“I would definitely choose to take the course if given the opportunity again. It was extremely beneficial to me. I not only learned the tools of peace and conflict work, but also how to apply them.”

Peter Tobiassen
© Jens Schulze

Peter Tobiassen completed the part-time training course in 2016. Today – as he was back then – he is head of the Evangelisches Bildungswerk Ammerland, an evangelical educational centre in Lower Saxony. The training not only allowed him to familiarise himself with the tools of peace and conflict work, but also to learn how to apply them.

He was particularly impressed by the conflict and stakeholder analyses, which have now been integrated into a training course on municipal conflict prevention that the Evangelisches Bildungswerk Ammerland offers. The practical examples that participants in the training course brought with them rapidly showed just how much this method can help to identify solutions that initially seemed impossible. “It suddenly became clear that the social workers were attempting to impose regulations in all the wrong place and – because the cause of the conflict lay elsewhere – were unable to achieve any changes.”

Before his training, the qualified social worker spent many years working at the Central Office for the Rights and Protection of Conscientious Objectors (Zentralstelle für Recht und Schutz der Kriegsdienstverweigerer aus Gewissensgründen e. V.) where he campaigned for the abolition of compulsory military service. After the organisation achieved its goal in 2011 and compulsory military service was abolished, he began working in adult education. His past professional experience presented a particular challenge for him during the course. “I came from a lobbying background, where it is important to push through political and social goals. Impartiality was not the order of the day.” He therefore found it fascinating to learn how to assume the impartial role that is so very important in civil conflict transformation. This approach was also challenging during the group work completed during his training in which his group had to address a dispute regarding refugee accommodation in a small German town.

As the head of an adult education centre, Peter Tobiassen can incorporate much of his training in peacebuilding into his work. For him, the fact that civil conflict management is fundamental is beyond dispute. “It is decisive to civil conflict transformation that we manage to provide instruments with a similar political weight to military instruments. The military will then decrease in importance and civil conflict transformation increase in importance and become more of a priority.” Peter Tobiassen is today a voluntary member of forumZFD’s supervisory board.