John Paul Lederach is an American Professor of International Peacebuilding at the University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, Indiana, and concurrently Distinguished Scholar at Eastern Mennonite University. He has written widely on conflict resolution and mediation. He holds a Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Colorado. In 1994 he became the founding director for the Center for Justice and Peacebuilding at Eastern Mennonite University where he was a professor.
Early life and education
Lederach was born in Indiana into the family of a local preacher, whom he was named after. He graduated from Bethel College in 1980 with a degree in History and Peace Studies. During this time he was working for the Mennonite Board of Missions in Barcelona, Spain. He then pursued a Ph.D. in sociology with a concentration in the Social Conflict Program from the University of Colorado, receiving his degree in 1988. During this time (from 1975-1996) he was also active with the Mennonite Central Committee serving for a time as the Director of the Mennonite Conciliation Service.
Lederach's theories of elicitive methods of conflict resolution have been influential in the fields of political science, peace studies, international relations and conflict transformation. His works have been published in English, Catalan and Spanish.
His academic work draws on his experience in the field as a mediator, negotiator, peacebuilding practitioner, trainer and consultant. At the international level, this has involved input into peace processes in Somalia, Northern Ireland, Nicaragua, Colombia and Nepal. Within communities, his work has often been at the level of reconciliation within church and family. In 2014 he said:
"Change only comes through ensuring that people are represented. In Somalia where I did a lot of my early work, there was no government and it was a chaotic situation. My job was to engage in longer term bottom-up grassroots work. You do this by establishing organisations for elders, women's associations and so on which build strength into a community by creating space for civil society." - from a BBC interview
His elective approach to conflict transformation has been developed further systemically by Wolfgang Dietrich within the framework of the Innsbruck School of Peace Studies at the University of Innsbruck, Austria.
Lederach has given keynote speeches, commencement addresses, and lectures, among them a keynote lecture entitled "Narratives of Care: The Social Echo of Community Transformation" at the Conversations on Attachment conference at Eastern Mennonite University. and a lecture entitled "Compassionate Presence: Faith-Based Peacebuilding in the Face of Violence" at the University of San Diego's Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace & Justice Distinguished Lecture Series.
Religion and beliefs
Lederach is a Mennonite Christian, and as he wrote in his 1999 book Journey Toward Reconciliation (ISBN 978-0836190823), his Christian faith has affected both his thinking and application of non-violent solutions to conflict. In 2000, he received the Community of Christ International Peace Award.
Bill Hybels, founder and senior pastor of Willow Creek Community Church, praised the book Journey Toward Reconciliation in a Christmas 2013 sermon series. Its publisher Herald Press subsequently released an updated edition under the title Reconcile: Conflict Transformation for Ordinary Christians in August 2014 (ISBN 978-0836199031), which includes a foreword written by Hybels and his wife Lynne.
During both days of the 20th Global Leadership Summit August 14–15, 2014, Hybels spoke on the significance of the book and the importance of its principles of peacemaking and conflict resolution for individuals as well as churches.
Awards and honorary degrees
- 2000 - Community of Christ International Peace Award
- 2002 - Keys to Access Award from CADRE (the National Center for Dispute Resolution in Special Education)
- 2006 - Martin Luther King Order of Peace Medal
- 2009 Pax Christi Award - St. John's University and Abbey
- 2009 Reinhold Neibuhr Award from the University of Notre Dame
- 2014 Distinguished Scholar Award - International Studies Association
In 2014 he received honorary degrees from Conrad Grebel College at the University of Waterloo, St. Paul University in Ottawa, Ontario.
- Els anomenats pacifistes: La no violència a l'estat espanyol, La Magrana, 1983. (in Catalan)
- Enredos, pleitos y problemas Una guía práctica para ayudar a resolver conflictos, Guatemala: Ediciones SEMILLA, 1992, ISBN 84-89389-06-3.
- Preparing for Peace: Conflict Transformation Across Cultures, Syracuse University Press, 1995, ISBN 0-8156-2725-4
- Building Peace: Sustainable Reconciliation in Divided Societies, U.S. Institute of Peace, 1997, ISBN 1-878379-73-9
- The Journey Toward Reconciliation, Pennsylvania: Herald Press, 1999, ISBN 0-8361-9082-3
- From the Ground Up: Mennonite Contributions to International Peacebuilding, 2000, ISBN
- A Handbook of International Peacebuilding: Into The Eye Of The Storm, Jossey-Bass, 2002, ISBN 0-7879-5879-4
- The Little Book of Conflict Transformation, Good Books, 2003, ISBN 1-56148-390-7
- The Moral Imagination: The Art and Soul of Building Peace, Oxford University Press, 2005, ISBN 0-19-517454-2
- Reconcile: Conflict Transformation for Ordinary Christians, Pennsylvania: Herald Press, 2014, ISBN 0-836199030
- Memoirs of Nepal, Blurb Books, 2016