2015 - 2016 Fellows

2015 - 2016 Fellows

On behalf of Fielding Graduate University, Villanova University, and the CMM Institute for Personal and Social Evolution, we congratulate the six CMM Institute Fellows chosen this year!  This year’s fellows theme was “Transforming Conflict” and each of these Fellows offers a novel application of the “Communication Perspective” to significant social issues of our time.

The 2015 CMM Institute Fellows and projects are:

Jami Blythe – blythejami@gmail.com
Project Title: Using digital story making to uncover and transform the mask behind UK law enforcement

Paul Chappell — paulkchappell@gmail.com
Project Title: Literacy in the Art of Living, the Art of Listening, and the Art of Waging Peace

Erika Jacobi _– jacobi@lc-global.com
Project Title:  “Je suis Charlie”, “Je suis Mohamed“, “We are the people” – Dynamics and effects of collective meta-narratives of identity. 

Venera Kusari – vk2285@columbia.edu
Project Title:  Using CMM in a divided world: Youth in Kosovo

Darrin Murray –   darrin.s.murray@gmail.com
Project Title: Unwanted Repetitive Patterns revisited: state of the art in CMM

Jonathan Shailor – shailor@uwp.edu
Project Title: Shakespeare’s Mirror: Using CMM and Drama to Develop Personal Capacities for Conflict Transformation

See below for detailed descriptions of each project.

Jami Blythe is a Professional Doctorate student at University of Sunderland, England, and a serving police officer with some 16 years service. She is studying the powerfully transformative nature of digital storytelling to facilitate personal, professional and organizational development. The world of policing is challenging, not least because of the many moral, cultural and personal dilemmas facing officers each day. Jami’s work on the facilitated transformative reflection of critical incidents through the creation of digital artifacts is providing officers with alternative perspectives and stories to aid constructive meaning-making of these challenging experiences fostering transformative learning, and build confidence and resilience. When not researching, Jami, a keen cyclist, can be found pedaling around the Scottish Borders, sampling tea and cake in the many tea rooms.

Project Description
Jami's fellows project focuses on the metaphorical mask police officers wear in order to build a resilience to the many moral, cultural and personal challenges the world of policing presents to officers. Using digital storytelling as a means of reflection, this piece of research will explore how this pedagogy of story making and telling tackles the internal conflict some officers face when they feel their actions have not met the masculine and tough expectation of the culture of policing. A sample of officers will reflect on an incident in which they were perceived as weak or 'not up to the job' by constructing a short movie rather than a traditional written narrative. The impact of this constructive and creative process on future professional behavior will be explored.


Paul Chappell - A West Point graduate, Paul K. Chappell is the Peace Leadership Director of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation. He was deployed to Iraq and left active duty as a captain. Chappell is the author of the Road to Peace series, a seven-book series about waging peace, ending war, the art of living, and what it means to be human. Lecturing across the country and internationally, he also teaches college courses and workshops on peace leadership. He grew up in Alabama, the son of a half-black and half-white father who fought in the Korean and Vietnam wars, and a Korean mother. Growing up in a violent household, Chappell has sought answers to the issues of war and peace, rage and trauma, and vision, purpose, and hope. His website is www.peacefulrevolution.com.

Project Description
This project is called Literacy in the Art of Living, the Art of Waging Peace, and the Art of Listening. To survive as a species in the twenty-first century and beyond, we must promote literacy in these often neglected arts. We must also promote literacy in our shared humanity while developing new metaphors to capture the imagination of a weary public. We will evolve as a civilization or we will perish. That is our only choice. This is a task that will require new forms of communication, or a more evolved type of literacy, that may only now be emerging.


Erika Jacobi is the founder and Head Consultant of LC GLOBAL®, a boutique consulting firm with presences in Munich Germany and New York City. As an international business leader with 15+ years of experience, she has consulted with multinationals in Europe, the USA and the Middle East. She has coached national and international business leaders, including Fortune 100 leaders. In her work as a process consultant, Erika helps organizations achieve their true potential by aligning their procedures and behavior with the strongest parts of their business identities. Her background is in Intercultural Communication, Organizational Identity and Large Scale Organizational Change. Her Ph.D. research topic focuses on “The Role of Narratives in Organizational Change.

Project Description
Erika’s project examines the seemingly spontaneous formation of what she terms “Collective Meta-Narratives of Identity” (CMNIs) as exemplified by “Je suis Charlie” and “Je suis Mohamed” (both in France), and “We are the people” (Germany) which manifested as emergent popular slogans that appear to build on existing, mostly unconsciously shared values and beliefs.  This process can be seen as a sensemaking mechanism in light of complex situations: A group faces an unusually complex situation, and in search for new meaning adopts a problem-setting mode to which the metaphor offers a solution. Erika accomplishes this through a review of internet postings, newspaper and video archives, and other records to search for indicators for when precisely and under which circumstances these slogans formed, then correlates these with other evidence of reactions, sentiments or thought processes of various stakeholder groups. The goal is to apply CMM theory to thoroughly describe the dynamics of the formation, spreading, and transformation of the CMNIs as well as their effects on the collective meaning-making, identity formation and conflict-resolution process as a form of emergent social construction.


Venera Kusari is a Program Coordinator at the Advanced Consortium on Cooperation, Conflict, and Complexity (AC4) at Columbia University in New York City. She works on projects related to urban violence and inter-ethnic conflicts. Venera holds a Master’s degree in Negotiation and Conflict Resolution from Columbia University. She is a researcher of conflict resolution focusing on communication and reflective practice through the lens of Coordinated Management of Meaning (CMM) and on understanding conflicts through a complex dynamical perspective through the Dynamical Systems Theory (DST). She is interested in exploring the links between theory and practice in conflict settings. For her personal growth, Venera engages in activities such as reading, meditating, practicing yoga, biking, and volunteering.

