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6th Annual National Community College Peacebuilding Seminar Brings Together 18 Educators from 10 Colleges and Organizations

The 6th Annual National Community College Peacebuilding Seminar was held November 1 to 4, 2018 at the School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution at George Mason University in Arlington, VA.  Started in 2013, the seminar is designed to advance the teaching and learning of peacebuilding and conflict resolution in community colleges.   Nearly 150 educators have participated in the program.

This year’s program brought together 18 educators and students from Santa Monica College (CA), Valencia College (FL),  College of Southern Maryland, Nassau Community College (NY), Northern Virginia Community College, Montgomery College (MC), Highline College (WA), Bellevue College (WA), and George Mason University. Officials from NAFSA also participated.

On Thursday, November 1 the seminar featured Daryn Cambridge  from Training Resources Group who discussed foundational issues in peace education including positive and negative peace.  He was followed by the featured lunchtime keynote presenter Ninette Irabaruta, originally from Burundi, and a graduate of Southern Maine Community College and Brandeis University.  She discussed her journey to the U.S.

In the afternoon Imad Harb from the Arab Center/Washington, DC talked about current issues in Arab world politics and how Arab governments are constituted.   He was followed by Outward Bound Peacebuilding’s Ana Patel how led the group in activities and exercises used in her program. This was followed by a welcome dinner.

On Friday, November 2 the seminar participants visited the U.S. Institute of Peace  (USIP) and the U.S. Diplomacy Center (USDC). At USIP, the group was hosted by Jeff Helsing and Tina Luu.  Helsing share about the work and history of USIP.

Luu talked about work in neuroscience and peacebuilding.  At USDC, Marti Estell and Cheryl Harris talked with the group.   Estell, a career Foreign Service officer,  shared about the work of USDC and career opportunities for students and community college grads. Harris, from the Bureau of Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration, discussed the current government policy on refugees and migrants.  Between the visits, Jason Barna from the National Park Service, toured with the group the Lincoln Memorial and Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial.

The program on Saturday, November 3 started at 8 a.m. and ended at 8 p.m.  Colman McCarthy started the day sharing his experiences in teaching peace and working with youth.  He talked about his experiences interviewing Mother Teresa and other peace leaders.  He was followed at lunch by Susan Hirsch and Agnieszka Paczynska of George Mason  University’s School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution who discussed their work in advancing experiential learning in conflict resolution.  Colby Jeffers then led the participants in creating rap music.  Michelle Breslauer from the Institute for Economics and Peace shared about the Global Peace Index and how it might be used with students.  This was followed by Maria Bryant from the College of Southern Maryland looking at sociological perspectives in understanding the bombing of Hiroshima, and Susan Cushman who talked about applied learning in her Intro to Peace Studies course, and her work toward developing a peace studies program at NCC. The evening ended with the showing and discussion of several short films on refugees and migrants produced by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting and provided by Ann Peters.

The final day, Sunday, November 4, featured Chip Hauss from the Alliance for Peacebuilding (AfP) who discussed current issues in peacebuilding and the work of AfP, and Tony Jenkins from the International Institute on Peace Education and Global Campaign for Peace Education who looked at the pedagogy of peace education. David J. Smith from the Forage Center and the George Mason Universitythe seminar director,  shared  about career pathways for community college students in the field as well as  humanitarian education opportunities.

The next seminar is planned for November 2019 at George Mason University. Dates will be announced in early 2019.   The seminar was held at Montgomery College (MD) in 2013, and at Northern Virginia Community College from 2014-2017.

From 2006-2009, nearly 100 educators participated in “Global Peace and Security in Community Colleges and the Communities They Serve: A Seminar for Community College Faculty and Administrators” hosted by USIP in Washington, DC.   USIP held a similar seminar in the late 1990s for community college faculty.  The results of these efforts led to  Peacebuilding in Community Colleges: A Teaching Resource (USIP Press, 2013) edited by David J. Smith.

From more information about the seminar, contact David J. Smith at davidjsmith@davidjsmithconsulting.com.


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