Christiana Lang has deliberately switched between research, policy, and programming positions throughout her career. She has worked with organizations from the grassroots level to INGOs, and IGOs like the UN, and to the legislative level in the US federal government. Her focus has been using a systems-thinking perspective to understand the connections between different sectors. These experiences were invaluable in fostering her understanding of how policies are made, how programs are implemented, and the political nuances that often accompany them.
Global Peace Engagement
Christiana joined the Peace Corps early in her career, where she served for two and a half years in Prachinburi, Thailand. During this time in Thailand, she lived at the village level, with the heart of the program focusing on community development and public health, “It was a special place to be – my Thai counterpart Pi Yai and the community became my family!” Her time with Peace Corps impacted her and her life deeply, which led her to strive for new global opportunities. After completing her mission with the Peace Corps, she moved back to the USA and worked for United Way in youth development and service-learning for various associated nonprofits. In 2016, she joined the government working on public health, focusing on women’s health at the Health Resources and Services Administration. She enjoyed her time working as a Public Health Analyst, but due to the tumultuous political climate at home, she made the decision to search for other opportunities abroad focused on global conflict resolution.
Christiana was selected as a Rotary Peace Fellow through the Rotary International initiative and moved to Sweden to start a Master of Social Science in Peace and Conflict Studies, International/Global Studies at Uppsala University in 2017. She applied because she fell in love with the opportunity to do peacebuilding work and because she recognized the need for sound research methodology, especially in a climate and reality where truth is endangered. Uppsala University was the obvious choice for Christiana as it is the “Best in the world in scientific methods and understanding research processes related to peace and conflict,” she said.
Two major projects materialized from her time as a Rotary Peace Fellow. The first project was in partnership with MBBI, writing a research brief to inform a high-level workshop at the Geneva Centre for Security Policy on how to advance women in track one mediation. The 40-page brief laid out and assessed “What competencies and what qualifications are demanded for mediation training programs. And also for a person to join a mediation company, organization, corporation, collective, what they need to have,” Christiana explained. Although the UN has a mediation support unit, due to the limited number of women currently included in track one diplomacy it was deemed necessary and beneficial to address the issue and give examples to the UN of the competencies and requirements other organizations use when mediating. “In track one, 3% – 8% of women are included, the rest are men who know the context, have some experience, or perhaps even just know a connection. And by bringing competencies to that process, it would make it more equitable so more qualified women could be tapped,” she stated.
Researching and Mapping
In addition to the project with MBBI, Christiana’s second project at Uppsala was when she worked as a commissioned researcher for the Department of Peace and Conflict Research, mapping women’s mediation networks from around the globe. The project was organized by the Folke Bernadotte Academy (FBA), the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO), and Uppsala University. While in that role, she was tasked with interviewing each of the coordinators for every ‘women in mediation’ network in the world according to the parameters and methodology set out defining what a women mediation network was.
“This was one of the most incredible consultancies I have done so far and it is still in progress! The project looks at what constitutes a women’s mediator network, where they are located, examines how they operate and assesses their needs. The project found that some networks were created to support the potential outburst of a conflict or in response to one that had already occurred.”
The mediator network mapping project description and initial output can be read here. The project tied in with work she had done on conflict resolution during her studies as part of a sub-project on the prevention of sexual violence in armed conflict headed by Dr. Angela Muvumba Sellström and Dr. Louise Olsson. Christiana admires how in Sweden, women in mediation play an integral role in Sweden’s feminist foreign policy.
Christiana recently moved back to Washington D.C., USA, where she works part-time as a research consultant to the Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice at the University of San Diego on the global Women PeaceMakers Program. She is now searching for opportunities related to women, peace, security, and peacebuilding within the US. She says that due to the current societal and political climate in the USA, she “Needs to be in the US right now… to help create more peace here.”
Article by Kylea Shropshire, MBBI Writer