Maria Ioannou on SCORE: “We’re working to make a complex tool easy to use”

As we continue to support a number of initiatives that work towards engaging more people in the peace process, we want to introduce you an innovative tool in progress: SCORE, a tool to measure the closeness between communities in Cyprus. This week, we are talking to Maria Ioannou to find more about herself, her team and personal efforts at SCORE.

MIoannouHi Maria, thanks for talking to us today. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I am a social psychologist. I got my DPhil in Social Psychology a year ago in the UK. Since then I have relocated back in Cyprus. Academically I’m interested in intergroup contact, prejudice reduction, and conflict resolution; personally I’m also interested in more clinical aspects of psychology, as well as a in exploring new places both within and outside Cyprus, and meeting people from all walks of life.

How did you get involved with SCORE? Can you tell us a little bit about what you do?

imageI was introduced to SCORE when I was hired as a senior researcher at the Centre for Sustainable Peace and Democratic Development (SeeD). I am basically the person behind the data analysis for SCORE.

What is SCORE attempting to do?

SCORE is basically a tool to measure Social Cohesion and Reconciliation (hence the acronym).

Through SCORE, we are hoping to be able to provide information how warm or cold relations are between various groups. We also aim to identify what kind of factors are affecting people’s willingness for a political compromise.

What excites you most about SCORE? 

In Cyprus, SeeD is about to launch an outreach campaign to communicate SCORE’s results to a number of important actors but also to the general public. I think that it is the latter that excites me the most about SCORE; that its findings can be shared and discussed with the general public.

Maria works with the SeeD team. The SeeD offices are located at the Home 4 Cooperation in the Buffer Zone.

What are some of the findings you can share with us today?

One of our key findings is that young people feel left out from decision-making. And when people feel left out, guess what happens? They become less willing for a political compromise with the other community.

Another interesting finding for me is that women particularly in the Greek Cypriot community are particularly resistant to coexistence and to a political compromise. Results such as this are suggesting that there are certain segments of the population that are most vulnerable so to speak. It is my opinion that SCORE results should be communicated primarily to these groups, not least to understand the findings but also to provide the floor to these groups to speak up and to discuss.

What is your proudest accomplishment with SCORE?

People who are more acquainted with SCORE talk about a very complex tool whose usefulness they can see but whose essence they can’t quite grasp. When I entered the SCORE team I realized myself that SCORE was indeed a complex tool and that the analysis of SCORE data was quite a handful. After some intense work with the data, I can say we are now at a place to present key findings which are straightforward, thought-provoking, and right in the heart of the peace process.

We are also excited to be rolling out this tool in Bosnia and Nepal. The lessons we are learning through using this tool in Cyprus will be applicable in those countries. We have already collected data in Bosnia in 2014. Data collection in Nepal will take place in 2015.

How can interested people get involved in/engage with/explore SCORE?

There is going to be a number of events taking place in the next few months in Cyprus, to present and generate discussion on the findings. One event will be bi-communal and the other four mono-communal (two on each side of the divide). People who don’t attend these events (or even those who do) should keep an eye on media. SCORE will also have its own Facebook and Twitter account soon.

Finally, we are working to establish a platform through which everyone can interact with SCORE and its findings (SCORE Bosnia 2014, SCORE Cyprus 2013, and SCORE Cyprus 2014). We want it to be easy to consume and very accessible, so our work is about how best to visualize the data.

We also hope to generate lots of discussion, so we are creating a platform where users can leave comments and provide input into the work.

For more information on SCORE, you can check out the Facebook page for Centre for Sustainable Peace and Democratic Development (SeeD).