Submitting and article for MPI's website/newsletter

This is your chance to tell your peacebuilding story/journey. MPI welcomes articles, prose, poetry, and any other creative presentation our alumni wish to share with one another.

Sharing your story with other MPI alumni is how we build our network of peacebuilders and our community of practice, our community of learners. From time to time, MPI will actively solicit articles for our newsletter and website. However, we welcome articles from our alumni. facilitators, network, and friends at any time.

If you would like to submit an article, please review the guidelines below and then send it to us by email. If you need any assistance in submitting an article, please contact us.

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Guidelines for submitting an article for MPIs’ website/newsletter

The articles on MPI’s website and in the MPI Alumni Newsletter focus primarily on the activities about MPI’s alumni, the peacebuilding activities in which they are involved, and especially how they have used the skills they have gained in MPI’s training programs. We especially encourage articles that inspire other peacebuilders and may provide ideas and examples that can be used in their own activities.

The Basics

Length: We welcome articles of any length, but ideally, they should be no less than 700 words and can be up to 2,000 words. Believe it or not, there are statistically more hits to articles of around 2,000 words. Articles that are too short (between 200 – 300 words or less) may even be ignored by search engines.

Introduction: The first few paragraphs that introduce an article are very important. We only post the first couple of paragraphs of an article in our email newsletter with a link to read more online. So, it is very important to make your introduction attractive and compelling so that the readers click on the “read more” link to MPI’s website.

Photos/Graphics: Photos or graphics are just as important to telling your story as are words. The best photos are those that enhance the story, that show action, emotion, or connection, rather than a group photo of a training or meeting. Include a caption for each photo or graphic as needed.

They should be sent to us in as high a resolution as possible. The lead photo is cropped to 1920 x 600 pixels, so it is a wide image. Please see articles on our website for examples of the lead photo.

Permission and Consent: If any photo or graphic you submit is not your own, please include permission to use the photo or graphic or the citation for the photo or graphic, even for those included under the Creative Commons license.

In general, it is not necessary to have consent from adults for pictures involving public activities or to those activities where they already gave consent. However, it is always more respectful if you can do so. Photos of minors should have explicit permission of parents or guardians.

Attribution​/Citation: If you are using material that is not your own, please include the appropriate attribution or citation. This may include their name, information about the publication from which it came, or a hyperlink to a website. If you are unsure of how to cite the information, please provide us with as much detail as possible.

Editing: MPI reserves the right to edit all submitted content prior to publication. MPI makes every effort to maintain the voice of the author. We will always attempt to send the final version back to the author before publication, especially if there are major changes. We may not be able to do this if there is a short turnaround time between receiving the article and the date of publication. You may find it helpful to use a grammar checker such as the free version of Grammarly or that which may be built into your word processor.

Tips for Writing an Article

Basic Structure:

  1. Introduction – As mentioned above, the first paragraph or two will be included in the Alumni Newsletter emails, so writing a good introduction is very important. The first paragraph should set the scene of the story/article either in the form of a question, a narrative, or a description.

    This can be followed by another paragraph that briefly explains what the story is all about and answers the following:
    1. What is it the readers are reading/what is the story all about?
    2. Why are they reading it/the importance of the story and the reason you are telling it.

  2. Body – The main body moves the story along in a coherent, logical way. Try to present new ideas in every paragraph that strengthens the message of your story. Build and develop your idea(s). Make it substantial and interesting.

  3. Conclusion – Lastly, provide a summary of your story/a quick wrap-up of your points/ideas/message. End with a one liner or a quote.

Some Considerations:

  • Know your audience – The main audience will be your classmates and other MPI alumni and facilitators. Because it is posted on MPI’s website, its reach goes beyond the alumni and facilitators to include a global network of peacebuilders.
  • Provide context – Share the historical, cultural, and social conditions within which the story takes place.

[Reference article: https://www.writers-online.co.uk/how-to-write/creative-writing/how-to-structure-a-feature-article/]

Tips from Peace and Conflict-Sensitive Journalism

  1. Be accurate – If you are sharing information (hard facts) be sure that you have checked for its accuracy. Avoid misinformation. Imparting accurate information is one way of practicing Do No Harm and Conflict Sensitivity.

  2. Responsibility and Transparency – You are free to express yourself, but you are ultimately responsible for the words you use. You have to be cautious that you protect the safety and security of those around you and yourself (i.e. private information, quoting someone).

[Reference: Howard, Ross. (2009). Conflict Sensitive Journalism: A Handbook. International Media.]

Nuggets of Wisdom from Reflective Peacebuilding

Writing an article for MPI’s website or newsletter can be an exercise in “explicit and disciplined reflection.” During the training programs with MPI, much time is spent on theory, even when it is done through interactive methodologies. Once you have returned to your organization and to your work, you now have opportunities to “demystify theory.”

In the peacebuilding context, demystifying theory means making explicit the underlying assumptions about how things work, about how particular actions or processes create consequences, in environments of conflict and change. For example, we want to learn about how we impact social phenomena such as participation, trust, violence, respect, and so forth.

  • Be descriptive – Push yourself to describe how you think things relate and why an activity may encourage something you hope to build or discourage something you hope to avoid.
  • Be annoyingly inquisitive – Keep asking yourself and others why you think a process works the way it does and how you have chosen to do it, given your hoped-for outcomes.
  • Be predictive – Suggest, draw and identify the cause-and-effect relationships of actions and results you think are connected. Does doing A and B help create C?
  • Be systemic – Go beyond cause-and-effect to look at the wider context and history. Cause-and-effect thinking predicts that action A will produce result B; systemic thinking not only observes that, in a particular setting, A, B, and C tend to be present when a particular pattern emerges, but also asks, “What else is going on in this context?” “What visible and invisible factors are combining in the overall system to produce this result?”
  • Be comparative – Relate your problem, your analysis, your ideas and theory to what others have proposed. How do the explanations of others compare to your experience?
  • Be wild – Many of the most powerful theories in history have emerged when somebody suggested an idea that “broke out of the box.” Try out ideas even if at first they seem wild. Remember, a theory is not The Truth, just a guess about how things work that needs to be tested (Lederach, p. 4).

[Reference: Lederach, J.P., Neufeldt, R., Culbertson, H. (2007). Reflective Peacebuilding: A Planning, Monitoring, and Learning Toolkit. Catholic Relief Services, The Joan B. Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, University of Notre Dame, and Catholic Relief Services Southeast, East Asia Regional Office]