Austin Community College students are organizing a conference to examine the impact of violence on cultures and communities and to explore approaches to achieving peace. “Conflict and Peace: In Your Life, In Your Community, In Your World,” will be May 4 at the Eastview Campus.
Keynote speaker will be David J. Smith of the U.S. Institute of Peace in Washington, D.C. The educational outreach manager for the Institute’s Global Peacebuilding Center will discuss “Survivor as Peacebuilder: Looking at the Ways that Someone Who Has Experienced Violence Can Build Peace.”
“We want to expose people to ideas of conflict transformation and peace studies,” says Dr. Shirin Khosropour, an ACC psychology professor whose students are planning the conference. Â “By learning to view things from a different lens, people on both sides of an issue can learn and grow.”
The conference is a service learning project in Khosropour’s Introduction to Psychology (PSYC 2301) honors course. In addition to planning and promoting the conference, students will lead breakout sessions on such topics as the role of language and discrimination in conflict.
“Our class goal is to create the conference, but also to discuss our piece in conflict transformation,” says student Joshua Wathen.
Students say the goal of conflict transformation is not to prove one side of an issue is correct. Instead, it is to recognize the background and experiences people bring to an issue and determine a mutually agreeable solution.
“Conflict doesn’t have to be a bad thing,” says student Ben Fox. “You have a legitimate reason for conflict in the world, even between students here. We realize conflict doesn’t have to go away.”
The conference is just one way Khosropour hopes to show others how they can create positive change through a better understanding of conflict. She also is part of an ACC committee exploring options for offering degree or certificate programs in conflict transformation and peace studies. And, as a recently appointed Exploring Humanitarian Law Teaching Fellow for the American Red Cross, she will help recruit and train a network of educators who will teach high school and college students about the laws that govern armed conflict. To learn more about her efforts, click here.
“Conflict and Peace: In Your Life, In Your Community, In Your World,” will be 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday, May 4, in the Eastview Campus Multipurpose Room 8500. The conference (see schedule below) is free and open to the community.
“It really just takes one person to get that concept,” says student Fatti Bajo. “Every person in here can be the candle that spreads the light to the next person.”
“Conflict and Peace: In Your Life, In Your Community, In Your World”
|10:00 – 10:15||Introduction to Conflict Transformation|
|10:15 – 11:15||Keynote presentation: “Survivor as Peacebuilder: Looking at the Ways that Someone Who Has Experienced Violence Can Build Peace,” David J. Smith, Outreach Director, U.S. Institute of Peace|
|11:15 – 11:45||Break with light refreshments|
|11:45 – Noon||Introduction to Psychology curriculum|
|Noon – 1:30||Student Lectures
|1:30 – 2:00||Closing Remarks and Q & A|