Johnny McGowan, my father’s friend, was a wonderful Irish storyteller. When he visited with my family, he kept us on the edge of our seats with vivid tales of his adventures as a soldier in World War II. Johnny’s war stories made a deep impression on me—particularly the ones he told about the concentration camps and how 6 million human beings died in their gas ovens. I was six or seven years old at the time, but I still remember going to sleep at night pondering the unbelievable facts of this genocide.
My child’s mind couldn’t take in the scope of the insanity that Johnny described. Since then, my life has been a journey to understand the roots of violence and to figure out what is required to create a peaceful world. We urgently need a new model for understanding what peace is, how to get to it, and how to make it last. I’m particularly interested in the role identity plays in apparently intractable conflicts and in figuring out how to address what I believe is the central paradox that holds all such conflicts in place: it is the very actions each community takes to maintain identity that create the conditions that threaten identity.
How does your experience with OSR impact you?
I love teaching on the OSR program because it offers the most innovative approach to learning about organizational life I’ve come across in all my years of teaching. It brings alive the concepts of leadership and self-organizing systems in a very creative and powerful way, one that engages not only the mind, but the heart and emotions, too. What I find particularly unique about the program’s methodology is that students, in collaboration with instructors, are responsible for shaping the learning process and outcomes. This approach allows them to address and study the issues of leadership, decision-making, strategy, change, etc., as these concepts surface in their efforts to create a temporary learning organization.
Raised in Northern Ireland, Hugh O’Doherty has taught leadership and conflict resolution at the Jepson School of Leadership Studies, the McGregor Burns Academy of Leadership, University of Maryland, and Harvard’s John F Kennedy School of Government. At the University of Maryland, he directed the Ireland-US Public Leadership Program for “emerging” leaders from all the political parties in Ireland. In Northern Ireland, he directed the Inter-Group Relations Project, an initiative bringing together political and community leaders in Ireland to establish protocols for political dialogue. Hugh has consulted extensively with a wide variety of clients. Hugh earned an M.Ed and Ed.D from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.