.
indicates offered in the current term
indicates offered in the upcoming term[s]

DPPG8511 / ICCO9511 - Intro to Conflict Resolution      

This course is an introduction to the field of conflict resolution and is intended to provide a solid foundation for further inquiry and application. The course is deliberately very broad and it so designed to facilitate students to pick and choose specific topics they would like to study in-depth in future. This course is both theory and skills based. Theories useful for understanding the root causes, dynamics and the resolution of the conflict (primarily inter-state conflict) will be examined. In the latter half of the course, students will focus on developing skills (primarily negotiation, mediation and facilitation) as third party interveners. Students will be encouraged to find their style of intervention, analyze complex conflict situations, develop intervention strategies and suggest methods and processes for implementing agreements reached.

Fall 2015 - MIIS, Fall 2016 - MIIS

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DPPG8568 - Story Telling for Change      

Stories are an integral part of human life; they inform people’s emotional lives and are a cultural and social expression for societies around the world. Stories can reflect and help individuals and communities to examine their values, stereotypes and prejudices. The ability to tell stories can be empowering for marginalized communities by giving them the space to tell the truth and to put on record their demand for justice. For communities in conflict, stories often serve as an opportunity to deal with their past and as a platform to raise awareness about their suffering. As much as telling stories is natural to humans, storytelling skills to improve communication and listening can be learned. When storytelling is effective, it functions as a creative tool to transform conflicts while providing a voice to those who are voiceless. In this class, students will learn to use stories (telling, listening and developing) to build greater understanding and respect among individuals and communities in conflict and thus lay the foundations for effective change – social, cultural, institutional and political.

Spring 2017 - MIIS

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DPPG8578 / ICCO9578 - Women in War      

War is increasingly recognized as a gendered phenomenon. In today’s global context the need to study the impact of war on women as separate from men is very pertinent. This is because the changing nature of warfare has created many new roles and therefore new experiences for women in war. This course primarily focuses on the experiences of women, as combatants, victims and peacebuilders, in situations of violent conflict. Through an inter-disciplinary approach, students will learn to analyse the intersections between women as an identity group, culture, security, nationality and peace in periods before, during and after war. The use of case-studies in this course will provide a context specific analysis of the various dynamics of gendered warfare. Further, the political, social, cultural and legal measures initiated to mitigate the negative impacts of war on women and to promote a more prominent role for women as decision-makers will be examined.

Spring 2016 - MIIS

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DPPG8610 / ICCO9610 - Fieldwork and Reporting      

Today, students of almost every social science discipline (conflict studies, development, security studies, and related disciplines), engage in research that involves gathering information from primary sources. Primary data is what transforms research from an abstract state to a more ‘real’ relevant body of knowledge. For the research-cum-practice student seeking to get their hands dirty - to experience first hand the realities that inform theories and concepts - the need to prepare for fieldwork has become a must. How does one conduct oneself when on the ground? How does one represent themselves to people who in effect are sources of data? How does one handle the information gathered and present it to their broader academic and professional community? What role does one’s personality, culture, ethics, values play in data gathering and reporting? What does one do in highly emotional and sensitive contexts? How does one observe, analyze and understand the physical, society and cultural aspects of the context in which data is being collected? And most importantly, how does one maneuver the context to achieve the goals of fieldwork without compromising on core pre-determined personal ethics and values.

This course will engage students in a discussion on responsible data gathering. It will highlight the importance of a self-reflective approach in fieldwork where one is prepared to test hypothesis, challenge oneself in the face of new information including being proved wrong. It will also seek to explore how one reconciles personal values, ethics and emotions with fieldwork goals. Students will work through scenarios and have an opportunity to experiment in data gathering and reporting in simulated settings.

This course may be a pre-requisite for J-Term immersive learning courses led by this instructor.

Fall 2015 - MIIS, Fall 2016 - MIIS

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DPPG8632 - SemIntergratdTheory,Rsrch&Prac      

In this course students will explore the mutually reinforcing relationships between theory, research and practice. They will map, review and connect the major theories they have studied at MIIS and beyond. They will explore how theories emerge and develop in the scientific community. Through mapping and review of their own research and practice experiences, students will then develop their own theories of practice. By the end of the course, they will be able to present a portfolio of their informed approach to some of the global challenges, which they hope to tackle as they step into the ‘real’ world.

