Students and scholars from Ecuador to Norway are participating in “Cultivating Peace: A Symposium for Violence Prevention,” which will be held Nov. 16 to 18 at The Inn at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg. 

“I encourage all students with an interest in violence prevention and peace-building to attend this symposium and take this opportunity to network and discover new colleagues,” said Jim Hawdon, director of Virginia Tech’s Center for Peace Studies and Violence Prevention, which is organizing the symposium along with its affiliated student organization, Students for Non-Violence.

Johan Galtung, founder of the academic discipline of peace studies, will deliver the keynote lecture, “A Formula for Peace: Equity x Harmony/Trauma x Conflict, and the USA,” on Friday, Nov. 16, at 7 p.m. in Assembly Hall. This event is free and open to the public.

Galtung’s career in the study of structural violence, conflict resolution, and peace-building spans six decades. He has taught at numerous universities and has mediated approximately 50 conflicts between states and nations.

Galtung, who has published more than 100 books and 1,000 articles, will lead two interactive workshops on conflict resolution expressly for student participants. 

“These workshops will be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to work so closely with one of the world’s experts,” said Marc Lucht, visiting assistant professor of philosophy and peace studies and coordinator of the symposium.

Several Ph.D. candidates from the Alliance of Social, Political, Ethical, and Cultural Thought in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences are among the weekend presenters, including Christian Matheis, of San Antonio, Texas, who will facilitate a discussion exploring the proposal "Peace with Power, or No Peace at All." Matheis says that many scholars and activists have typically “failed to study fundamental understandings of power as a primary component of peace, but with knowledge and insight into different forms of power, we can increase our effectiveness in addressing notions of peace, violence and related social phenomena more critically."

Jordan Hill of Boulder, Colo., will present on the American history of creating memory sites to violence. Michelle Deramo, of Blacksburg, Va., will share her research about the effects of forced migration on identity, and Lyusyena Kirakosyan will explore theatre as a tool for peace and justice.

Sabith Khan, a Ph.D. candidate from the Institute for Policy and Governance in the College of Architecture and Urban Studies, will discuss the struggle to nurture American Muslim civic leaders. Emily Barry, of Burke, Va., a Ph.D. candidate in the Public and International Affairs program, will examine autoethnography as a tool for critical self-analysis in peace research.

A round table discussion will be hosted by Virginia Tech undergraduate students from the capstone seminar “Global Society, Violence, and the Prospects for Peace” which is taught by Lucht. Those students include: Jeremiah Azurin, of Washington, D.C., a sophomore geography major in the College of Natural Resources and the Environment; Tyson Phillips, of Greer, S.C., a senior architecture major in the College of Architecture and Urban Studies; Matt Barnette of Alexandria, Va., a senior sociology major in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences; senior political science major Samantha Holly of Swoope,Va.; and Meaghan McCormick of Haymarket, Va., a senior majoring in political science and philosophy, both in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences.

Lucht also welcomes students from the global studies program at North Cross School. “These students, who have worked with the Somali refugee population in Roanoke, will host a round table on the need for educating girls in developing countries,” said Lucht. Another student from North Cross, Emily Chandel, will present a paper on cyberwarfare.

Shane McCarty of Arlington, Va., who presented at the 2010 symposium as founder of the Actively Caring for People movement, will continue discussion on the practical strategies of cultivating compassion and peace. McCarty, a graduate of Pamplin College of Business, is now a Ph.D. student in the industrial/organizational psychology program in the College of Science.

Victoria James, who graduated with a degree in political science in May, returns to her alma mater to present “Unmanned and Out of Control: the Devastating Impacts of Drone Use on Peacebuilding Worldwide.” James’ participation realizes one of Hawdon’s goals for the center. “We encourage ongoing connections between alumni and current students,” says Hawdon, “and we hope our alumni will remain active members of our family and become junior mentors and career contacts for our peace studies minors.”

Marcela Paredes, a Humphey Fellow from Ecuador who was at Virginia Tech last year but is now at Syracuse University, will present on “Kantian Approaches to Peace.”



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