Joey Cope: The Artist of Peacebuilding

Joey Cope presentation

By: Hugo Sanchez *

During our annual Conflict Resolution week, SLMS hosted Joe L. (Joey) Cope as our keynote speaker.  His presentation “Beyond Settlement: The Art of Peacebuilding” defined conflict as striking together. Conflict is the situation not brought about by a single actor, but rather two or more actors. Mr. Cope recounted his experiences in Rwanda as a conflict resolution coach. More than 800,000 Rwandans fell victim to Genocide twenty-one years ago. Neighbors attacked neighbors as tribal violence spread throughout the country. For the past 21 years, the nation has sought peace and has become a haven of peace for refugees. Their new national motto is “We Are One!”

Mr. Cope suggested when one thinks about conflict,most people think that it has to be settled. Settling a conflict can mean many different things and may not bring about as positive an impact as has hoped. Mr. Cope stated “Rwanda’s move to healing has not been a result of settlement… but of reconciliation.” Reconciliation as defined by, is “to win over to friendliness; cause to become amicable”. Settlement, Mr.Cope goes on to say, is a science. Settlement can be written down and followed as in a guide book, but reconciliation requires art. It offers to start fresh, to begin anew and forgive each other, to give one another a second opportunity. Starting fresh allows us to hope. Hope for something better holds the potential of new beauty, it better heightens our ability to see, and hope for lasting relationships deepens our resolve and energy.

As Mr. Cope put it, peacebuilding is primarily a result of tuned perception. Perception is defined as the organization, identification, and interpretation of sensory information. In a way your unique perception is a filter on reality, because it affects how you view and interact with the world. A peacebuilding artist must be able to see new things in old media, practice proven techniques, and care about “why?” A peacebuilding artist takes the time to understand and assess the situation better to bring about a reconciliation. They must be able to see past wrongs and forgive and teach others to forgive and to see persons or situations as they are now, not muddled and darkened by past wrongs.

Student Legal & Mediation Services thanks Mr. Cope for being the keynote speaker for our Conflict Resolution Week 2015. If you are interested in more of Mr. Cope’s teachings and advice, he maintains two blogs at and If you would like more information over mediation and conflict resolution services and training offered by our office please feel free to make an appointment with us. We are located in LSC room 330 and can be reached by  phone at (936) 294-1717 or by email at .

An entertaining and educational shown at his presentation:




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