Students may take this class only in their last semester at MIIS.

Spring 2016 - MIIS, Spring 2017 - MIIS

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DPPG8682 / NPTG9682 - SEM: Non-State Armed Actors      

There is growing acceptance to the argument that alienation of non-state armed groups does not bring an end to violence. A question being increasingly asked by third party interveners, policy makers/ analysts and scholars is: ‘how to effectively engage with such groups?’ ‘Understanding’ groups is the first step when attempting to intervene in the conflict. In order to do, one must examine the leadership of the group. This is central to any political analysis. The leader and the nature of leadership creates and to a large extent influences every other aspect of the group such as ideology, goals, leadership, structure, culture and commitment. Students will examine the nature of leadership in one non-state armed group and comment on the implications for those choosing to engage with that particular group. Specifically, the students will research on: (1) Profile and Personality of the Leader/s; Origins of Leadership (2) Type of Leadership (3) Source of Power (4) Maintaining Authority and Control/Ensuring Follower Compliance and Commitment (5) Dealing with threats, change and Crisis Management (6) Negotiating with Leadership/Group - Implications for Practitioners, Policy Makers and Scholars.

Fall 2016 - MIIS

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DPPG8683 - SEM: "-isms" & Conflict      

An “ism” is a philosophy with its distinct sets of practices and which is often understood as a shared ideology of a group. The ideology or the “ism” provides identity to a group and to the individuals of the group. Not surprisingly, identities stemming from “isms” via for the loyalty of its members and turn into a source of identity-based conflicts. Identity conflicts rooted in these philosophical “isms” are naturally intractable conflicts making it crucial for conflict interveners to identify the sources and process of formation of “isms” and the causal role it plays in the creation of shared identities.

This course will prepare students to conduct in-depth analysis of “isms” (including but not limited to nationalism, fundamentalism, classism, racism, sexism, ageism) by looking into the formation, development and maintenance of group identities. By conducting an in-depth analysis of the “isms” and the related conflicts, intervention strategies will be discussed. Case studies and current events will provide materials for class discussion and assignments.

Fall 2015 - MIIS

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ICCO9615 - Allies at MIIS      

Many in the U.S. experience race in much of their social, political and economic interactions. While conversations about race are taking place at various levels and through different forums, it is just not enough. And the ones that are the loudest in demanding that we not only bring these conversations more to the forefront but that we also develop tools to deal with race related conflicts are students and academics in educational institutions, especially those of higher learning.

Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey (MIIS) is no exception. There are calls for acknowledgment of explicit and implicit racial bias in academic life and the need for deeper conversations about diversity on campus.

In order to encourage more sensitivity and develop better competency in dealing with race-related issues, the Center for Conflict Studies (CCS) has launched the program “Allies at MIIS”. The program invites students interested in being trained to become an ‘Ally for Racial Equity’. As an ally, the student participant will undergo a couple of sensitivity training sessions, will engage in research related to the topic of racial equity, engage with peers on campus and will present their work to the broader MIIS community through a variety of forums.

Spring 2016 - MIIS

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IPMG8615 / ICCO9615 / DPPG9615 - Allies at MIIS      

Many in the U.S. experience race in much of their social, political and economic interactions. While conversations about race are taking place at various levels and through different forums, it is just not enough. And the ones that are the loudest in demanding that we not only bring these conversations more to the forefront but that we also develop tools to deal with race related conflicts are students and academics in educational institutions, especially those of higher learning.

Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey (MIIS) is no exception. There are calls for acknowledgment of explicit and implicit racial bias in academic life and the need for deeper conversations about diversity on campus.

In order to encourage more sensitivity and develop better competency in dealing with race-related issues, the Center for Conflict Studies (CCS) has launched the program “Allies at MIIS”. The program invites students interested in being trained to become an ‘Ally for Racial Equity’. As an ally, the student participant will undergo a couple of sensitivity training sessions, will engage in research related to the topic of racial equity, engage with peers on campus and will present their work to the broader MIIS community through a variety of forums.

Spring 2016 - MIIS, Fall 2016 - MIIS, Spring 2017 - MIIS

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