Today was my first day at the Teaching Peace in the 21st Century, Summer Institute for Faculty hosted at the Hesburgh Center for International Studies at the University of Notre Dame, Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies. Our host is George A. Lopez, who is Professor of Peace Studies at the Kroc Institute and Vice President and Director of the Academy for International Conflict Management and Peacebuilding at the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) in Washington, D.C. I’m hear with Community of Christ Seminary faculty, Priscilla Eppinger and Tony Chvala-Smith.
The purpose of our visit is to learn. President of Community of Christ, Steve Veazey, met George A. Lopez at the US Institute of Peace, who invited us to participate. The Community of Christ is called to peace. Its Temple in Independence is dedicated to the pursuit of peace, reconciliation, and healing of the spirit. Our visit is exploratory, to seek opportunities for connections and learn from scholars from others Peace Studies programs, to cultivate ideas and perspective about possible peace studies curriculum for Community of Christ Seminary and Graceland.
Today was orientation and introductions. George Lopez gave two helpful presentations introduction to Peace Studies as an interdisciplinary and changing field of study, education, and action. After dinner, we received a presentation on the History and Changing Themes of Peace Studies. Both presentations offered practical advise and an outline of key components for developing Peace Studies programs, from undergraduate minors to masters level.
My goal is to chronicle key insights from the day. Below are three things that I think stuck out as both insightful and critical areas for me/us to consider.
1. In developing a Peace Studies program or curriculum, integrate both your institution’s identity and mission. Be able to express to students, administrators, and faculty what Peace Studies is, what the program’s purpose is, and why it reflects (or is essential) to your institution’s overall mission and educational goals. Connecting your program to your institution’s mission and community is important.
2. Identify the academic niche your program offers. Peace Studies is a challenging, interdisciplinary, and changing field of study. It must include research, educational, and action-oriented components. What is unique about your programs’ approach, emphases, and/or understanding of peace studies?
3. Take advantage of your faculty’s interests and strengths. Because peace studies is a large interdisciplinary field, it is often difficult to find a focus. But, it also means an entire university can be deployed in research, teaching, and developing aspects of peace studies at your college/university. How do the sciences, economics, literature, and religious studies shape or contribute to peace studies at your institution? How can your program take advantage of your faculty’s research and teaching interests?
Throughout our exploratory session tonight, I thought consistently about two things. First was what Community of Christ offers the global and interdisciplinary search for peace? What does Community of Christ theology, tradition, or perspective offer the global peace movement and our approach to peace? Second, I thought about Graceland’s values: learning, wholeness, and community. To me, these values have always been more than a list. They share an interrelated perspective on Graceland’s approach to education, formation and service to others. Learning, wholeness, and community all increase with each other. The more we learn, the more we integrate with others and become a whole person.
I’m looking forward to tomorrow and more time spent with the Kroc Institute faculty and faculty from other peace programs across the country and world. We have an international gathering, here.