Cedar Create

Building Bridges for Peace – Promoting Peace and Conflict Resolution

Building Bridges for Peace – Promoting Peace and Conflict Resolution


Published on 20 September 2023

Share this: Twitter,etc
Last week, the Association for Family Therapy and Systemic Practice (AFT) ran its annual conference; this year’s theme was ‘Building bridges for peace – promoting peace and conflict resolution’. Hannah Sherbersky, CEO of AFT and Deputy Director of Cedar at the University of Exeter, opened and closed the event, as well as chairing many of the presentations.

AFT held a face-to-face symposium in July which was followed by this online conference taking place on 14th and 15th September 2023. Being online allowed AFT to welcome speakers and attendees from around the world.

AFT members can access the presentations via the member area on the AFT website. Or, you can see the presentations by purchasing a ticket to the event via the AFT website.

The conference theme – the concept of building bridges – is multi-layered and highlighted that systemic interventions are about enabling connections and bridge building, but also recognises AFT’s role to build bridges with and between its membership.

There was a variety of International plenary speakers, presenting over the two days, starting with peace campaigner Jo Berry. Jo founded the charity ‘Building Bridges for Peace’ after losing her father Sir Anthony in the Brighton bomb in 1984 and since 2000 she has been working with the ex-IRA combatant Patrick Magee who was convicted for the Grand Hotel bombing. In the last 22 years they have spoken together over 300 times and Jo draws on this experience in all the work she does. The lessons she has been learning are now part of her work in demonstrating the power of empathy, how we cannot choose revenge and blame. Above all she is working for a world where no one is demonised, where everyone has their truth, and we find ways to resolve conflict so all win (buildingbridgesforpeace.org). This was a powerful start to a very inspiring conference.

The final plenary presentation was by Thupten Jinpa, Ph.D. is the founder and chairman of Compassion Institute, and the principal author of Compassion Cultivation Training™ (CCT©), the Institute’s flagship compassion education offering, developed while Jinpa was at Stanford University. Jinpa also serves as an adjunct professor at the Faculty of Religious Studies at McGill University, Montreal, and is the founder and president of the Institute of Tibetan Classics. Jinpa’s work is focused on how ethics are grounded in compassion and brought the conference to a fitting close.

AFT is planning to run a hybrid conference in 2024 – watch this space!