Today, we began with presentations by Ernesto Verdeja and Susan St. Ville. Ernesto is the Director of the Undergraduate program in Peace Studies here at the University of Notre Dame. Susan is Director of the MA in Peace Studies Program. Both were helpful for navigating curricular questions and educational objectives of Peace Studies programs.
A significant difference between graduate and undergraduate programs in Peace Studies at Kroc is attention to methodology. Peace Studies is interdisciplinary, which means that methodologies specific to a variety of disciplines – political science, social sciences, history, as well as qualitative and quantitative research methods – inform the discipline and shape the knowledge of peace studies. In addition to its interdisciplinary nature, peace studies equally values practice. Peace studies aims at effective practice for peace as well as is informed by practice for its theory. Reflective practice, informed by pragmatism and developed by Donald Schon, is one important method for peace studies for practitioners at the graduate level.
In the afternoon, I spent time in a session learning more about the Catholic Peacebuilding Network (CPN). Jerry Powers, Coordinator of CPN, led the session.
CPN is a network of academics and practitioners who seek to enhance the Catholic church’s unique role in peace building in the world. Leading projects and coordinating conferences, CPN enables a rich network of global academic, financial, and ecclesial resources to address conflict and peacebuilding in troubled parts of the world. The church’s unique capacity to affect peacebuilding at multiple levels – locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally – makes it an important tool for peacebuilding. In addition to the practical, CPN also develops the church’s theology and ethics of peace. I was very interested in a recent publication that Jerry helped edit, Peacebuilding: Catholic Theology, Ethics, and Practice, which included essays from among the finest Catholic scholars.
At the end of the day, Priscilla Eppinger presented our (Priscilla’s, Tony Chvala-Smith’s, and myself) work product from the week. It is a working proposal for a Masters in Community, Justice, and Peace available through the Community of Christ Seminary. The vision of the program integrates our strengths: a foundation in scripture and theology, study in theory and practice of peace studies, along with content in areas of practical peacebuilding and justice-making in an online format. While its clear that several factors must come together to make such a degree possible, the aim of our work is response to the call to “equip people of all ages to carry the ethics of Christ’s peace into all arenas of life.” (Doctrine & Covenants 163:4c) This week with the scholars/practitioners at the Kroc Institute of International Peace Studies at Notre Dame and United States Institute of Peace has been integral for providing the guidance, relationships, and expertise to craft this possibility and see it possible. We are certainly not alone in this calling and must join those already at work in the field.