Despite the best efforts of all parties involved, the Northern Ireland peace process continues to be fraught with uncertainties precipitated by decades of mutual distrust. To date, no effective vehicle has been devised to bridge the cultural, religious and political divide among the Northern Irish people at the grass roots level. It is our belief that a cross-cultural, university-based pilot program of classroom and fieldwork in the United States could be an effective method of building trust and peacekeeping skills.
In the fall of 2002, ten community leaders and ten police personnel from Northern Ireland engaged in a six week experiment in learning about themselves, each other, New York City, innovative policing, community building and advanced management techniques. The institutional home of the program is the Picker Center for Executive Education in the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University. Dr. William B. Eimicke, Director of the Center, manages the U.S. side of the program. Dr. Francis Costello directs the Ireland-based part of the program.