Margaret Smith has devoted her life to exploring the nexus between personal growth and social change. Her doctoral research focused on new ways dissemination of historical ideas can be used to mitigate conflict, including the pedagogy of the teaching of history as a tool for post-conflict reconstruction. That research issued in Reckoning with the Past: Teaching History in Northern Ireland (Lexington Books, 2005).
Between 1999 and 2017 Smith was on the faculty of the Program on International Peace and Conflict Resolution at American University, where she taught courses aimed at helping students confront differences and recognize how new approaches to understanding history and memory can help build a more resilient society, especially in places of deep social division. She has written about and participated in a number of fora addressing the role of history and memory in reinforcing social norms and rigidifying the boundaries of divided societies. Her areas of specialization include nationalist and ethnic conflict, uses of memory in politics, and post- conflict reconstruction in deeply divided societies.
While with the international program of Initiatives of Change, Smith spent four years in Papua New Guinea helping women make adjustments in their lives necessitated by changes attending the island’s independence from Australia. She spent a further four years in Richmond, Virginia working on projects to improve community relations. Smith earned an MA in History from Boston University, and a second MA, in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, from Lesley University. Her Ph.D. is from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.
Dr. Smith serves as the Director of the Program on Trauma Healing and Community Resilience (PATH).