Project Description
Venera’s Fellow project will take place in Kosovo, her native country, where the ethnic divide and resentment is still prevalent, since the dissolution of Yugoslavia in 1990s. The project’s objective is to introduce a curriculum on Conflict Resolution in middle schools, where CMM will be one of the subjects.  In order to implement the curriculum in the most effective way, Venera will hold training workshops with teachers, school administrators, and middle school students/youth leaders ages 12-16 of mixed nationalities. The methodology used to implement CMM will be through story telling. Discussions around narratives about participants’ lives as it relates to language, nationality, religion, and gender, among few social realities, will foster exploration of stories that participants are familiar with and also those that are buried in their sub-consciousness. This will foster understanding that identity is not fixed but rather it is constructed through interaction.  Drawing from the teachings of Barnett Pearce the project will introduce key CMM concepts such as mindfulness practice in communication, comfort with mystery of meaning, and making meaning of our lives and our world. She hopes that the project will assist participants in awakening their analytical abilities about intrapersonal and interpersonal communication, and ultimately, help them view conflict episodes more systematically and find collaborative, innovative, and peaceful resolutions.


Darrin Murray is a professor of Communication Studies at California State University, Northridge and at Loyola Marymount University, where he leads courses in communication theory, research methods, and a wide variety of other courses in the discipline. In his research, Dr. Murray uses a variety of both qualitative and quantitative methods to conduct applied, socially significant inquiry with a critical edge; he finds the Coordinated Management of Meaning (CMM) a particularly robust theoretical model to guide his research (for an example, see http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10570314.2013.866687). He also offers communication training and consulting services, and finds CMM's pragmatic nature particularly useful in that practice. Dr. Murray holds a BA in Deaf Studies/Linguistics and an MA in Communication from California State University, Northridge. Subsequently, he studied with Barnett Pearce at Fielding Graduate University where he earned an interdisciplinary doctorate with an emphasis on human communication in 2009.

Project Description
Some of the earliest, groundbreaking research that began to articulate the CMM model explored "unwanted repetitive patterns" (URPs); undesired episodes of reoccurring conflict that relational partners seem unable to stop (Cronen, Pearce, & Snavely, 1979). The intention of this project is not so much to replicate the early work of Cronen et al., but to honor, extend, and reenvision that seminal work from the standpoint of nearly 40 years of evolution in CMM research and practice. The current project seeks to accomplish two goals. First, to use CMM heuristics to more fully investigate the enactment of URPs. Second, this project seeks to re-introduce to communication scholars the current incarnation of CMM as an interpretive communication theory with a distinctly applied, pragmatic, "critical edge."  I anticipate that the outcome of this project will be deeper insight into the episodes of repetitive conflict that seem quite common to nearly all interpersonal relationships, practical advice on how individuals can begin to transform URPs into more desirable patterns of communication that create better relationships and better social worlds, and updating Communication Studies scholars on the "state of the art" of CMM research and practice.


Jonathan Shailor (Ph.D., University of Massachusetts) is a Professor of Communication at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside, where he has developed, and directs, the Certificate Program in Conflict Analysis and Resolution (CPCAR).  CPCAR is a 12-credit course of study that trains students in the uses of mindfulness, storytelling, dialogue, and performance, as tools for conflict transformation, and personal/social evolution.  The CPCAR practicum involves students in an intensive, semester-long work with one of several marginalized groups in their community (for example, homeless persons, at-risk students, incarcerated youth).  Jonathan is also the founder and director of The Shakespeare Prison Project (2004 to present).  The Shakespeare Project involves inmates in a maximum-medium state prison in the study, rehearsal, and performance of Shakespeare’s plays, and in the creation of autobiographical performances inspired by their work with the plays.
Jonathan is the author of Empowerment in Dispute Mediation (1994); When Muddy Flowers Bloom (2008);  Kings, Warriors, Magicians and Lovers (2013); and editor and contributor to the book Performing New Lives: Prison Theatre (2010).

Project Description
Jonathan’s Fellows Project is situated at Racine Correctional Institution in Sturtevant, Wisconsin, where he is working with prisoners on a production of Hamlet.  The project will explore the practical uses of CMM and sociodrama as instruments for investigating the communication process – first in Hamlet, then in autobiographical performances inspired by our work with the play.  The hope is that through this work, the prisoners will develop their abilities to better understand how particular choices of interpretation, intention, and action function to create happiness, or suffering, in specific social contexts.  Their autobiographical narratives will be created through an extended collaborative process of writing and performance, that will explicitly focus on the development of self-awareness, resilience, empathy, creativity, and practical wisdom in the performers.  These are high-minded notions indeed!  How will they work in practice?  The purpose of this project is to test this new pedagogy, and to incorporate the learning into the creation of a new workbook for educators, titled Shakespeare’s Mirror.


The work of this year’s CMMI Fellows will be featured at the 2015 CMM Learning Exchange, which is a co-production with the Institute for Global Integral Competence (www.ifgic.org) and the Fielding Graduate University’s EU Cluster. It will take place in Munich, Germany on September 17-20, 2015: More details at  http://www.cmminstitute.net/events/2015-cmm-learning-exchange-munich-germany

Who's online

There are currently 0 users online.