DEEP Germany, also known as DEEP Deutschland e.V., kicked off a new project called DEEP Events in January 2021. The aim of DEEP Events is to create a place to come together to share ideas, skills and information through platforms like Zoom (for now…) and includes workshops, discussions and interviews with guests from a wide range of subjects. The underlying philosophy parallels the Global DEEP Network’s mission statement, which works towards a peaceful and ecologically regenerative world by bridging divides, promoting understanding, and transforming conflict.
Our first guest was author, cognitive behavioral psychologist and Stoic philosopher Donald J. Robertson and the title of the first DEEP Talks event was “Responding to Anger: A Stoic Approach”.
Since conflict and anger can often be seen hanging out together in intense situations it is wise to better understand how anger functions as well as strategies to deal with it. Anger and conflict can be quite rowdy characters when hanging out together and any moment can quickly escalate into violence if left only to their unbalanced dispositions.
As a teacher-facilitator I see the strong connection between education and the conceptual domains of peace and conflict. Transforming conflict is not necessarily easy and any challenge includes some form of change in relationship, whether it is an internal relationship to one’s self or an external relationship with another being or the environment. Challenges presented can be physical, structural or cognitive for example, but some form of learning hopefully occurs. In this sense, education, like peace and conflict, are a constant variable in life which ebb and flow like the air that we breathe.
One challenge that many have been facing throughout 2020 and continuing into 2021 is dealing with the way Covid19 has impacted all aspects of life. Everyday conflicts coupled with a lower stress threshold create a recipe for even the smallest of problems to surface as Covid19 shakes things up and exposes often what was already there.
As a guest lecturer at a private international university, or Hochshcule here in Germany where I live, I am a month away from starting my third semester of classes on Zoom. E-learning is the new way, but not only for the traditional brick-and-mortar schools.
I saw performing arts like improvisational theater also go online. My longform improv partner, Vero, along with other local improviser in Cologne, started the online improv platform www.improfestonline.com. I was slightly skeptical at first, I must admit, but I found great value in the workshops and expanded my online teaching skills too. Talented improvisers from all over the world were able to facilitate a wide range of valuable workshops through Zoom.
One of the potentially transformative characteristics of theater – specifically improvisational theater – is that it encompasses the many faces of life from breath and voice to movement, proximity, timing and pace. There’s an opportunity for cognitive faculties and emotional capacities to get a good workout on stage – relationships characterized by sensorial connection and nuanced communication. Would most of this be lost in a Zoom breakout room? Perhaps, but if there is one perspective that I have taken from my research in the social sciences – specifically in Peace and Conflict Studies – is that conflict can be a powerful change agent if approached in a nondestructive way. Covid19 was the
metaphorical fallen tree on the footpath winding up an already steep mountain trail. This is the journey of life for many.
Covid19 mapped the complex, interconnected and overlapping connections of human interaction. The virus penetrated our social networks like the clandestine agents of the Cold War and gave the global community one more antagonist to fight. It changed how people communicated and related to each other asface-masking,social distancing and quarantining became common practice. The theater stage lights were now highlighting the holes in societies world over from a lack of healthcare infrastructure to adequate financial support among many. Those fortunate to have home-office, or for many just simply no office, came face-to-face with perhaps a false sense of security that comforts normalcy and every-day routines. A false calm before the violent storm that follows.
When a time, space and place open for reflection the spotlight can easily turn inward toward our own Jungian shadows as well, whether we look or not is another thing. I digress. For those with access to the internet it became an even greater place to meet, communicate, zone-out, consume, work and learn.
As traditional learning went from filling physical seats and classrooms to taking up internet bandwidth, I saw everything from podcast shows, video channels and academic conferences to even Cologne’s infamous Carnival go online. Yes, this year my wife, Wibke, and I celebrated the annual Kölner Karneval on Zoom. What?!? Yes, Zoom. It was for a fundraiser and the show must go. I was skeptical at first, I must admit.
The experience of overcoming change, which happens to be a constant theme in life, is the basis for the universal story. The journey the protagonist goes through to transform conflicts, solve problems or reestablish a new normal is the educational experience. I wonder how pragmatist philosopher John Dewey would have incorporated a platform like Zoom into his theory of education and experience. What would JD do? We can only hypothesize.
Education has gone from the local to global level through the internet and opened spaces for new networks to emerge. The way we exchange ideas, skills and information is unique to our Zeitgeist. Societies harness available tools, and should still look critically at what constitutes a quality education and what purpose does it fulfil?
The internet has broken down the walls of who can share or teach. Anyone can host their own show and distribute it through any number of platforms. Decentralized communities can easily emerge around a theme, ideology, interest or personality whether labeled as for fun or for educational purposes. Of course, the quality can vary significantly, but that’s for another topic. There’s no shortage of shows and whatever your taste, there’s something out there. If not, then you can create it. You don’t have to be a professional or seek approval in the form of certifications or titles. It is ok to fail. This is part of the learning journey as well.
The DEEP Events project, including DEEP Talks and DEEP Yoga, was started by DEEP Germany co founders Wibke Gehringer and Lina Westermann, as well DEEP member Kevin J. Brenneman.
tldr; we host free events on Zoom and explore themes related to peace and conflict
About the Author
Kevin Brennemen is an educator and freelancer-entrepreneur. He holds undergraduate degrees in Professional Flight Aviation and Psychology from Purdue University in the USA, an M.A. in Peace, Conflict, and Development from the UNESCO Chair of Philosophy for Peace in Castellón, Spain, and a TEFL diploma in Business English.
His freelance work includes teaching Business English at the International University of Bad Honnef’s Cologne Campus and he is the co-founder and CEO of the mobile coffee cart, “The Coffee & Cookie Co.”.
Other interests include: improv theater and peace studies, as a curriculum, with a focus in interpersonal relationships & communication, storytelling, and group collaboration. Hobbies include: rock climbing, traveling, the great outdoors, van life, film production, …
Kevin is a member of the Global DEEP Network and DEEP Deutschland e.V.