Gustavus Peace Studies Faculty Attend International Conference at the University of Notre Dame

"Teaching Peace in the 21st Century" connected four faculty with new approaches to teaching and learning.
Posted on July 29th, 2016 by

Brian Konkol, Mimi Gerstbauer, Joaquin Villanueva, and Sean Easton represented Gustavus at the institute.

Brian Konkol, Mimi Gerstbauer, Joaquin Villanueva, and Sean Easton represented Gustavus at the institute.

Gustavus Adolphus College Peace Studies professors Sean Easton (Classics), Mimi Gerstbauer (Political Science), Brian Konkol (Chaplain’s Office), and Joaquin Villanueva (Geography) recently took part in the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies’ “Teaching Peace in the 21st Century” conference at the University of Notre Dame.

Participants, including faculty and administrators from colleges and universities on five continents, learned about the latest developments in the Peace Studies field and shared ideas for teaching classes, challenges of program development, and how to establish global partnerships.

“As a first-time instructor of the Introduction of Peace Studies course beginning next month, I found the experience at the Kroc Institute extremely valuable,” Villanueva said. “I had the opportunity to hear and learn from established scholars in the field and many other participants how to approach and what to cover in an intro course. I am excited to bring some of that knowledge and experience into the classroom this coming semester.”

The highlight of the week for the Gustavus contingent was the opportunity to interact with a diverse set of scholars and teachers from across the globe who approach Peace Studies from different academic disciplines and who are at various stages of building their Peace Studies programs. In addition to the Gustavus group, participants this year were from fourteen other institutions including Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary, SOAS University of London, Wheaton College (IL), University of San Diego, Gwaharshad University in Kabul Afghanistan, Emory University, and Westminster College.

The College’s team also worked on program planning alongside a mentor from the University of Notre Dame. With the changing curriculum at Gustavus, they are re-envisioning what the Peace Studies Program might look like in the 21st century.

Representatives from colleges and universities on five continents attended the gathering.

Representatives from colleges and universities on five continents attended the gathering.

“At a time when our local and global communities are more connected yet also conflicted, our students are increasingly looking for opportunities to explore values, ignite passions, and seek knowledge in order to build peace, transform conflict, and pursue justice,” Konkol said. “The opportunity to attend the institute at Notre Dame will inevitably help us in Peace Studies to better equip Gustavus students to lead purposeful lives and to act on the great challenges of our time.”

The Gustavus Peace Studies Program was founded in the early 1970s, when civil rights activist Bernard Lafayette was hired to help launch the program through a grant from the Mardag Corporation. One of the earliest Peace Studies initiatives in the country, the interdisciplinary Gustavus program allows students to seek a minor in the field while studying the causes and conditions of violent conflict, mechanisms for resolution of conflict, and the norms and practices of building peace.

The Gustavus team’s trip to the University of Notre Dame was made possible through funds from the College’s John S. Kendall Center for Engaged Learning and the Peace Studies Program.

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Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication JJ Akin
jakin@gustavus.edu
507-933-7510

 

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